The Festive season is upon us and no amount of moaning and groaning (not the ‘C’ word) will change the time of year so let’s make the most of every minute!
I love December – the start of a new month where there are many opportunities to meet up with clients, prospects and new contacts as the Festive season gets under way and businesses send out invitations to their annual events.
There is always the temptation to think we are just way too busy for ‘social’ events and we have too much to do before the end of the year to socialize, however this can be a false economy and give the impression we are also too busy to be available for our clients and prospects.
It is so important to keep in touch on all levels and to support our business contacts in their ventures.
If people have invited you to their festive event, they genuinely want you to be there and meeting up in a ‘social’ environment takes relationships to a whole new level.
Here are a few reasons why and some Top Tips to make the most out of the seasons events.
People are more relaxed, they have set aside time for this and will spend quality time talking to you and finding out ore about what you have to offer in the year ahead.
Meeting on a social level builds deeper relationships and enables you to get to know the person behind the ‘work’ persona and their colleagues.
Your common theme is work so you will be talking about business and what you have been doing in 2015 and plans for 2016
You can find out what their successes and challenges have been in 2015 and their plans for the year ahead and spot opportunities to get involved and to support them.
You can introduce them to key contacts who can help them achieve their goals.
What goes around comes around – by supporting others and showing an interest in them, they are highly likely to reciprocate and either use your services or recommend you to people who can.
You stay foremost in their minds as they are planning their future growth, you are current and they can see where you add value.
You are seen as a ‘giver’ -someone who is prepared to give their valuable time to support other businesses and to socialise with their team and contacts.
You will learn about the needs of other businesses, some of which you will have a solution for and others who you can refer to your contacts.
Top Tips for maximising your ‘social’ networking events
I am not suggesting you spend the whole of December just going from 1 social event to another, randomly meeting to people and hoping it will put you and your business on the map. The following tips will help you to get and give the most you can.
Be strategic in your planning for each event and look at who is inviting you, the people who are likely to be there and what you can bring to the table.
Once you have decided you are going, find out if there’s a guest list and do your research to see who you would most like to connect with.
Link up with attendees you want to meet on social media and tell them you are looking forward to meeting them and why.
Look at who you are both connected to and mention those connection to establish common links and interests.
Find out as much as you can about them so you go well prepared for fruitful conversations. Read their recommendations on Linkedin and mention in conversation – people will love the fact you have taken time to research them and that you know the great things people say about them.
Prepare for theses events as you would a normal networking event. Have a goal on mind. What outcome do you want?
Prepare your answer to that question you will be asked many times –
“So, what do you do?” We are really good at preparing our ‘Elevator pitch’, but how many of us actually prepare a great answer to that question which hooks the listener in and leaves them asking -‘tell me more?” Make it benefit laden not just your job title – what difference do you actually make to others? Think about the testimonials your receive from happy clients and use some of their words.
Take quality business cards and only exchange when asked, this is not an event to be ‘sell, sell, sell’, however it is a business event and your hosts will be hoping some really productive connections are made.
Look the part – think about what you are going to wear and aim to stand out rather than blend into the background. You only get one chance to make a 1st impression and over the Festive season especially, we can be more adventurous with our appearance, The aim is to be seen, heard, heard of and remembered long after you have left the room.
I don’t mean this in an arrogant ‘look at me’ way. It is more about being comfortable in your own skin and confident enough to stand out from the crowd whilst of course, remaining professional.
Making an effort with your appearance is also a mark of respect to your host as it shows you value their event enough to dress accordingly. Wearing colours that suit your skin tone will make you look more approachable and warm
Finally follow up – there is little point in attending events and making great connections if you don’t follow up and this needs to be done immediately. So as you put the dates in your diary this month, also build in some follow up time afterwards so you can connect online, send relevant info. make appointments and build on the relationships you have started or nurtured on the day. It’s a good idea to prepare a follow up email prior to the event so you can just customise it to the individual and send it out ASAP.
Have fun, it’s December, the season to be jolly and spread good cheer and spreading a little of your own magic this month will go a long way to securing your business success in 2016.