I’m not a huge fan of holiday parties. I could create a long, bulleted list of things I hate about them. In fact…
- The holiday sweaters. Seriously?
- The people I don’t know.
- The people I don’t want to know.
- The people who talk to me.
- The people who don’t talk to me.
- The food I eat even when I talked to myself in advance about how I wouldn’t eat it.
- The desserts I eat after eating the food.
- The challenge of balancing food and a drink and shaking hands at the same time.
- The sweaters. Did I mention the sweaters?
- The unpleasant reality of my pants being too tight.
- Not remembering the people who are talking to me who clearly remember me.
- Not being remembered by the people I’m trying to talk to.
- The dog hair that’s getting on my nice pants (yes, they’re still too tight).
You get the idea. I’m sure you’ve had some of the same thoughts. It’s a nightmare.
But—and this is important—there’s work to be done at these parties. You’re on a mission.
Your mission is simple. It’s easy. It’s well defined.
Your mission: meet one referral source.
How to Accomplish Your Holiday Party Mission
Here’s what you need to do:
- Meet someone. Go into the party with the idea of finding one person who can refer business to you. Ideally, it’ll be a lawyer. In most practice areas, lawyers are the best referral source. Introduce yourself to a few people and meet someone. Don’t worry about getting this exactly right: that’s impossible. Meet who you meet. There will be other parties where you can repeat this assignment.
- Talk to the person. Get to know the targeted individual. Go a bit deeper. Find out some stuff. Ask some questions. Start the relationship off right by listening a lot more than you talk. Ask personal questions like “Do you have kids?” or “What are you planning for the holidays?” (avoid getting too personal, like “Are you off your meds?”).
- Be memorable. Don’t do anything crazy, but actually connect with the individual. You want the person to remember you down the road. Be real, be human, and be vulnerable. Take the relationship to the next level by self-disclosing a little. Don’t be the slick, perfect lawyer. Be the lawyer who has a real life. Be the lawyer who got lost on the way, the lawyer who’s nervous about parties, or the lawyer who’s embarrassed to have forgotten a name. Be a normal person.
- Get contact info. Get a business card, a phone number, or an e-mail address. Be ready to follow up after the party. Alert the other person that you’ll be in touch. This should be welcomed because you’ve had an enjoyable time at the party. Both of you should be looking forward to having lunch sometime or getting together for coffee.
That’s it. Meet one person. That’s all you need to do. This mission is easy, right?
Where will that go? What will meeting one person do for you? One million in revenue. Good enough?
If you’ve taken the Networking 101 Course, then you already know. One referral source, sending you six referrals per year (five of whom retain), at a value of $10,000 per case, results in $50,000 in revenue. Over 20 years, your new friend brings you in excess of $1 million in revenue. See?
The revenue won’t start over the holidays. It’ll take time. In fact, I’d assume the revenue won’t begin to flow for a year. You’ll spend the next 12 months building, growing, and nurturing the relationship. You’ll have lunch four times. You’ll e-mail and call back and forth. You’ll build trust.
And then the referrals will come. And they’ll come and come for years. There will be a steady stream of business for the balance of your career.
I’m not a huge fan of holiday parties. But I can go. I can do it. I can meet one person, connect, build a relationship, and generate a lifetime of referrals. I can even do it while surrounded by the sweaters. You can do it too.
This holiday season, take on this mission. Take action. Make something happen. It’s a gift just for you.