I just read an excellent article on Forbes that included some networking wisdom from Thom Singer, author of The ABC’s of Networking, Some Assembly Required, and of course his blog. Tara Weiss did a great job putting the article together, including great stuff from Lynne Waymon (co-author of Making Contacts Count) and Andrea Nierenberg (author of Million Dollar Networking).
The article really got me thinking about networking (or, relationship building) with your family during Thanksgiving (or another lazy holiday). 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.
You really can take advantage of this time to develop relationships with your family. Here are some things I’ve been thinking:
- 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.
- 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?”
- 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.
- 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.
Between Thom Singer’s stuff and these family networking tips, remember one thing: the holiday’s are no excuse to put your career (and networking) on hold!
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