How your holidays can help you grow your practice

We celebrated Memorial Day in the US on Monday, marking the unofficial start of the summer holiday season. Children are out of classes, or will be soon, and many of us are thinking about slowing down a bit to enjoy more family time.

It’s always a challenge to balance billable work with business development work with personal life, and a lot of my clients seem to find that even more challenging over holidays. But here’s the truth: if you drop back on business development activity because of the season, growing your practice will be that much harder.

A friend’s son, a Marine who has just returned from Afghanistan, got a new tattoo with the message, “Your future is created by what you do today.” I don’t do needles, but I’m tattooing that in my memory.

Here are a few ideas to help you keep moving forward during holidays:

  • If you’re traveling, take the opportunity to call or visit someone you know in the area. (A call can be as short and simple as, “I’m passing through with my family and wish I had time to see you, but I couldn’t be here without a quick call to see how you’re doing.”) You might also consider sending a contact a postcard or picking up a small book about the area if there’s some connection. Of course, you must use this idea judiciously. Used well, you’ll build connections; used poorly, you may come off as a bit of a stalker.
  • Doing some vacation reading? Pick up some interesting nonfiction (a business book or biography, for instance) and if the book merits it, send it on to a contact. Think too about any connections with your practice or issues facing your clients.
  • Begin laying plans for fall. For many clients, September through November is an incredibly productive period with that “back to school” feel. You’ll make the most of your time if you think about what you’d like to accomplish now.
  • Practice engaging strangers in conversation to improve your networking skills. If you find small talk challenging, practice when you meet someone while you’re attending a baseball game or traveling. The context is different, but the skills are quite similar. (Check the book The Fine Art of Small Talk for suggestions on how to approach these conversations.)
  • Use your travel time to listen to audio books. It’s often hard to squeeze in time for extra reading, but an audio book or podcast will keep you entertained and learning while you drive or relax. Email me.
  • Get into the flow of something you enjoy, then harness the energy that results. I am at my happiest when walking in the mountains and snapping photos. The creativity required for composing photos makes me think in a fresh way and sparks other kinds of creativity. Maybe you’re a photographer at heart or you could spend hours hiking. When you’re in the flow of the activities you most enjoy, you’re engaged in the truest form of recreation: re-creation. Your energy will increase, and you’ll return to work with a rested mind and fresh perspective. Use that to reenergize your professional self.

As for me, I’m on vacation this week in my favorite Wyoming landmark, Teton National Park. I have a stack of books (a nice combination of fiction and nonfiction), and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for blogging ideas. (Check out this post I wrote 5 years ago while in the Tetons for an example.)

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