It is the time of year when it seems like I have not one minute to draw a single breath. Holiday cards. Holiday events. Year-end forecasts. Next year’s budgets. Firm plan. Practice group plans. Individual plans. Directory updates. Contact updates. Travel plans. Performance evaluations. Meetings, meetings, meetings. Family. Gifts. Decorating. Cooking. Billing. Client year-end requests.
And yet, you must breathe, focus, and seize the networking opportunities of the season! So, in all of this busy craziness, I have for you the list of my top three holiday season networking opportunities. If you do nothing else, these three activities should bear fruit in the new year. And, since I’m time pressed I’ll get right to the point.
1. Reach out
The holiday season is one of the best reasons to be able to reach out and touch someone (figuratively — of course). One way or another, through either snail-mail cards or e-cards, make your list, check it twice, write a personal note, and send it out. Or just make telephone or web calls. Be you, be real.
You might find this a chore, but people really appreciate the effort. We’re all busy. When I get a card that has more than a pile of signatures on it, I read and remember it. I even put it on display until February when I finally clean them up. The worst is to get a card that has stamped signatures on it! Don’t bother. Better to do nothing than have your assistant fake it for you.
2. Get out
Go to client parties that you’re invited to and, especially, go to your own firm holiday event. I attended our event last evening and witnessed many great relationships being born, rekindled, reconnected, and extended. Our clients are fabulous and so are yours. Thank them for their business and introduce them around to your colleagues. Heck, even me, the marketer, networked with our clients and made some valuable connections.
Some words of advice: don’t drink too much, have your name tag on, eat light, don’t clump up with your own firm people, work the room, have a genuine good mood smile on, and a twinkle in your eyes. And if you see a client all alone, go up and talk to them and make them feel welcome. Also, have your elevator speech thought out before the event. (Remember it’s not about you but about how you can help your clients.)
3. Give out
Partner with your clients in charitable and community activities. Either ask about helping with their activities or invite them to participate with the firm’s. There is no better way to bond than over helping others. Everyone wins.