Unless you are in the retail sector, the Christmas period is traditionally the slowest time of the year. Spending seems to drop, sales slow down and businesses move into a more relaxed ‘holiday’ mode.
However, December can be one of the most lucrative and productive months in the calendar if you recognise that more socialising, more events and more meetings take place now than any other time of the year.
It’s a perfect time to sow relationships seeds, plant ideas, position deals and partnerships and close out conversations that have been dragging on too long.
Here are my five top tips to maximise your festive networking and make Christmas the most productive time of the year.
1. Attend the Christmas parties
Take this opportunity to meet lots of people you don’t know. Good networking is simply turning strangers into friends. At this time of the year, everybody is friendly, full of goodwill and loaded with Christmas cheer, so you should have a friendly audience. Talk to and sit with people you don’t know to build those all-important relationships. This works particularly well in a corporate, employed setting where you can get to know people in difference offices, departments or functions.
2. Work the family network
When the long distance relatives gather for Christmas, you have a ready-made network to engage with. Remember, these people hopefully know, like you and want to help you. Blood is thick, so they say.
If they don’t know you, make it a point to ‘educate’ them gently on what you do and most importantly, how you make a difference. They won’t care that you’re a trainer or are in IT, but if you talk about how you help people or solve problems, you’ve got a chance to make something happen.
Make it your business to find out what they do and see how you can help them. If you’re looking to switch jobs or explore some new career opportunities, they could be your next best advocate, introducer or employer!
3. Reconnect with old contacts
Special occasions such as Christmas represent an ideal opportunity to pick up the phone, send a message or pop in to visit old friends and contacts.
Not keeping in touch is one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to networking and creating new opportunities. We meet someone, we get their card but we never do anything with it.
So when you do reconnect, keep it light and laid back. You’re just checking in and asking how they’ve been. Reflect on past year, talk about their goals for the coming year and keep the door open. If in doubt, don’t sell but wish them well.
If there is an opportunity, position a talk, coffee or catch up early in the New Year. Then you can hit the ground running come January with some good meetings in the diary.
4. Tap into ‘end of year’ budgets
Some companies and individuals may have ‘year-end spend’ and pots of money available that need to be spent by the end of the year. Even if you don’t deliver the product or service until next year, you can still invoice for it now. In some instances, if they don’t use it, they lose it. So it’s worth asking a question like ‘how’s your marketing budget looking at the moment?’
5. Look for great deals
If you’re on the buying side looking to source great suppliers, advisors and providers, then December is a perfect time. You can save significant money and cut big costs by tapping into year-end sales.
Many sales professionals will have end of year quotas or targets they are looking to hit. If their bonus depends on it, you can pick up some really good deals on anything from cars to stationery!
You should see the Christmas period as an ideal time to open doors and close sales. While everyone else is winding down, you can keep the conversation subtly on business and career issues. Then you’ll start the New Year with some real momentum and potential.
Rob Brown is an internationally renowned authority on business networking and high level connecting. He is the bestselling author of ‘How to Build Your Reputation: The Secrets of Becoming the Go to Professional in a Crowded Marketplace’.
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