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It's September... Christmas card time!

One of the main challenges in developing any professional services business is finding new ways to keep your personal brand top of mind and tip of tongue.

At yesterday’s Practice Reboot workshop, we discussed the best techniques rainmakers use to maintain regular contact with their network of clients, prospects, referral sources and influencers.

Essentially, it all boils down to a habit of keeping in touch on a regular and pleasant basis. But, like exercise, that takes time... and it’s easy to put it off by focusing on the work that’s in front of you.

So here’s one of the most efficient and effective communication points you should have on your calendar: the Christmas card!

If you get work through professional relationships and word of mouth, holidays and religious observances provide a genuine reason to say ‘hello’, ‘thank you’ and ‘best wishes’.

But here’s my warning: start now. If you leave it too late you won’t just run out of time (and have half of your recipients away on leave already), you’ll also forget what you were doing and who was important to you earlier in the year.

Now, how to do it right....

What‘s the ‘right’ greeting? The December Dilemma

The seven major religions observe more than 29 holidays between 1 November and 15 January. So there are lots of ways to stay in touch. Today there are interfaith and messages of mixed blessings. There are even the portmanteaus like Christmukkah (thanks to the Seth Cohen character on the OC.)       

But if the logistics of specialised greetings are overwhelming, or you’re just not sure if you will cause offence, then a non-denominational message of goodwill won't go astray with anyone.

Or you could take a cue from Seinfeld and go with a Festivus card.

And when you haven’t spoken to that person for a while?

If you’ve been a bit slack, honesty is the best policy. If you feel compelled to offer some explanation for a prolonged period of silence, a simple apology and an acknowledgment of your shortcomings in this area should be all that’s needed in the card.

As the old saying goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While a card may not sound like much, it may be just enough to break the cycle of the familiar stranger before it starts.

e-cards or actual cards?

You'll probably find two or three different forms of greeting in your year-end kit.  For example, personalised cards posted to valued contacts, a charity e-card (no sales messages thank you) to LinkedIn connections and an update on a pro-bono campaign with a Facebook group.

Does everyone need to sign the card?

The answer is, that depends. Ask yourself, how long will it take to coordinate the effort and what’s the cost of doing so? If everyone in the firm or practice signs the one card, will your clients know even know who’s even writing to them? Does it matter?

On the other side, I don’t think any advisor has been sacked for sending out too many holiday cards. In a worst case scenario, one person will receive multiple cards from different people in your firm. Is that a big deal? Probably not. They may even be impressed. (And you’ll have greater ‘share-of-mantle’).

And, while we’re on the subject of cards, here’s some other suggestions from an article I published back in December 2013.

Enjoy!

Sue-Ella is the Principal of Prodonovich Advisory, a business dedicated to helping law and accounting practices sharpen their business development practices, attract and retain clients and become more profitable.