Photograph by Darren Hauck — Getty Images
By Greg Spencer
December 19, 2016

The holiday season may not be the best time to go on a diet or launch a major company-wide project, but it’s a surprisingly great time to network.

The season tends to get people socializing and spreading good cheer, making it the perfect opportunity for making new connections and deepening business relationships.

Here are five ways you can make the most of the holiday season.

1. Take it out of the office

Living in the Aspen, Colo., area, I take full advantage of my surroundings and invite potential business partners, investors, and owners to join me for a day in the Rocky Mountains. Skiing provides an opportunity to create a more personal connection during the 10-minute ski lift rides up the mountain or the mid-day hot chocolate ski-stops and an opportunity to capture my audience and showcase my brand and mission. No matter where you are, you can use your location as a resource and take the time to connect with clients by doing activities outside of the office.

2. Say ‘yes’ to those holiday parties

While it’s tempting to decline all the many holiday event invitations we receive this time of year, I make an effort to attend as many as possible. You’ll be surprised that even a 20-minute stop-in on the way home from the office will prevent current contacts getting cold. Maintaining your valuable contacts is just as important as making new ones. Rather than scheduling a typical meeting, such as the ever-traditional golf outing, mingling in these holiday environments makes networking not so overt and is genuinely a celebratory time to make business happen.

3. Connect with your alma mater

Look for new ways to get involved with an existing network. I typically make a trip to New York City around the holiday season and teach a class at Columbia University, my alma mater. Sessions generally include insight on the industry, projected trends and case studies of Timbers’ recent successes. Connect with a college or university in your community to see if you can teach a seminar or even just do a Q&A with current students. This will generate great employee prospects, further extends your network, and can even give you some fresh ideas about your own business.

4. Reach out to a new person every single day until the New Year

Every day of the month, make it a goal to either strengthen a connection to someone within your existing network or reach out to an individual you’d like to work with in 2017. I aim to make an effort to introduce myself to one person I don’t know at every party I attend. When I am not attending an event, a simple LinkedIn message to someone whom is not yet in your network can be sent in a few minutes. This goal has proved to be a fun challenge and often leads to a number of hot leads for the New Year.

5. Volunteer

While this might seem obvious, it is important to note the long–term effects of volunteering. One of the best ways to meet like-minded people is to participate at local volunteering events. Giving to a cause is a genuine opportunity to show that you are considerate of others and want to make a difference in your community. Whether it’s by joining a national cause or having your company host a community Christmas dinner for the local fire department, volunteering during the holidays creates lasting value.

– Greg Spencer is the CEO of Timbers Resorts

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