If you’ve never seen the Pulitzer Prize and Tony award-winning best musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, I highly recommend it. The hysterical Broadway hit centers on a former window- cleaner’s rise from the mail room to Vice President of Advertising thanks to some quick, key connections he makes on his very first day. The theme of the musical is a prescription for what an ambitious person without skills, talent or brains must do to succeed. The adage, “It isn’t what you know. It’s who you know,” takes center stage.
Fortunately, you already have a strong skill set and brains—but are you taking action on a consistent basis to grow your network? The most successful people in the world do so regularly because they understand that maximizing connections means obtaining optimal opportunities. Either way, here’s some good news—you’ll meet a ton of new people during the holiday season, so consider capitalizing on these connections. Apply Dale Carnegie’s 21st Human Relations principle, ‘Throw down a challenge,’ and set a goal to meet at least 20 new people. Here’s why:
1. Tis the season to be jolly. When FieldAgent.net conducted a survey regarding how Americans celebrate the holidays, 70% of respondents said they had plans to attend one or more parties held at a private residence and 44% planned to host a Christmas party or social function during the holiday season. Whether a neighborhood or company party, attend with the intent to connect with new people. You never know who will be able to help you—secure an interview, introduction, venture capital, grant funding, etc., in the future.
Be sure to apply Mr. Carnegie’s 13th principle, ‘Begin in a friendly way,’ by introducing yourself and asking a few ice-breaker questions. “Where do you work? What do you do? How do you know so-and-so?” are all appropriate conversation starters. Just be sure to apply his 15th principle, “Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves,” by using your body language and asking questions to show you’re genuinely interested in them.
2. You can control your reputation more than recruiting efforts. When a recruiter you’ve never formally met shares your resume with a potential employer, they simply pass it along based on your qualifications for the role. When someone who knows you recommends you for an opportunity, they usually include valuable insights such as, “She performs extremely well under pressure,” or, “He has an uncanny ability to unite and lead dissenting team members.”
3. Fa-la-la-la-la foot-in-the-door. Glassdoor.com analyzed 440,000 job interview reviews, and found that the chances of getting and accepting an offer are “statistically significant,” 2.6% to 6.6% higher, if you were referred by a current employee than if you hadn’t been. Staffing agency referrals and “in-person connections with employers,” also yielded above-average results. Bottom line, the odds of getting your foot in the door whether job-searching, prospecting, researching, etc. are higher if you have a contact, so go get ‘em!