As days get shorter and temperatures drop, there is a tendency to hunker down and hibernate until spring—or, at the very least, the start of peak engagement season in January. While it is essential to use the slow season to rest and recharge for the busy year ahead, there is no reason to let your business go stagnant.
Networking is a powerful way to attract new opportunities, referrals, and partnerships, but during the slow season, it can feel extra challenging to show up for your business. Even as in-person networking returns to the scene, most people would rather enjoy a Hot Toddy from their couch than step out in chilly weather for a networking event.
With that said, the slow season is actually the perfect time to work on cultivating your relationships. Everyone has a bit more room in their schedules, allowing for a more intentional approach to networking. During your busiest months, you may not be able to fit in time to network—and, if you do, your mind may be inclined to wander to the centerpieces or the layout of your next event.
So how can you keep up with networking as the industry quiets down? Here are a few surefire ways to engage your peers without losing steam.
Set aside time in your calendar.
It’s natural for motivation levels to dip during the slow season. After all, you have just come out of a “go-go-go” mentality (or might still be in it), and you have another busy season just around the corner. You might even consider finding your comfiest sweatpants and crawling into bed for the foreseeable future (no judgment!).
If you want to prioritize networking during your downtime, you have to commit to blocking time for it each week. It could be attending networking events, sending introductory emails, or grabbing coffee or a cocktail with a peer. How you accomplish it may vary from week to week, but building a habit will ensure that you stick with it through the season.
Stay up-to-date with local networking opportunities.
Although general networking tends to slow down at this time of year, we do get to have our fill of holiday celebrations and events! If you are a member of an industry association, be sure to follow the local chapter on social media to stay tuned into their upcoming events. You may even consider reaching out to see if you can sponsor an event or help out with set-up for an additional chance for light networking.
Outside of the event industry, chambers of commerce, rotary clubs, and other business organizations are also great places to attend holiday parties. If you are looking to branch out and build relationships with different types of businesses, look into your local small business community for new opportunities.
Schedule Zoom chats with fellow industry pros.
After a year-plus of Zoom-only meetings, you might be just fine if you never had to join a video conference again. However, they continue to be a great solution for networking from a distance so don’t cut those ties too soon. Consider hosting a holiday hangout with your closest industry friends or forming a mastermind of fellow event entrepreneurs to talk business, life, and everything in between.
While Zoom can be a challenging space to start new relationships, it is perfect for nurturing established friendships, so gather your peeps for a fun get-together! Take it up a notch by planning holiday games, taking a virtual class together, or starting a challenge (like best Zoom background, worst holiday sweater, and so on). Engaging activities will make everyone forget that they’re sitting in their living rooms!
Be intentional about gifting.
Who doesn’t love receiving a thoughtful gift? There’s a reason “gifts” are one of the love languages! If your time is limited but you still want to make an impact, consider sending gifts to those in your network. It does not need to be expensive or elaborate; a meaningful hand-written card or a bouquet of flowers can make quite an impression for a nominal cost. The gesture is what matters most!
Whenever possible, aim to personalize each gift to its recipients’ preferences. Custom gifts—like a surprise delivery of their favorite cookies, a gift card to their go-to coffee shop, or a soft throw in their signature color—show that you know them well and have put thought into their experience.
As you look ahead to a busy year, use this time to balance rest with networking—two invaluable actions that will allow you to put your best foot forward in 2022. With a refreshed mindset and a strong support system, you will be well on your way to achieving success!