Do business owners get to enjoy Christmas as much as the 'worker bees' get to? Some would arguably say: No.
For many, December is a month of winding down, social gatherings and Christmas parties but others also see it as an interruption to business. They worry too much about the month’s distractions – the weather, the risk of falling behind on sales and marketing, absences of staff taking extended holidays, block leave and a tough time to bring in new business.
Or is it?
Christmas is the one time of the year that you’re most likely to meet NEW people, go to social gatherings, attend more than one Christmas party and visit extended family – this is networking in its purest form.
Work might be the last thing you would like to think about during the Christmas break, but with all those new contacts, Christmas could be the time that you make an unlikely and unique connection.
Take your time
The principles of effective business networking teach us not to launch into "shop talk" when networking over the holidays. People will only refer business to you - if they like you. So your first order of business, while networking at a Christmas party, is to be yourself! Build a rapport while you're socialising and don't get stuck talking only about your company and its products or services. Don’t be shy to tell a personal story, it will only get you remembered and hopefully liked. You will have plenty of time to talk about your business, there's no reason to jump right into it.
This includes keeping loads of business cards on you all the time. “I really enjoyed meeting you, let’s have a drink in Lan Kwai sometime, here’s my card.” This will be way easier than making a cold call in the future.
Give to Gain
Giving at Christmas time will prove fruitful. If you get into a discussion with someone and realise that there is some way you could help them, on whatever level, then help them out. It will not go unrecognised. It may not translate to a direct sale in the short term, but when the recipient is speaking to a colleague looking for your service, who do you think will naturally come to mind?
Those who like to keep work at work should think again. How many family members (immediate and extended) have you received a business referral from? Be careful though, hard selling to family over Christmas will only cause indigestion at the dinner table. Be casual about it.
Unlike with strangers, don’t be shy to casually mention to extended family members about what sort of business you’ll be looking for in 2015. Your potential customers are more likely to accept a recommendation from your family members, mainly because you are related, putting their credibility on the line, which increases the value of the referral.
Christmas can be a great way to end the year, but don't let it be the dip in your business life. Networking during Christmas gatherings is a great way to make the most of your down time.
Happy Networking Everyone & Have A Merry Christmas!