"Network during the holidays"By Biba Pedron

2012 is almost over, if you haven’t reached your networking goals this year, it is not too late. The holiday season is a great time to reactivate your contacts. Since the period will be more quiet, people will receive less emails, less phone call, take this opportunity to reach out.

But first, let’s check and track what happened in the past 11 months. How many events did you attend, how many business cards did you collect, how many follow-up meetings did you schedule, and how many new clients did you get from your networking efforts. Take this opportunity to organize and update your database and formally enter your contacts on software like Act, Outlook, or simply Excel. Even if you if you are not technology savvy, make sure to take all the business cards you collected off your selves or shoes box and create a database to set up a concrete follow-up system.

How to effectively reactivate all your contacts and implement your follow-up system

Send a greeting card just to say “Hi.” Important: don’t try to sell anything, you are here to build a relationship, not to do a sale pitch. Ask them how you could help, it is ALL ABOUT THEM NOT YOU. A couple of weeks after the card, give them a call to invite them for a drink or a coffee to learn more about their business. Invite them to join you at holiday parties. Listen to what they say and take notes to find out what you can do for them. Then write your notes down to use them later in your follow-up system.

If you know that their birthday is coming up, send them a birthday card. People always like nice attention and the fact that you remember personal information about them. The recipient will be impressed and you will be number one on their list when they will need your service or will have a referral for you.

Send a holiday card if it is the one action you will take by the end of the year, don’t miss this opportunity. Even if you didn’t see them or spoke with them for months, it is the perfect time to reactivate the connection and come back on the top of their mind. Don’t forget to put them on your follow-up system so by next year you won’t be months without keeping in touch with them on a regular basis.

Offer holiday gifts, besides greeting cards, you can also choose to send a personalized gift as a thank you, or attract the attention of your contacts. Especially if you haven’t seen them for a while. Choose a gift which your contact will enjoy and use, so they will always remember you.

Send gift cards, for example a Starbucks card and include a note that say “Have a Latte on ME!” , or a card for a restaurant and say “ Enjoy this holiday meal to celebrate the end of the year”, or a card for Barnes & Nobles and recommend your favorite book, or a book related to their interest of you know them or their business. Be creative! Again you want to stand out from the crowd and make sure people will remember you.

Join holidays parties and have fun. They are usually more social during this period and you will meet other types of people and get more opportunities to interact with them. Networking is not always about business, meeting people in a more casual environment may bring you great contacts also.

Use the last few weeks to effectively implement your follow-up system, if you don’t have one yet, so you will be ready to start the next year as a successful networker. This strategy will give your more time to work on your marketing plan or to promote your products or services and grow your business.

The advantage of having a follow-up system in place, is that you work on it once, then your system is doing the work for you, telling you what to do with all of your contacts and when to do it. That will free up a lot of your time.

Need help to reconnect with your contacts and set-up your own follow-up system?

Learn more networking tips with Biba Pedron’s FREE Networking Kit, including an ebook, a 60 minute audio about networking, and a series of 6 videos about social media. Download you copy at www.BibaPedron.com .