Welcome to the Adult Table
Now you’re in college. Too old to play Candyland, and maybe you feel too young to engage with the adults. Or are you?
Are you too young to talk to Uncle Stanley about his career path? Are you too young to talk to Aunt Roz about her travel agency and the impact of Covid? Are you too young to talk to your second cousin once removed about his management consulting job?
I say “NO!”
Now that you’re in college, it’s time to step away from the kid’s table and join the adults. Approach your Thanksgiving vacation and holiday functions as opportunities to engage with professional adults and make genuine connections. Remember that more than 80% of internships and jobs are found via networking. Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect time to demonstrate to Uncle Steve or Aunt Susan that you are mature, poised, and ready to make connections and gain work experience.
Traditional Thanksgiving feasts aren’t just about mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, they are about connections and family. Take the long weekend to really work on your professional network as well as the turkey trot.
Ready to have meaningful conversations at the adult table?
Keep these tips in mind
- Don’t Drink Too Much
Uncle Arthur will be less inclined to connect you to his colleagues or friends if you are slurring your words or appear tipsy.
- Engage with Every Adult in Attendance
Everyone genuinely knows 50 people or more. Even if your mother’s best friend works in finance and you want to work in marketing, engage with her. At some point in the conversation tell her about your major and career aspirations. Ask her if she would be willing to connect you to some people who work in your industries of interest.
You have this chance to sit down with extend family and family friends that care about you, take some time to see who they know. Let them help.
- Introduce Yourself to Newcomers
Enjoy some hors d’oeuvres and then meet people. Those who are new to your gathering may feel a little awkward. Welcome them to your celebration and start a conversation.
- Don’t Talk About Politics, Family Secrets or Gossip
With every topic you discuss, be positive. Remember, you’re creating an impression in people’s minds. There are plenty of safe topics to discuss.
If you can’t think of a way to get started, sweet potatoes. Everyone has an opinion about how to prepare or enjoy sweet potatoes (or any other item on the Thanksgiving menu).
- Show a Genuine Interest
“You can make more friends in two months by being genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get them interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie. This is your family, given and/or chosen, how do they spend their time? What is their life like?
- Put On Your Discovery Hat
Your Uncle Dave works for X but do you really know what he does? Aunt Bernice works for X but what exactly does she do? Are they passionate about it? Do they have a hobby that they spend time focusing on that interests you?
- Ask Smart and Meaningful Questions
Instead of “Uncle Michael where do you work?” or “Uncle Andrew what do you do for a living again?” Try something like: “Uncle Michael how did you choose to become an architect?” And then follow up with questions like: “What types of projects do you work on?” and “Can you describe a typical day on your job?”
Ask them meaningful questions about their job and career path. Like your mom’s friend that works in finance, they may not work in your chosen industry, but remember to consider who they know. By showing an interest in one’s job, company or career, you can easily switch the vibe from green bean casserole to informational interviews.
Remember, there are many types of networking but it is a vital skill for anyone looking to succeed in the modern business world. Whether you’re seeking a new job, or internship, networking can help you achieve your goals. There are a variety of traditional networking opportunities always available, however, the opportunity to network with you extend family doesn’t happen often.
One of the most important things to remember when networking is that it’s not just about what you know, but also about who you know. Making connections with influential people can open doors that would otherwise be closed, so it’s important to put yourself out there and get to know as many people as possible.
When networking this Thanksgiving, take the time to get to know the people/family you meet, and don’t be afraid to reach out and stay in touch after the last slice of pecan pie is gone. Networking is a powerful tool that can help you achieve success in your career. By taking advantage of networking opportunities and building professional relationships with the people you meet, you can open doors that would otherwise be closed. So get out there and get started.