Business developers and sales teams often write off December as a dead month. With so many leads out for the holidays, out-of-office auto-replies “ding” more frequently than ever. But there’s no reason to think those contacts are lost forever.
Here are 5 things I do to revive valuable relationships in the new year:
1. Capitalize on the resolution mindset
January marks the annual moment when resolutions are being made: and that includes 2016 business goals. During this time, people are more open-minded, encouraging and eager to re-connect as they are ready to get post-holiday business booming. When reconnecting, send your email with positive wishes for 2016 and you’ll be surprised at how eager your lead will be to set up a meeting.
2. Delve deeper into your Rolodex
I’m always on the lookout for great business-development reads. Lately, I’ve been into top Wharton social-science professor Adam Grant’s fascinating book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success. In this work, Grant explains how success is increasingly dependent on our interactions with others and how adopting a giving mentality helps individuals and groups grow stronger and become more successful. Top on Grant’s list of to-dos is the process of reconnecting with “weaker” leads: those middle-of-the-road contacts we all have, but haven’t talked with in a while. According to Grant, these individuals can open our minds to new ideas and provide the best new insight into our business endeavors, simply because they bring a fresh perspective. Sharing new ideas, in turn, rekindles these relationships and opens up new opportunities for growth on both sides in the coming year.
3. Pay attention to the little things
For morning meetings, we like to bring in refreshments once in awhile. Recently, I noticed how much one of our clients appreciated the gesture. Moments like these can become great follow-up opportunities. If this happens to you, make a mental note of what item your guest really liked, and send a fresh box of treats directly to them the next day. Attach a message of thanks for giving time in collaboration and outlining a next-step action (i.e. “It was so great to hear about [Insert project]. I’ll be in touch soon with some more ideas that might help you with what you’re working on.”) Granted, this type of communication takes some time, but it can be incredibly rewarding. I like to use apps like DoorDash to make quick, local delivery easier.
4. Share your past work (and some new advice)
Remind your contacts of your industry value by re-sharing some of your best work of 2015. Compose a tweet with a link to a thought-leading blog post online you were responsible for writing. Create a link on Facebook to a powerful video or recent marketing campaign your team completed last year, and be sure to say why it was one of your favorites. If you have a little more time, write an email, e-newsletter, or article submission with industry advice and highlight others’ work, as well as some of your own, as examples of success. When contacts thank you for inclusion, be sure to comment back — and keep the conversation going.
5. Connect in person
Human connection is crucial to building relationships. For this, nothing is better than the old-fashioned confab. In some instances, I’ve made more relationship-building progress during one in-person event than I spent plugging away at LinkedIn and other social networking sites in an entire week. Just make sure you reach out again soon after the event to keep the goodwill going. The second time, have a concrete reason for getting in touch – offer to introduce your new contact to someone else who works in their field and can offer support. Continue to bring value to your connections and watch the relationships flourish.
Mark Fitzpatrick is the founder and CEO of RUHM Luxury Marketing.