Networking at Christmas – Effective?

Yes, you did read that correctly. Let’s just repeat that to make sure. Networking at Christmas. It isn’t as crazy as it may sound.

Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle!

You don’t have to do anything special. All you have to do is be prepared. We know that the temptation is to forget all about work, break the world record for mince-pie consumption and slump on the sofa in front of the Downton Abbey Christmas special (if sufficiently fortified by sweet British sherry) – but we’d all do well to remember that this time of the year is stuffed full of opportunities to build lasting business relationships. Stuffed like the turkey!

The season for giving…

Christmas is a wonderful time to send out cards and gifts to your clients to let them know how much you value them – and possibly to rekindle fading relationships, exactly the same as with your family and friends. Make the most of it.

It’s party time…

Think of all those invitations you receive to Christmas events from companies, clients, professional organisations, chambers of commerce, networking groups…just go to them.
Of course, socialising is the main thing. Nobody very much wants your slick sixty-second elevator pitch rammed down their throats on these occasions – but socialising is building relationships, and building relationships is how your business will grow. Getting to know people on a personal level as well as a professional level adds a whole new dimension to mutual business connections. How dull life would be if all we ever talked about was the economic climate or sales figures?!

Eat, drink and be merry…

But not too merry. You want to be remembered for the right reasons – ‘This is someone I’d like to do business with’ – rather than, ‘That’s the person who drank too much and danced on the table wearing only a party hat.’

Keep in touch…

The important thing is having the means to stay in touch after the event. Take your business cards, or at least a pen and notebook to jot down numbers. Finish your conversation with a cheery, ‘It would be great to have a chat in the New Year!’ then don’t forget to follow up.
Send your party host a thank you note – that’s a tradition which seems to have died out in recent years. You’ll be appreciated and remembered with warm feelings.
Don’t forget to let clients and business associates know if you’re planning to close the office over the Christmas break. You could also provide suppliers and contacts with details of how to reach someone in case of emergency.

And finally…

Have fun! Use those networking opportunities but also allow yourself time to relax, regroup and revitalise ready for whatever 2016 will bring.

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