This time of year, I find myself reflecting back on the last 12 months. It has been difficult for many people over the last few years, and so I feel particularly lucky. My family is blessed with the gifts of health, happiness and friendship. My business is satisfying and healthy. What more could I ask for?
After some much needed holiday rest, I look forward to 2011 with great anticipation. I have a plan in place for me, both personally and professionally. It isn’t a masterpiece, but more of an outline with some basic goals. The emphasis for me is that I have a plan to work towards in small steps. In a nutshell, to achieve my goals, I will be thorough in my practice, helpful towards people and mindful of my process. By establishing these basic ground rules, I know I have taken the first steps at being successful in 2011. I look forward to the chance to contribute to the success of businesses and individuals who place trust in me.
Thank you for the chance to help! Until 2011, I wish each of you the Happiest of Holidays and a Healthy and Happy New Year!
Almost all professionals will attend some sort of gathering this time of year. Regardless of your holiday traditions, it seems unanimous that December is a time to reconnect with colleagues.
I recently attended an event hosted by the Legal Marketing Association of New England. It was a traditional holiday gathering which focused on providing an opportunity to network. It was particularly interesting because I had an experience that reminded me of a great tip I once picked up from a fellow consultant:
“If you attend a networking event alone and want to break into the group, it is far better to approach an individual or a group with an odd number of participants (3 or 5 works well) than a pair of people”.
This tip proved very true for me– reminding me how important it is to consider how your actions impact others. Twice, I found myself engrossed in great discussions with a colleague when a third person, whom I do not know very well (but like very much) approached us. Although I was happy to see this person, it caused us to lose track of our conversation– a great disappointment to me. Of course, I was able to try to reconnect, but the moment had passed us by and the conversation drifted. I became very aware of the magic in the tip I received from my colleague!
I understand that it is awkward to inject yourself into networking events that are in full swing, particularly if you don’t know many people. However, it isn’t hard to find small groups to join until the person you wish to speak with has moved on from their one-on-one conversation. The general idea is that if you approach two people, chances are good that they are engaged in a meaningful conversation. By joining these two people, you interrupt the connection between those two people and cause an awkward transition where they must either give you a synopsis of their discussion or just change the subject. This disrupts the flow of the interaction and makes everyone uncomfortable.
Lesson learned– it is much better to approach a group of three people. Small, uneven groups offer the chance to begin a conversation without risking intrusion. Strike up a conversation with one of the three people and the other two will continue on their path without much thought. Try it!
It is the giving time of year! Whether personally or professionally, it feels nice to give gifts to people we appreciate and value. In the business setting, it is important to give thought to the appropriateness of your gift. Treat clients with gifts that show appreciation for your ongoing relationships.
I am often asked for ideas on business gifts. People want to give memorable gifts that make an impact. Giving gifts to clients is clearly a good thing to do, but I urge you to think through the choices. It is far more important to be thoughtful instead of simply checking a ‘to do’ off your list. A few tips to consider this year.
- Focus on the relationships. Hopefully you have spent all year building strong relationships with your clients. At the holidays, take the time to recognize your relationship and thank this person for their continued business. Take them to breakfast or lunch as your treat. Talk about the highlights of the year and revel in their success.
- After carefully crafting your relationships all year, selecting personalized gifts should be a little easier. Purchase gifts according to the client’s personal interests. By sending a personalized gift, you will show them that you value them as individuals and have paid attention to their likes and dislikes over the year. If you haven’t figured out what they like, take notes on your encounters next year so that you can use this information next Christmas.
- If you do go with a branded item, think about the utility of a tastefully selected item. Select something that relates to either their business or yours. Don’t select the gift based on convenience for you, but rather make it about what the recipient appreciates.
Holidays will always be a time for gift giving. The best way to be successful in your gift selection is to think about it, make it personal and always sincere.