By Gayle Hallgren-Rezac and Darcy Rezac
This year, did you make a number of interesting contacts while networking to find a job? Did you meet people who gave you job leads or forwarded your resume? Are you wondering how you are going to keep those connections warm? Is your challenge that you don’t have a really good reason to reconnect? Actually you do! The holiday season offers your best opportunity to touch base, and the best way to do it is the old-fashioned way. Send a handwritten holiday card. Really? In this day of e-cards, tweets, writing on someone’s wall or firing off an e-mail, why send a so-last-century greeting card by snail mail? It’s simple. Most people don’t send cards. Stand out.
Sending cards may take time and money, but it’s worth doing and anything worth doing is worth doing well. Instead of an off-the-shelf card, create your own custom card and then take the time to write a personal note. Custom card sites like www.moo.com make it easy to create your own card. The beauty of a custom card is that you can add your own contact information. If custom cards aren’t the way to go for you, send cards that support your favorite charity. Make sure you include your business card with the holiday card.
WHAT TO WRITE
If the person receiving the cards knows you well, send a heartfelt handwritten greeting. If the connection isn’t close, think back to how they may have helped you, how you met, or something that happened between you (a good thing!). For example, if someone gave you a job lead give him or her a brief update. Do not use a holiday greeting to do ‘a pitch’. If he or she gave you some advice, thank them again for their kindness.
While this may seem counter-intuitive, think back to those folks who did not hire you, but who you spent time with during interviews. Mostly likely the interviewer gave you some advice and you can thank them for that. They may simply have been very gracious and you can thank them for that experience! Things change and sending a card puts you back on their radar.
If you are thinking of sending a card to someone who was an interesting contact, make sure it not too ‘random’. Was there some kind of real interchange? If you met the CEO of a company, but did nothing more than exchange cards, then a holiday card is not appropriate. Use your own good judgment.
THINK PEACE & GOODWILL, NOT JINGLE BELLS
Some of the people on your card list may celebrate other holidays such as Hanukkah, or may not celebrate at this time of year. Keep your card design and message themed around peace, celebrating and reconnecting during this special season of goodwill.
Once you have sent cards out to the people who have been instrumental in your job search, go through your database, stacks of business cards, old address books and emails and create a secondary list. Send as many holiday cards as you can afford to send. While going through this list of contacts, make a note of those folks you might want to contact in the New Year. Send a personalized message in your holiday card, and don’t use a holiday card to request help for your job search. Instead, diarize their name and plan to contact them after the holidays. The card you send may be the ‘positive energy’ that makes them more open to talking to you.
ONE MORE TIME THROUGH YOUR DATA BASE
Look at your database one more time and decide who really needs a call or a kind note from you. It may have nothing to do with finding a job; it may simply be about reaching out to people you’ve lost touch with over the years. Remember, the power of a network is that it is always on, even if it’s humming at a very low frequency. Fire it up this season!
Gayle Hallgren-Rezac is Vice-President of Marketing for the Shepa Learning Company, a training and development company. She is co-author of Work The Pond! Use the Power of Positive Networking to Leap Forward in Work and Life (Prentice Hall, 2005) with Darcy Rezac and Judy Thomson, available at Amazon.ca.
Darcy Rezac is Managing Director & Chief Engagement Officer, The Vancouver Board of Trade and Chief Executive, The Rix Center for Corporate Citizenship & Engaged Leadership. Visit The Pond at www.workthepond.com to sign up for a free weekly Positive Networking® tip.
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