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10 Steps to Successful Holiday Social Prospecting

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Dec 10th 2015
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The two best sources of new clients are people who approach you (they have a need and know you can help) or are referred by a friend they trust. You will likely attend lots of social gatherings this month. Use this opportunity to tactfully raise your visibility. You're not handing out business cards, just letting people know what you do.

“But wait, that's not me. I don't get invited to lots of parties.” Perhaps not, but you have the opportunity to attend plenty once you become aware of your surroundings. Here are a few examples.

  • Chamber of commerce: They hold something involving mixed drinks in a large room.
  • Your house of worship: The holidays are obvious. They have social events, too.
  • New Year's Day brunch: Some community group sobers people up with an unlimited buffet.
  • Your club: The country club, university club, or city club has a holiday party.
  • Private parties: It's your extended family or the neighbors hosting an open house.

Some events are populated by strangers and you use the YOYO (You're On Your Own) approach. Others, like family gatherings, are filled with faces you see every year.

Here are 10 simple steps to raise your visibility.

Step 1: Dress well. Aim toward conservative. People associate the style with fiscal prudence.

Step 2: Move around. Read the room. Make some educated guesses about who wants to be left alone and who is there to have fun.

Step 3: Bridge the generation gap. Seek out those 20-somethings and 80-somethings. You each represent a window into another set of values and experiences.

Step 4: Introduce yourself. Forget about being clever or adapting pickup lines. Everyone is here to have fun.

Step 5: Compliments are a good ice breaker. Avoid complimenting body parts. Admiring jewelry or tailoring is fine.

Step 6: Ask what they do. An old strategy is to identify a feature like long, delicate fingers and make an educated guess. “I'm guessing you are a surgeon. You have the type of hands needed for a delicate job like surgery.” Pick a profession with prestige. People are usually flattered. Most people are proud of what they do. Let them tell their story. Listen.

Step 7: But you know what they do! Uncle Tony has a vending machine business. What now? Start by confirming you have your facts right. “Oh, that was six years ago. I got into the fast-food business. Now I've got 12 burger joints.” Either way, draw him out.

Step 8: So What Do You Do?
Now it's your turn to get on stage. Let's look at some scenarios, most assuming they will ask.

You prompt them. You lean back in your chair, exhale in relief, and sip your drink. “It's good to have a chance to relax. It's only a few weeks until the busy season in my business.” They will likely ask: “Are you an accountant?” or “Are you Santa Claus?” If they don't, change the subject.

Rationale: You gave them a chance to ask. They didn't pick up. They aren't interested.

Your simple answer. “I'm a Certified Public Accountant at (firm). We're downtown in the Monolith Bank Tower.” Stop talking.

Rationale: To avoid jargon like “CPA.” It's straight to the point.

Relate to them. “I'm in private practice as a Certified Public Accountant. You probably work with a CPA yourself.”

Rationale: If they have a CPA, they understand. If they are unhappy, they ask questions. If they don't use one, they might wonder if they should.

Type of client. “I'm a CPA with an office on Main Street. I help individuals and local businesses keep on top of their tax filings.”

Rationale: You've defined your practice. You work with regular people.

Need an example. “I'm a CPA. Have you ever gotten one of those registered letters from the IRS?” You pause while fear runs through their body. “We help people with problems like that.”

Rationale: You identified a need, aligning yourself with the solution.

What Next?
It's time to meet some new people.

Step 9: Break away. “Always leave 'em wanting more.” That's one of Hollywood's basic rules. Don't overstay your welcome. Excuse yourself and circulate.

Step 10:Review your results. Afterward, make notes on who you talked with and what you learned. So Uncle Tony owns a dozen fast-food restaurants … .

What Have You Accomplished?
You've had a good time. You are in the holiday spirit. You've reminded family members what you do. You've met new people and tactfully planted some seeds while learning about them. You broke away before the conversation became tedious. You've left a positive impression. It was easy!

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