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Home  > Article

Summer Partying Can Boost Your Career

By Kate Lorenz

For most of us, summer has been synonymous with vacation, long lazy days and time off. But the summer provides great opportunities to help your job search.

Since we were kids, summer has been synonymous with vacation, long lazy days and time off from responsibility -- and it seems we never grow out of this way of thinking. Sometime around Memorial Day, hiring tends to slow and job hunters put their searches on hold for the summer.

The seasonal lag can't be attributed to any one thing. For example, many people want to take advantage of their accrued time off. Plus, who wants to start a job during prime vacation time when the prospect of any time off is pretty much out of the question for several months.
But just because your job search is on hold, it doesn't mean you can take a break entirely. With summer festivals, weddings, graduation parties and barbeques filling your social calendar, why not take advantage of your networking opportunities?
Most likely, you'll know at least one person at the social events you're hitting. You'll have to break away from your comfort zone of acquaintances to get started. Here are five ways you can network at parties from 'Make Your Contacts Count' (Amacom) by Lynne Waymon and Anne Baber:
Shelve your shyness
If you think of yourself as shy, you're not alone. Many confident, poised and easygoing people were once timid and uncomfortable. In fact, one study claims that 50 percent of people think of themselves as shy. You can learn to get over your shyness, however. Recognize that others feel the same way. Practice your body language. Find a role model and make something that person does, like a confident handshake, part of your technique.
Join groups comfortably     
At any gathering, people will be talking in groups. To join a group, use body language -- touch someone's arm gently but firmly, and usually the circle will naturally break for you to enter. Make eye contact with the person talking or smile at the listeners. Take a moment to tune into the conversation and participate when you're ready. Introduce yourself when there's a lull in the conversation.
Engage your partner
You can use body language to reward and encourage your partner. Establish eye contact. Nod your head for nonverbal encouragement. Be genial -- show your partner you're enjoying the conversation. Smile and use gestures. Aim your attention at your partner and ease your posture.
Be seriously curious
Networking isn't just about talking, it's also about listening. Don't monopolize the conversation; encourage dialogue. Everyone has a story, so use interview techniques to avoid dead-end questions. Ask people where they came from and how they got where they are. Make other people talk but remember, persistence is a virtue but know when to stop probing.
Be careful of turn-offs
Just as easily as you can enter a group, you can also have people scrambling to make a run for it. Don't give a monologue or tell all the details -- they're boring and will lose people's attention. At the same time, don't interrupt others. Be careful of flirting, becoming intoxicated or using offensive language. This type of behavior can make you an unattractive conversation partner at this and future events.

Kate Lorenz is the article and advice editor for She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

Copyright 2008 All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority.

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