Holiday season and networking opportunities

Nov 24, 2014 | Peggy Gruenke | Law Practice Management Adviser

A fresh look at the upcoming holiday season: You never know where your next client will come from.

During the upcoming holiday season, you may not enjoy going to that holiday party in the neighborhood or to the family get-together. You may even dread it. But in actuality, this is perfect time to get ahead. November and December are a slow time of year for doing business. But they are a great time of the year to do some business development.

With all the holiday parties, events, and family visits, the holiday season provides some of the best networking opportunities of the entire year. So make sure you have a stack of business cards on hand. You may even want to make sure you have a logoed sweater or polo shirt to wear while attending some of these events. If you approach this time of year with the right mindset and accept the fact that business will be slow, all these holiday parties are the prime time to make fresh connections to start the New Year off on the right foot.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare for these opportunities.

  • Remove the word “networking” from your vocabulary. Think of these events and parties as relationship-building opportunities. You never know where your next client will come from, so be sure everyone you meet knows what you do. And don’t introduce yourself with the first words out of your mouth being “I am a lawyer . . .” Most people have preconceived notions about lawyers that may be less than favorable. So avoid any negative reactions and find a new way to introduce yourself. Such as “I help people recover losses related to a recent injury.” Or, “My business helps small business owners get started.”
  • Make it about others. Listen more than you talk and, as you listen, find clues to remember what you discussed and the person’s name. People generally like talking about themselves, their job, and family. By listening, maybe you will be able to introduce people to other people. People appreciate it when you do the networking for them, and they like to know someone who is connected. Be content listening and soak it all in.
  • Talk about something other than business. In building relationships, which is what networking is all about, you want to get to know people on a personal level, as well as a professional level. Take advantage of the holidays to relax and socialize and get to know people a little better. Think of a few questions you can ask to get the conversation going:
    • “Who else do you know at this event?”
    • “How do you know the host/hostess?”
    • “What has been the highlight of your year?”
    • “What plans do you have for next year?”
    • “What kind of business are you in?”
    • “What kinds of clients are you looking for these days?”
    • (Be prepared to answer these questions as well!)
  • Follow-up with people you met who you think could be potential referral sources or a potential client. Connect with them on LinkedIn and send them a note card asking for an opportunity to meet after the holidays.

Lastly, while you are sitting around over the long weekends, not attending any holiday events, use this downtime to cleanup your contact database, learn more about how to use LinkedIn for a business development tool, or think about what tool you are going to add to your marketing efforts in 2015.

Peggy Gruenke is owner of LegalBizSuccess, a company whose mission is to help solo and small-firm lawyers build better businesses. Peggy is active in the ABA GPSolo Division, where she heads the technology committee and is vice-chair of the national conference committee. Follow her on Twitter @PeggyGruenke.