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  • Writer's pictureGO2 Team

Socializing and Speaking for Career Success

Updated: May 10



Whether you are applying for a job or meeting a new colleague you will find yourself speaking with others regularly in your career. One sentence can create 100 new opportunities for you, but it can also create a negative working environment that is hard to undo.

 

It is easier to speak appropriately and socialize successfully in a situation with clear roles like a job interview, but what are the hidden social rules of everyday working life? This article will give you some advice on good ways to approach social situations.

 

Speaking for Success at a Job Interview


Job interviews are simpler situations to successfully socialize in because everyone has a clear role to play. Here are some quick tips for job interviews:


  • Wait patiently to be called - If you wait for more than 1 hour, ask at reception if they would like to rearrange your interview and give them your contact details.

  • Be friendly but formal - Act and speak more professionally and formally than a "normal day at work". Speak to your interviewer like they are someone you trust and respect, but do not know as well as a friend.

  • Keep the small talk small! - Small talk (talking about unimportant things like the weather and the traffic) is expected when you are walking to your interview room or there are long periods of waiting. Do not be afraid to start a small positive piece of small talk, but let the interviewer decide if they want to continue the small talk from there.

  • Offer to help - Politeness and a helpful attitude are valuable character traits at an interview. Offer to help tidy up from any drinks or snacks that were offered, and move chairs if this is needed.

  • Prepare for interview questions - plan for your interview before the big day by using our Career Help Interview articles!

  • Don't read or write a script - Preparation is good, but over-preparation is fake and robotic. Plan what you will say but not how you will say it.


Attending Work Socials and Networking Events


The most important thing to do at a work social or networking event is to understand the goal. Are you there to help build a good team and get to know your colleagues, or are you there to make connections in other companies and departments? The focus is different for each situation so let's look at them individually.

 

Team Building


  • Arrive quietly and listen - walk up to groups and listen for some time before you speak.

  • Focus on individuals, not jobs - you are here to become more friendly and trusting with your colleagues. Focus on learning to get along with people.

  • Share a little personal information - it is appropriate at a team building event to share a small amount of personal information like your interests, likes, and dislikes. Always focus on the positive, and only share a small amount.

  • Listen more than you speak - Listening is a more group-focused skill. Make sure you do not dominate the conversation or talk over others.


Networking


  • Arrive quietly and listen - walk up to groups and listen for some time before you speak. Introduce yourself and your company, this is why you are here!

  • Focus on jobs and less on individuals - talk mostly about roles and careers and very little about yourself.

  • Don't get personal - it's appropriate to be friendly and positive but only talk about personal interests if asked to, and only if you feel safe sharing.

  • Give contact details and ask for them - take a small pad and paper and business cards if you have them. This is the perfect place to make new connections that will help your career and your company.

  • Sell your company's services and buy theirs - be confident offering your services to contacts who need them and asking for services they offer if you need them.

  • Be polite but don't waste your time - be respectful and listen to people in your group who cannot offer you anything, but move on soon to topics or groups that can offer you useful connections.


Making Career Connections Through a Friend


Sometimes a friend will connect you with someone they know in a company you want to work for. This is a great opportunity, but it is easy to push too hard for a job and leave your conversation partner feeling used and disrespected.

 

Here are some general tips for speaking about companies and careers with a connection made through a friend:


  • Be friendly and calm - make this a nice experience and keep your behavior calm. This will help your conversation partner relax and share more information with you.

  • Thank them - they are really helping you, so say thank you.   "I appreciate you talking to me about <company name>. Thank you."

  • Start with very general questions - let them relax and talk about easy topics before you ask for more details.

  • Let them take pauses and ask questions - showing an interest is always a good idea, but it is important to make this conversation easy and relaxed for your partner.

  • Don't ask for a job or a recommendation - you are already showing an interest in the company by speaking with an employee about it. Show your interest in the questions you ask.

  • Be careful and keep it positive - Remember this is a career situation. Don't speak negatively about your current job, and don't say anything to your new connection you would not say in an interview!


Meeting by Chance


You could be on a train, in a lift, or even waiting for a movie to start when you notice an important career connection is close to you. What an amazing opportunity, but what do you say?

 

The best way to make this connection will depend on the situation. Take a look at the following suggestions for different situations and prepare yourself for a chance meeting:


  • Hand them a business card at the end - if your connection is enjoying an activity with their family or friends, it is best not to interrupt them. Hand them a business card instead and give them a short explanation before you or they leave. Say recognized them but did not want to interrupt their activity, and are interested in working for their company.


  • Speak about a common interest - if you think they might be open to a casual conversation, see if there are any clear common interests you have. Are they wearing a football sweatshirt you recognize? Are they reading a book you are interested in? Start a friendly conversation asking them about the topic of interest.


  • Offer snacks! - if you can't find something of shared interest to talk about, but you have time for a conversation, try offering a snack. Most people find the offer of food generous and friendly.


  • Be direct if the situation is right - if your connection is alone and waiting, the direct approach might be best. Say hi, introduce yourself, and say you recognize them and are interested in working for their company.


Wrap Up


We do a lot of socializing and networking automatically and don't stop to think about the hidden rules. Sometimes it's helpful to take a moment to think about the situation you are in and decide the best way to interact with your colleagues or network. This will help you relax, focus on the most important tasks, and leave a positive impression on others.

 

Get used to thinking about these 4 things whenever you are in a work-related social situation:


  • What is the aim of this situation?

  • How can I make this a positive interaction?

  • How is everyone else behaving?

  • Remember this is job-related at all times!


Most importantly, don't be afraid to socialize and take part in networking events. They are great career opportunities and you miss 100% of the targets you don't shoot for!

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