Conversations and referrals don’t stop for Christmas.
People travel to see families, fill restaurants and clubs with groups lunches and visit parks, beaches and lakes.
It’s a social time and though we may not be standing by the pool pitching our services we might still discuss work related topics.
As Ivan Misner points out in an article on entrepreneur.com, conversations happen wherever there are people. Let’s ask interesting questions!
Here are some suggested conversation starters: How did you get started? What were some of the challenges with. . . ? Have you read any good books lately? My favourite is: How can I help you?
When plates are full and glasses charged we will have conversations with friends and family, people we love and those we tolerate.
Not all companies close at Christmas other than for statutory holidays – so referral opportunities do not stop for long.
As David Cole pointed out in an article on the BNI Blog
This is my Australian perspective, no doubt it is different in other countries but for the most part as a country we observe some days off over the festive season as do many other nations.
Businesses do sometimes close for the week from 24th of Dec to 2nd of Jan, particularly this is the case in businesses with small businesses whom have clients that might be taking time off too.
There are plenty of people who are happy to network around this time or who would be keen to catch up for breakfast.
As David Cole points out:
Keep in mind that most members tend to be small businesses, and the majority are owners or sole traders who might not have any other work related festivities planned. Give them something to look forward to!
Though many businesses will take the opportunity to have time out for a week or two because of the reduced need for staff and the penalty rates that apply it’s quite possible they will be still checking email, listening to podcasts and reading.
With the exception of Christmas Day and New Years Day, much of the business world carries on regardless, especially national brands.
I distinctly recall one Christmas eve receiving a call from a prospect enquiring about a new website and though I was initially skeptical about the probability of that project proceeding much to my delight the website went ahead in the new year and it was exactly the kind of client we were keen to hear from. Sometimes being the one to answer the phone when other people might not can pay off!
If no one will be in the office to answer the phone then consider forwarding the calls or at least have an answering service/message.
There is a strange idea that I hear occasionally that the Christmas break somehow stops referrals from being exchanged.
If you have ever discussed this time of the year with solicitors, mortgage brokers, conveyancers and realestate agents you will know it can be a crazily busy time with people trying to move into their new homes for Christmas.
That the opportunities to put in a good word for our clients and friendly businesses somehow dry up.
I’m doubtful this is the case.
We might not be meeting clients but we are generally out being social over the festive season.
I agree that things do slow down a bit for many people.
Local businesses may finish up a bit earlier in the afternoons or simply work from home in the evening but they don’t all ‘switch off’ completely.
As a small business with clients primarily in Australia it is something of a relaxing week at Jezweb in the post Christmas, pre New Years period when the phone doesn’t ring too much but we don’t stop reading email or getting websites built.
Most people think of networking only through the traditional venues, whether chamber of commerce events, business contact referral groups, or online sites such as LinkedIn. But holiday parties, including professional and industry social events where you can network with people outside your business, can be an even better time to introduce yourself to a new contact or share a friendly conversation with someone you already know. Ivan Misner, Entreperneur.
New Years Resolutions
There’s a tendency as we stretch into the new year that we may recharge our enthusiasm, reset our internal compass of motivation and embrace January with vigour.
Whether you are a financial planner, graphic designer, florist or car salesman there will be people who have decided that the new year brings new opportunities and now they will want your help.
Find more referrals
Do your fellow networkers a favour:
- Update their contact details in your phones
- Keep your business card folder handy
- Lookout for people asking for referrals online
- Ask interesting questions when with others
- Really listen to what people are saying
- Share anecdotes about our referral partners
Let’s switch our phones to silent and engage with other humans over the festive season! Remember FORM:
- Family: ask about how someones family is
- Occupation: find out what they do for work
- Recreation: outside of work, what do they enjoy
- Message: is there a desire, problem or need that they have expressed
If people know, like and trust us then they will welcome our recommended referrals.
Be sure to familiarise with the core values of BNI.