Are you dreading holiday parties this year? Are you frustrated by the lack of connection at holiday mixers? If you start with good intentions and end up missing the mark when the party is over, make sure you watch and listen as we talk about how to make the most of holiday parties this year.
Hey everyone, I’m Ian Campbell, CEO of Mission Suite. Before we jump into today’s video, do me a favor and hit the subscribe button and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos.
This week we are talking about parties and the holidays. No, we are not talking holiday recipes or debating the best holiday cocktails; we’re talking about holiday parties, networking and how successful business owners use these festive events to build and maintain their client, contact, and partner relationships.
So, let us dive in…how can you use these events to your best business advantage?
Build Your Referral Network
Successful business owners, salespeople and marketers are often very active members of referral networks. We are busy staying in touch with their clients, but they also nurture relationships within their referral network. And as you likely already know, the holidays are a great time to connect and reconnect.
To quickly recap: Referral networks are groups of business owners and professionals who work together to grow their businesses or advance their careers. They often meet regularly to strategize for growth. One of the most straightforward examples of a referral network might be a real estate agent who works with specific financers, insurance agents, inspectors, landscapers, and contractors who agree to refer each other. It is either a formal or informal agreement – if I refer you, you’ll refer me.
Referral groups often organize over the holidays to maximize their efforts. They attend each other’s events or collaborate to throw a party to share cheer and goodwill and share their client base. Smart business owners always maintain an active group of at least 3-5 key people who regularly send them qualified leads.
You should be if you are not already part of a referral network. Dig into your C R M and generate a list of your top business contacts – those who offer potential alignment with your business. Attend their holiday events, or invite them to yours, to plant the seeds for strategic partnership. Attend holiday business events or parties in your industry not just to find customers but to find others to be on your team potentially.
If you think holiday networking is hard, know that building a good referral team is even harder, but just like the party, you will have fun once you get there. Referral networks are the most reliable way to grow your business, but one bad apple can take down the whole tree, so it is of utmost importance to make sure to work with those who hold themselves to the highest standards and integrity.
Staying connected does not have to be an arduous task. Invest in a C R M that can help you. Having a C R M like Mission Suite working for you can lessen the burden on your time and help you organize your contacts.
Strengthen Your Connection to Current and Past Clients
Great business relationships are crucial to growing your business. Holiday parties are a festive way to reach out and remind others that you appreciate them and are a presence in their world.
Like everyone else, customers are stretched thin during the holidays, so it is important to structure an event that will provide an incentive for them to attend and maximize your efforts to strengthen those relationships. So, what can you do to maximize your chances of connecting with your customers over the holidays?
Many business owners will have customer appreciation parties over the holidays where they will provide a gift or experience for their customers. For example, an event might be held at a winery where customers will receive a bottle of a yet-to-be-released wine if they attend, a movie screening with complimentary refreshments, tickets to a sporting event where everyone will sit together and celebrate the holidays, an exclusive VIP concert. If you cannot afford that, no worries – the event does not have to be extravagant – it just needs to be a warm and memorable experience that lets your customer know you care and that they will remember and talk about going forward.
Special guests are another way to entice customers to your party. This could be a motivational speaker, an author, or a well-known musician. Or you could hold a charitable event. Giving together makes everyone feel good and is a great way to grow solid relationships.
There are countless ways to show your customers that you care about them. Again, an event does not have to be a budget-buster; it simply needs to be an experience that makes your past and present customers feel special.
So, get creative. Make a list of at least 10-15 clients you want to connect with over the holidays and give them your version of the V I P treatment, whatever that may be.
And do not forget to attend those customers’ parties when you are invited. Attending parties of your customers, vendors, suppliers, and partners strengthens your relationship by letting them know you are genuinely interested in their world. It reminds them that you are around.
Holiday parties are a great place to generate qualified marketing leads. An event like this will put you together with an abundance of potential leads and referral partners where you can deliver your messages face-to-face with your own voice. You’ll remember that a qualified marketing lead is someone who has expressed an interest in your product based on communication that you have initiated.
Again, a C R M can help you stay connected and segment your contacts and send more personalized messages to these groups. You obviously would not send the same message to all these groups, so using a C R M like Mission Suite can help you stay engaged with clients, referral partners and more.
Make Connections on the Networking Circuit
The anti-networking segment is not going to like this. Still, I will say it anyway: Business networking groups and events should also be a top priority all year, but especially around the holidays. If nothing else, the holidays give everyone a chance to get out to one more event and make connections they might have missed in the past 12 months.
Networking events put you among dozens if not hundreds of potential customers or partners. In one night, you can potentially talk to more people face-to-face than you can arrange to meet or be connected to in a whole month or year. Not everyone will be a match for you, but it is important to make connections because you just never know where your next great referral partner or lead will come from. Look at networking events not just as a chance to boost your business but to practice your “elevator pitch,” boost your confidence and – most important – build relationships with new and existing referral partners.
Attend as many events as you can and make a point of working the room to talk to those you know while also introducing yourself to new contacts. Go prepared with a well-rehearsed pitch and lots of business cards. While you may not be able to have substantive conversations at a crowded cocktail reception, you can make a memorable impression and ask for a post-holiday meeting with your most promising leads.
The most important step comes after the event: the follow-up – and we will talk more about this at the end – but think about this: all the time you spend handshaking (if we are allowed to do that?) and networking is lost if you don’t reach out to those contacts after the event and stay top of mind. And, strangely enough, this is where many of us fail.
A C R M like Mission Suite can make this part easier and better for your contact. Get those contracts entered, and you can have a charming, engaging note out to them the very next day. Further, if you can segment those contacts, you can send them messages that will resonate with them. And you’ll start off your relationship looking like a rock star because you were able to deliver a thoughtful message without delay.
One last pitch for networking at holiday events: Attending holiday networking events can help you make new connections and opportunities, give exposure to your business, and build credibility for your brand. Professional networking isn’t all about getting new leads; it’s about letting your business be known and building your reputation as well.
Listen for New Business
Whatever holiday parties you decide to hold or attend, the objective is to connect with and spend quality time with your customers and partners and to provide an environment where you can talk, and more importantly, listen. The keyword here is “listen.”
People love talking about themselves, and they love being heard. Get creative and mentally prepare a list of questions – conversation starters – to get people talking about their businesses.
Listen for business challenges and opportunities faced by those you meet to find out what problems your company might solve for them. Discover what a business owner will be focusing on in the New Year and figure out how you, your firm or one of your referral partners may help them.
Holiday parties provide an excellent opportunity to communicate face-to-face. If you put yourself in the role of listener, you can find ways to help customers, old and new. Listen to discover those who have the potential to enter a mutually beneficial relationship with you.
If you have ever listened and later recalled a detail a contact shared, you know the impact can be huge. I think one of the key elements of successful networking is really, truly listening. I have known a few salespeople in my day who were probably OK at the sales game, but they were experts in listening, and it worked to win people over. It’s easy to do, and it can really make someone feel important.
OK, moving on. As promised, let’s talk about what to do when the event is over. Yes, the follow-up.
After working all day and then attending a party, you’re probably tired. But hang in there just a bit longer because this is the important part. You’ve talked to lots of people, you listened, you learned about their businesses, challenges, and goals, or if they might make a good referral partner. You’ve taken copious notes about everyone and entered everything you know about them in your C R M, and you’ve got at least a handful of new qualified market leads.
Now the party is just getting started, right? Now is the time to get your messages together; think about a handwritten note to those you celebrated with to reinforce an ongoing conversation. Now, because you have made the initiative to get to know someone at an event, your potential customer, partner, or alliance will welcome your call and look forward to a meeting with you. Now you are positioned to build upon a relationship.
Imagine if you met someone at a networking event, exchanged cards and chatted for a bit, thinking, this could be a good contact down the road, etc. Then think about how impressed you would be to get a personalized note from that person, with a small detail from your conversation. Wouldn’t you feel compelled to reply, or at least that this person was interested in genuinely connecting? It’s the power of follow-up, and it makes all the difference.
Hopefully, you will have had so much fun over the holidays this year that you’ll be far over any networking dreads and fears that may have plagued you in the past and eager to find future events that that will strengthen your customer base and relationship. Expand your plans to grow your business by talking with the officers, directors, sponsors, or a program chairperson of events hosted by bar associations, trade associations, and media organizations. Learn their 2022 priorities and calendar of events and continue attending those events throughout the year.
If you have questions about anything you heard here today or want to know more about Mission Suite and what a solid C R M can do for your business, I hope you will reach out to our team!
Hey I hope you got something out of this video.
And if you did, go ahead and give it a thumbs up and maybe a share so that others can see it too. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos and while you’re at it, check out these videos too!
We’ll see you next time around!