By: Jennifer Robinson
Holidays offer a great opportunity to set yourself apart with your networking. For example, Valentine's Day is not just for lovebirds and roses; It can be used to market yourself, build relationships and work on your personal brand. Here are 5 tips to up your networking game this Valentine's Day:
1. Cards. I selected 10 people in my network and sent them Valentine's Day cards with personal handwritten messages thanking them for their friendship and advice. How many Valentine cards do you receive as an adult? And how often does someone send you a card that just basically thanks you for being you? These will stand out much more than the mass Holiday cards that come in every day in December. Sending cards to your network during the "off" holiday season helps you stand out.
2. Holiday alternative. Plan a networking event on Valentine's Day. Plenty of people don't partake in celebrating the Holiday. Offer them something else to do. Maybe even plan some fun Valentine related icebreakers at the event like, "Tell us about your worst Valentine's Day," or "Who is your celebrity crush?" Another event idea could be a service-oriented activity. For example, you could make Valentine cards at the event for hospitalized children or senior citizens. Finally, you can have a "watch party" of my favorite, "Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown." Who doesn't love him?
3. Offer a Valentine promotion. For lots of businesses, the winter post-Holidays is a slow time unless you have a business such as a florist or jeweler. Why not offer a Valentine promotion? Invite people to share their worst dating story! You could also run a contest and offer a prize of a gift card to a nice restaurant. The winner can take their Valentine or take a friend.
4. Use Valentine's Day to further a non-profit mission. I will provide the perfect personal example here. In 2012 right before Valentine's Day I saw a photo on social media from a local animal shelter of adoptable dog Braxton. Some kids had gone to the shelter to make Valentines for the dogs and then promote them on social media. I noticed Braxton right away and he was my Valentine that year and ever since. Smart marketing by ACCT Philly! If you are involved with a non-profit, you could also think about a giving challenge with a clever hashtag on Valentine's Day.
5. Take someone on a much needed night out. Use Valentine's Day to reconnect. Is a friend going through a bad divorce? Did someone lose their spouse? Do you know a single mom that works super hard and never does anything for herself? Spend some time with someone who needs the lift. It will lift you up as well! Or simply plan a fun night out with your friends. Get a group together for a cooking class, night at the theater or a fun activity like bowling. Who says Valentine's Day has to be all about romance? Celebrate the day with a group of people in your life that you love.
Jennifer Lynn Robinson, Esquire is a litigator turned entrepreneur following a life-changing accident. She conducts speaking engagements and workshops for universities, companies, conferences, non-profits and groups on issues surrounding networking and relationship-building. She also works one on one with people to help them be more comfortable and confident with their networking efforts. Jennifer lives just outside Philadelphia, PA with her husband and three rescue dogs. Follow her @AreYouNetworked and visit purposefulnetworking.com.
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