Career Changers

Holiday Networking

December 28th, 2011

Used to be that for many companies, the holidays were a time to call on clients and thank them for their biz or throw parties to impress prospects. It also gave people a chance to catch up with business contacts, and put out feelers for other career opportunities or job openings. For years, I've been sending Hawaii Christmas cards to Hollywood connections, just to remind them I'm still writing screenplays (usually with a note about what I'm currently working on to see if they'll nibble).

With so many people out of work or looking to make a career change, what surprises me is how few actually take advantage of the holiday season to do some networking. It seems like fewer and fewer people send out Christmas cards, while company parties have become a thing of the past. Sure, I understand the need to cut expenses and avoid lawsuits resulting from inebriated employees doing inappropriate things. But I still think it's nice when companies arrange little get-togethers or mixers for workers and clients to share positive feelings at least once a year.

I also look forward to getting short handwritten notes from friends who send cards. Frankly, the Facebook postings aren't really very personal and tell me more about what that person wants others to think of them, than what they actually think about things or how they're doing. And if that person has time to post mostly trivial stuff on Facebook, yet "doesn't have time" to send cards or write notes to friends, what does that say about them or your relationship?

Anyhow, if you're looking for work or new job opps, this is the time to reach out and call someone or send them a personal email/card/letter to tell them you're having a rough time. Even if they can't help you at the moment, it might lead to something down the road should that person hear about an opening somewhere. More importantly, it's a good excuse to get together with old friends IRL -- in real life -- instead of skimming through their Tweets and FB wall posts.


You can still catch our December episode of Career Changers TV until next Thursday (click here for daily viewing times on OC16). One of the segments is about Argosy University's commencement ceremony last month at the Hawaii Convention Center. For those who aren't familiar with the school, you'd be surprised at how fast they have grown in the past three years... and there's an inspirational story within the segment about a former meth addict, who has turned her life around. For the low resolution YouTube video version of that segment, click here.

While we were shooting that piece, I had some words of advice for graduates based on my own ill-advised attempt to emulate a commencement tradition: do NOT toss your cap in the air at the end of the ceremony. Those things have sharp corners and are potentially lethal. I tossed my hat high in the air -- and it came down hard and fast, hitting a young woman in the face right behind me. Nearly took her eye out. She was angry, and I felt like a fool. Bad move.

Speaking of caps and gowns, the Argosy commencement program included interesting background on the symbolism of colors and designs used. Did you know the sleeves of bachelor's and master's gowns are differently shaped? Or that the doctoral hood attached to the gown identifies the wearer's academic heritage? Here's the Wikipedia link for more info on that.

Not addressed in the piece is the question of what to wear under the gown. When I graduated from grade school, the boys wore blue gowns and the girls wore white. All the guys in my class wore dark pants -- except me. I had white slacks on, so when you look at the group photo, it was easy to pick me out by my white pant legs.

Have a safe and Happy New Years!

2 Responses to “Holiday Networking”

  1. Monika:

    I have been networking for about a year, and have yet to find a position. I have been open to changing careers, and am relocating to improve my odds. Nothing. Any hints for someone who is out of ideas and close to out of hope?

  2. Rich Figel:

    Hi, Monika -

    What kind of skills do you have, and what kind of job are you looking for? Have you gotten any feedback on why employers didn't hire you? It's hard to make suggestions without knowing more. Rather than wait for companies to advertise they're looking for workers, have you contacted the ones you think you can contribute something to? Sometimes you have to make your own opportunities... no one was looking to hire me as a writer, so I created a TV show that I thought would fill a need. But I had to find an experienced videographer to make that happen, then go out and sell the show concept to sponsors. Two years later, the show has led to other opportunities for me to produce videos and continue to do what I want to do -- which is writing.

    Relocating might help, but if there are specific reasons people aren't calling you back for interviews here, it could be you need to work on your skills or resume first. Have you sat down with any placement pros or headhunters to go over your CV/resume?

    Hang in there. Things actually are improving... unless certain politicians succeed in destroying any chance of a recovery just to stay in power!