I received my first holiday card this week. You know what that means: the beginning of the slippery slope that will have us all sliding into 2017 before we know it. But we still have some six weeks to go… Six weeks, and a heavy dose of holidays.
What would you like to accomplish during the holiday season? If that strikes you as an odd question, you’re not alone. This is the time of year when many people begin to work on ensuring that outstanding bills are paid this calendar year, evaluating the results they’ve achieved (or not) since last January, and setting plans for next year. And that’s all important work, certainly, but I’d like to suggest a narrower question for your consideration this week.
What’s the professional benefit of the holidays for you? Three potential benefits to highlight are:
- Developing and renewing relationships, which is often easier during the holidays thanks to holiday bonhomie. While it might be odd to call someone out of the blue in April, toward the end of the year it seems quite ordinary to get in contact. And meeting people often becomes much easier since the holidays are typically full of gatherings (professional and otherwise) where you might broaden your circle of connections.
- Thanking your clients and contacts for their contributions to your year. Gifts are always nice, assuming no organizational policy to the contrary, but look for opportunities for a face-to-face meeting and ensure that you make direct contact (if only by telephone) with your most important allies. Be sure that in addition to thanking your contacts for the ways they’ve helped you this year, you ask how you might help them. Better yet, come to the conversation with an idea or two.
- Get yourself on your contacts’ radar screen. The holidays are a good time to reestablish contact, especially with your C list of contacts, whom you reach out to once or twice a year. Holiday cards are the classic, and for good reason. Think about how you might avoid being in the onslaught of December cards and e-cards. If everyone is trying to get noticed, no one will succeed. If you’re in the US, Thanksgiving cards are a good option — make a note for next year! You might also consider New Year’s cards, cards or e-cards that are unusually entertaining in some way, or, for a subset of your contacts, “lumpy mail” that encloses some sort of small item (a branded pad of sticky notes or an external battery pack, for example) as a way to get noticed.
The holidays are just around the corner, so take a few minutes today to set your plans. What are your top objectives, and what steps are you willing to commit to so that you are set to achieve them?