December begins in 6 weeks. Notice what feelings that simple statement caused in you. Are you anticipating year’s end, and why? Are you concerned about making your hours? Do you feel like this year has been super successful, and you’re ready to take on 2016? Or do you feel that this year hasn’t gone so well, and you may as well throw in the towel and begin again in January? Whatever your immediate reaction was has information for you, so notice that.

But that isn’t the point of today’s newsletter! My point today is action-oriented, and it has the potential to help turn around any disappointment you may be feeling about your 2015 business development progress.

The holiday season starts in 6 weeks, too. Are you ready? Here are some things you might work on now so you’ll be ready to take advantage of the most social time of the year.

  1. Choose gifts (whether and what you’ll send) for your top contacts. (In The Reluctant Rainmaker framework, this is your A list.)Being mindful of any corporate policies that could restrict your options and think about gifts that draw on your contact’s interests. In general, the more important the contact, the more carefully selected the gift should be. If you don’t have time for shopping, contact a concierge service and describe the contacts for whom you need a gift plus a price range, request three options for each, and let someone else do the legwork.
  2. Choose gifts for other contacts. (In The Reluctant Rainmaker framework, this is your B list.) These can be more general, and you might consider something that has a tie-in with you or your practice. For example, a lawyer I know once found a vineyard that shares his name, so he sent wine to a number of contacts.
  3. Make your list and check it twice. Ideally, you will have kept up with your contact list through the year, so sending holiday cards (to all contacts, including your C list) will be a breeze. If not, this is the time to update it, cull out anyone who no longer fits, and add new contacts. Decide (assuming you have the option) whether to send electronic or paper cards, and get the cards ready to go. Sending your cards early reduces the likelihood that they’ll get lost in the mid-December pack.
  4. Make your party plans.  You can’t predict which individuals will have holidays parties, in the absence of long-standing tradition or your own decision to serve as host, but you can check calendars for organizations you’ve joined. You probably won’t be able to attend every gathering, so calendar them early and be clear on which parties are your priority. Then, as other invitations flow in, you’ll know what business-oriented gatherings are already scheduled, and you won’t miss a good business development opportunity for a run-of-the-mill personal party.
  5. Make a date. Because the holidays tend to be so social, it’s often an easier time than usual to line up lunches, coffee meetings, and so on. Again, you can’t do it all (and neither can your contacts), so take some time to identify the people you most want to see and issue your invitations early. These meetings are a good opportunity to develop or rekindle relationships and even to dig into your contact’s upcoming plans to see what help you might offer.

It may feel like a long time before we start issuing “Happy Holidays” wishes, but the season is actually right around the corner. Start planning now so you can make the most of the seasonal opportunities.