The holidays are here! Don’t dread it; the next couple weeks could possibly yield your year’s finest marketing results. Even if feeling overwhelmed, be a part of the holiday party scene. Yes, it’s hard to get out of the office. All your clients want their projects by Christmas. To take advantage, treat all networking opportunities like all other relevant business events, such as meeting with clients, city officials, and project superintendents. Schedule your networking and then follow your schedule.
Consider this. How much work could a network, work, if a network could net work? Yes, it really does net work! Get out there and build (or enlarge) your network! With the right approach, you can turn a holiday get-together into a great opportunity. Just ask AIBD Fellow, Newell Cheatheam. If you follow him on Facebook, you already know that he’s a master networker. His calendar is full of events all year long and he regularly posts about the events.
“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. But it’s okay to exchange phone numbers or email and make arrangements to meet later.
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 and business owners you don’t normally see at business networking events. The old saying of “be interested rather than interesting” applies here. Find a way to connect these people to a resource by asking them about their business and their passions. 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 partners 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).”
We think the holidays are a fantastic time of year to continue building your business relationships through networking. Best wishes for a tremendous holiday season from the entire staff at AIBD – Steve, Rusty, Garrett, and Annette