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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Holiday Networking with Crazy Relatives

By Jason Alba, Career Transition Editor

You’ll see a lot of articles this season about how to network during the holiday season. I’m guessing that’s because many people think that it’s a horrible time to job search (let’s not talk about business, let’s talk about festivities!) even though there are many opportunities. Instead of telling you that this is a great time to network, and that you should not stop your job search, I’ll put a twist on it and remind you that even your seemingly crazy relatives can add value to your job search.

You know the setting, you see many of these people only once a year, everyone is hugging and smiling at first, then they go to eating, then the lazy stuff starts. People have a few more hours together that they usually burn in discussion, watching football, napping, or going out to play catch or go sledding.

You can really take advantage of this time to develop relationships with your family. Here are some things I recommend:

  1. Have the right attitude. Even though you know Uncle Jim at a personal level, remember that he got where he’s at because of various competencies, and that he’d probably love to give you a mentoring session and help you with your career.
  2. Have a specific thing to talk about. Instead of engaging them in a brainstorming session about your future, ask specific questions. You can start with “Hey Uncle Jim, I am looking at going into the supply chain arena and was wondering if I could bounce some ideas off of you.” Then, some of the questions might be “what do you think about focusing on the supply chain as a career move,” “do you know anyone in your company that specializes in logistics that I could talk with to get a better feel for what I need to know,” and “who else do you think I should talk to?”
  3. Show you are serious about networking. Uncle Jim doesn’t want to jeopardize his relationships, and may be a little guarded about opening up or really making connections. Simply asking “can you introduce me to…” and then say each persons name. You have to follow-up with them quickly, and Uncle Jim will be happy to help you in the future. Don’t follow through on this and he won’t have much confidence in your seriousness.
  4. Continue your relationship with Uncle Jim. Now that you have started this professional relationship, keep it up. Get into Uncle Jim’s world and you may see the things that have helped make him successful, which can help you down the road.

Maybe it’s not Uncle Jim, maybe it’s his son or daughter. The point is, you’ll be spending time with relatives that might seem quirky to you but may be very accomplished. Or, they may have excellent contacts. Either way, the holidays are no excuse to put your career (and networking) on hold!

At holiday gatherings, Jason Alba can usually be found by the food, contemplating his next career step.

Jason Alba is the job seeker's advocate (and aren't we all job seekers?). He got laid off in January 2006, just a few weeks after Christmas. Even though he had great credentials and it was a job-seeker’s market, Jason could hardly get a job interview. Finally he decided to step back and figure out the job search process, including trying to understand all of the available resources. Within a few months he had designed a personal job search tool,, which helps professionals manage career and job search activities the same way a salesman manages prospects and customer data. Get a free account at and begin managing your career right now. Jason blogs at, recently celebrated his first blog birthday and a book called "I'm on LinkedIn -- Now What??" You can learn more about his book by clicking here.

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