The holidays are the perfect time to network and reconnect with old clients and colleagues that you have gotten out of touch with.
“People tend to be a lot more relaxed, their mindshare is not as preoccupied with deadlines, budgets and quotas. Most businesses know the holidays are a slower period, and so expectations are reduced, or put off until January. Therefore, people not only have more time, but are more receptive to things of interest. That being said, people’s time in December gets occupied with shopping and parties. Whatever time people have gets filled. The point here is that they are more receptive to a certain kind of networking,” says Greg Silas, co-Founder, CFO of BoardSeat Inc., an executive private networking club.
Use the season to meet with people personally–or have a holiday drink or meal. ?”Traditional face-to-face networking (think pre-Internet) is still the only way to build trusted relationships. Until the first week of December, the focus can be mostly business but there is a shift to a much more personal focus as December rolls on. So it’s best to be conscious of topics of discussion. Lunches (normally Tuesday to Friday) and happy hours (Wednesdays & Thursdays) are still the best,” notes Silas.
Certified Etiquette consultant Cynthia Roden says holiday events are also perfect networking opportunities, too. “Holiday office parties are also a great way to connect with C-Level executives you normally wouldn’t have a chance to speak with,” she says. “Go to that office holiday party. It’s important to show your face. It says you are interested in your company, in getting ahead, and in being a team player.”
Another option is throwing your own holiday bash. “The holidays are the perfect reason to put together an event for? people you want to reconnect with or new ones you would like to get to know. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. An open house that lasts only for a few hours serving simple hors d’oeuvres and wine is a great way to celebrate and connect,” offers Roden.
Roch Tranel of The Tranel Financial Group also suggests making sure to network with the people around you–friends, neighbors, parents of their kids’ friends, and church members. “You need to tap into the business realm of their friends in order to grow their business and at the same time, maintain a friendship. ?Business owners need to tap into this community, which is right in front of them, and when they do, they will find it’s beneficial for their business,” says Tranel.
If you can’t meet in person, reach out in other ways. “Send them a Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Halloween greeting. If it is by email, make certain you use their name in the subject line and in the body,” says event planner Glenn David, of Chicago-based Glenn David Productions. Better yet, send a hand written card or “pick up the phone and give them a call with a sincere greeting for that specific holiday; and, wish them and their family well. Do not mention business,” says David.
Send a gift if it’s been a long time since you’ve been in touch. ?”Sign up for restaurant .com and bulk purchase $25 gift cards for $3.50 each and email or snail mail them to your clients,” advises David.
Give them a visit. They will feel honored you took time out to come to them. “Physically stop in their office and bring them some Christmas cheer,” adds David.
Spread cheer and network at the same time!