Here we are at the beginning of a New Year. The revelry of the holidays is behind us, and it’s time to get serious and get back to work. But before we get too deep into goals, strategies, tactics and financial projections, let’s take a look at how you can turn some traditional holiday practices into greater profits in 2015.
My clients and I use the phrase “Pop a cork!” as a cue to stop and celebrate. Why? Because sharing a toast does two things; it recognizes progress and potential. It says, “Wow, something great happened, and here’s a toast to having more of it!”
That’s the kind of energy we need to keep us moving all year long, so don’t save your celebrations for the beginning of 2016, find a reason to pop a cork (real or virtual) at least once a month.
We’re reminded, during the holidays, of how much we have to be grateful for. Expressing gratitude can be a powerful exercise in business as well. Take stock of all the things you have to be grateful for in your professional life. All the people you’ve connected with, all the experience you’ve accumulated, all the clients you’ve served. Guess what you’ve done. You’ve inventoried your resources. And you’ve probably uncovered a few that are undeveloped; people you’ve neglected, talents and skills you haven’t leveraged, testimonials you haven’t asked for. Develop those resources, and you’ll have more reasons to say “Pop a cork” and even more to be grateful for the next time you take stock.
3. Sending cards.
Right now it’s probably easy to remember the last time you received a physical card, with a stamp and a handwritten address. But by March you’ll probably have to think back three months to remember how it felt knowing someone took the time to think of you.
If it’s true for you it’s probably true for some people who are important to your business. They may be prospects you haven’t worked with yet, referral sources you haven’t talked to for a while, or even ex-employees who’ve gone on to bigger things but might be your best source of talent and clients if you keep the relationship fresh. Anyone who showed up on your gratitude inventory should probably go on your “just because” greeting card list.
4. Giving gifts.
Do you know when you’ll find the most sugar in your dentist’s office? You got it, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. That’s because general dentists refer business to dental specialists. So every year they get an avalanche of gifts from the practices who have received their referrals. And, as ironic as it may be, most of those gifts are sweets.
Gifts are sweet any time of year. In fact, they’re even sweeter when they aren’t anticipated, or expected. You don’t have to give big gifts, it might just mean spending a little extra time with a client or making a small contribution to a cause you know an employee holds dear. It’s more than the thought that counts, but it’s the thought that counts the most in building meaningful relationships with your referral partners, prospects, employees and friends of the business.
Not the drink until dawn kind of parties. With the exception of a few industries, those probably won’t do much for your reputation. But during the holidays we take more time to reconnect, see people we haven’t seen for a while, and hang out with no agenda except catching up or getting to know each other a little better. Anyone can put together a networking event, the real key to building business relationships by hosting get-togethers is to let go of the agendas and simply connect.
Each year as we say "goodbye" to the old and "hello" to the new, many of us have made a practice of reflecting on the year past. But in business we usually go straight into analysis mode. What a SWOTT analysis of the business won’t tell us is our own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and trends. Yet, the greatest strengths and opportunities, as well as the greatest weaknesses and threats, aren’t going to be found in looking at operations, or profit margins, or sales funnels or market trends. You’ll only become aware of them by looking at leadership. And that begins with you.
Most people have “failed” on their New Year’s resolutions so many times they’ve given up on making them. That’s because most people don’t really make sure they have the resolve to do what they say they’re going to do. Even more people don’t realize that resolving isn’t a onetime activity, it’s a daily practice that becomes easier with repititon. Keep resolving, on New Year’s Day and the 364 days that follow, and you’re likely to find a lot of your problems resolved by this time next year.