Five networking tips heading into the holidays

By now, holiday season is in full tilt. Holiday parties, receptions and command performances have jammed up your calendar.

Just when you thought you had made all the rounds, there are the few events left on the calendar: gathering with family and friends for the actual holidays you and your family celebrate.

Enjoy the holidays and build your business, at the same time!

Each year, we receive multiple inquiries on how to socialize with close friends and family members at the same time being mindful of the networking environment.

Of course, we all need to relax and enjoy our families though in the course of conversation, I’ve listed a few tips which may jazz up the time together as well as to plant fertile seeds for business growth.

Follow these steps below to gracefully initiate discussions with friends or social acquaintances — without seeming awkward or risking damage to any of your personal relationships:

1. Be interested rather than interesting.

I’m always perplexed how many clients share that they genuinely do not know what their family members and often social acquaintances do for a living. And, worse, many clients cannot say with certainty that their families truly understand what they do, beyond ‘I’m a lawyer’.

My goodness, what wasted opportunities lay right on the table. At the very least, you can ask “How’s business?” or ‘how are things going professionally” to initiate a conversation. One never knows what pearls of opportunity may be encouraged as a conversation begins, especially if you lead the conversation with several follow up questions.

2. Find the pain points then listen to the answers.

Demonstrate that you are an active listener totally focusing on other’s comments and answers to your open-ended questions about their professional lives. Too often, people are busy thinking about what they’re going to say next when they should be listening to what the other person is saying now. Likely, one question will follow another, so much so, either you will recognize a business opportunity and/or an opportunity to connect your talking partner with a connection of yours, in a totally selfless desire to help them.

3. Find common ground to build rapport.

Though you may be related to many of the folks you will share the holidays with, this doesn’t guarantee that you know anything about their lives, especially their professional lives. One of the keys to engaging in meaningful conversation to build rapport and strengthen relationships is to ask open-ended questions (answers for which ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is not a natural response). Simple examples may be:

  • “So, what do you find most challenging about the work you do?”
  • “What is the typical job title of the person who is your ideal client/customer/purchaser of goods/services?”
  • “If there were no limitations, what is the profile of your/your company’s perfect client/customer?”

If you listen intently, you will learn a lot about this person. And, impress them with the astute questions which will allow them to perceive you as a savvy business person wanting to help them in their business.

Before the turkey or ham is sliced and you are called to the holiday dinner table, shut down discussions about business. Whether you are on the listening or speaking side, you can make a comment such as “we’re here to relax today though if I can help you/your company in any way (via legal services and/or connections), let’s schedule a time to re-connect, if that makes sense. I would be happy to explore the problem more extensively or refer you to someone who I know can help solve this one for you.” Be sure to leave with contact information and then be sure to follow upthe next day.

Post event – make it a priority to circle back around with those with whom you have engaged in a social/family situation to honor your word to do so. This is key! Either make the connection you promised to do, schedule a coffee or other meeting to discuss further the concrete issue previously discussed. Lesson: a prosperous business is grounded upon relationship-building actions. Honoring your word is rule #1 in these efforts.

If, for whatever reason, you are unable to 1. Make a useful connection or 2. Help your family member/social acquaintance solve/prevent a problem that you discussed, still circle back around to follow up. The MOST important thing is to do what you promised to do. The final result is secondary.

Preparing for the holidays, you certainly want to check these items off your mental list:

  • Be “up” on current events for the myriad of small talk that will undoubtedly arise between now and the new year.
  • Always have plenty of business cards, at the ready…in your wallet, your handbag, home office, in your car glove box, brief bag, etc. NEVER leave your office without a stack to spread around.
  • Basic elevator ‘commercial’ nailed down and repeated comfortably. Simply practice saying it over and over, in the car, on your travels to your destination can work wonders when you find yourself needing to respond to the question “what do you do”? And, that is our number one question, as Americans. The response must flow easily and naturally.

Now, you are prepared to go forth, enjoy the holidays, and exercise the “marketing mindset” where opportunity presents itself which, if you are paying attention, is everywhere. Season’s greetings and much success in your social/family networking.

If you are serious about leading your business to prosperity, let’s talk so we may show you the path to prosperity. This is what we successfully do, every day, just for lawyers just like you. Click the link below to schedule your free consultation.