‘Tis the season for festive socializing, which may also remind you to make a New Year’s resolution to improve your networking in 2018. The holidays offer a perfect opportunity to kick this off and reach out to people you need to stay in touch with, and then keep the momentum going throughout the upcoming months.
To help you start the New Year right, we hosted a #relationshipcapital Twitter chat about how to reconnect with your network contacts. From keeping your outreach interesting to avoiding being a pest, here are some of the best responses from our participants.
1. Do you take advantage of the holidays and New Year as a time to reconnect with people?
@GaryBelsky: Yes. People are in a reflective and grateful mood. But you have to be subtle and giving.
@GaryBelsky: Go for a reminder of how they’ve helped YOU. That primes them to help some more.
@likeitsmyjob: Holiday cards are a great way to slip in a reminder to your contact about meeting soon for coffee…or eggnog.
Using the holidays to reach out to contacts is both accepted and recommended for salespeople or anyone whose role is dependent upon gaining and retaining clients. Most people tend to make more time to socialize during this time of year and are generally more receptive to requests. It’s also a great opportunity to show thankfulness and good will, which adds a personal aspect to your business relationships.
2: How do you check in without being a nudge?
@ChrisSalisbury: I like to do both: drop a quick email and a follow-up call a day later.
@davidhain: Relationships need to be two-way. Some people who automate don’t get that!
The holidays also offer the chance to send thoughtful gifts to your network, but this is something you can do year-round as well. Gift baskets, fancy chocolate selections, branded merchandise, flowers, tickets to events…. these types of gifts are popular to send to clients (or potential clients) and are a gentle way to check in without being too pushy.
3. What do you use to reach out (email, phone, etc.)?
@WhatsInAName82: A quick phone call or even coffee for my MVPs… I prefer high touch with my high tech ????
We also had several people mention that they use holiday and special occasion cards (both paper and electronic versions) to reach out. This includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and birthdays, as well as less official holidays like Administrative Assistant’s Day.
4: How do you make your outreach interesting?
@ConnectLeader: Make it personal – a video message or a photo from the past especially on #TBT
For more casual industries or strong network connections, we noted that humor often came into play for holiday outreach. For example, some people would create custom GIFs or e-cards (such as the popular Elf Yourself videos around the holidays). For more formal industries and connections, some creative outreach ideas include sending relevant or interesting industry articles, or simply sending emails showing you remembered important events in your contact’s personal life (receiving an award, moving to a new house, etc.).
5: Do you prefer to reach out before or after the New Year?
@ChrisSalisbury: I like to do multi-touch reach outs before the holidays with a plan of action to reconnect after the New Year!
@ConnectLeader: I would tend to reconnect before the New Year. Good time for holiday cheer, etc.
In short, there’s no right answer on when to reach out, but keep in mind that the end of November and all of December are usually very busy months for people and your outreach could get lost in the shuffle of festivities and glad tidings. Always follow up in the New Year!