The holidays are fast approaching. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to put things off for another day. Maybe you decide you’ll send that follow-up email or contact a prospective client after Christmas, which turns into “after the New Year.” Suddenly, you’ve lost days, possibly weeks that could have been utilized for marketing and networking in addition to spending your much-valued free time with friends and family.
It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the season, but while you’re out celebrating and attending holiday parties keep an eye out for opportunities to build your business network.
Here are a few tips on how to network at non-networking events, like holiday parties and dinners.
1. Honor the Spirit of the Event. It may be tempting to pass out your business card, but there’s a time and a place for everything. Funerals aren’t the appropriate setting—and neither are holiday festivities when everyone is trying to relax and celebrate the season. Focus on building relationships not on collecting contacts.
2. Don’t sell. Networking is a way to help people and make a personal connection not sell your services (that comes later). A prospective client might not remember you if all you did was lay out a hard sales pitch, but if you connected to them on a more personal level and suggested a resource that might be useful to their business or day-to-day life, you’ll make a much better impression—and be likelier to earn their business.
3. Unique opportunities – “Networking up” – Holiday parties present opportunities to connect with successful people you don’t normally see at business networking events. Find a way to connect these people to a resource by asking them about their business and asking how you can help. Stay away from your business as much as possible unless asked. If you can’t help their business, maybe they have a charitable cause they care about that you can promote. Or find a way to connect on a personal level—talk about your kids/pets/sports etc… Follow up with an article or introduction that furthers that cause—it does not have to be business related. People remember those who help them, not those who sell to them.
4. Keep your phone on you. Use your smartphone as a more casual way to exchange contact information. Instead of a card you can send a quick text or email with your information if you meet someone new. Also, make sure your phone is updated with current contact information for your key referral partner contacts so you can share them with people you meet.
5. Send a follow-up email/text/Facebook message the day after the event. It’s a way to get back in front of a potential business contact or client and remind them of the conversation (and it’s honoring the event by not doing business there).
Remember, being a good networker is something you are—it’s not something you do. Don’t fall into an eggnog-induced stupor and let your business slide into a holiday slump. For one-on-one consulting or help with strategizing new ways to build your business as we move into 2017, contact me today!
Sharpening the Sword
If your business cycle slows down during the holidays, it can be a great time to catch up on your reading. A great book on maintaining focus on what’s important to achieve success is The One Thing by Gary Keller.
Or, if you do a lot of business reading already – take the opportunity to relax and gain perspective by reading non-business books (here’s where I insert a shameless plug for The Last Cherry Blossom by my wife Kathleen Burkinshaw). For me, it’s a time to catch up on all the Conde Naste and Smithsonian magazines that are collecting dust on my coffee table.