Before the festivities of Christmas time get into full swing, don't miss the opportunity to show your clients how thankful you are for all their business and help throughout the prior year. Businesses should not just be focusing on Christmas gifting but making the most of the Thanksgiving season to show your gratitude (and of course discuss future projects and plan their growth strategies). If you haven’t planned on already already, now is the best time to throw a casual networking event with your clients. Keep it seasonal and invite them to a Thanksgiving-themed party with these tips in mind.
Casual networking events are effective
Casual networking events likely happen every day - when you go out to coffee or to drinks after work. It may not be planned but you often get good work done at these kinds of meet-ups. But planning a casual event during the Thanksgiving season where several people are intentionally invited allows people who may not normally go to grab coffee to get a chance to know each other and in return foster relationships that lead to a more agile decision-making process between you and the client as you know each other better. To make your event as inclusive and meaningful as possible, you should keep in mind your employees’ and clients’ preferences (consider things like allergies, non-alcoholic drink options, etc.). Openly inviting clients and relevant members of all teams to a casual event creates a relaxed atmosphere that is much less stuffy than the formal events that happens around the Christmas holidays.
Make it feel like home
Stay away from the typical office meeting rooms or cavernous hotel conference rooms. Consider a home or an outdoor restaurant/bar to keep the vibe low key and to give your sincere thanks for the past year of work together. Ensuring that everyone feels comfortable in an out-of-office meetup is hard work. If its work related, many people will, by habit, keep it more formal. So, ensure your invitations mention casual wear and friendly atmosphere. Let your clients know that it’s going to be a getting-to-know-each-other event so that they can leave their work laptop and business suit at home. Show the example by stepping away from your day-to-day office wear – check www.fillyflair.com if you need something casual. Using Thanksgiving as a theme – a holiday that is commonly associated with friendship and family – also encourages your guests to relax.
It’s an #event, have a social media presence
Last, but not least, why not add a #hashtag to your event? You and your guests can post photos and comments. Plus, social media is a great way to connect with your clients outside of the normal channels - you may find out a lot about their needs by following them on social media and will be able show a genuine interest in their life outside of work. Don't forget, however, to keep your social media platform looking professional – see our prior posts at www.polished-professionals.com for tips.
Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to show gratitude and get to know your clients and their needs better. The secret to keeping your business productive during the festive season: Make your clients feel comfortable and include everyone for a convivial brainstorming.
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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