Making a List, Checking it Twice: Plan Your Client Holiday Party Strategy

It's the most wonderful time of the year to nurture client relationships. For most lawyers and law firms, the start of the holiday season means sending gifts and cards to their clients. It also means inviting them to holiday gatherings. These events require a certain investment of money, of course, and also time -- not only your time, but your clients' time as well. Be sure to make it worthwhile for both of you.

Before ordering the menus and putting together the invitation list, ask yourself why you want to have a holiday party and why your clients would want to be there.

In a business setting, even something as simple as a holiday gathering should make business sense. Is this a chance to personalize your client interactions? Is it an opportunity to introduce clients to your colleagues and other key connections? Could it be yet another venue for highlighting your capabilities? Or simply an opportunity to show clients that you genuinely value their business? Every interaction with a client has potential value. Consider the ways you might be able to leverage this event for business and networking purposes.

After all, clients will be asking themselves these very same questions when they receive your invitation. Like all of us, they're juggling end-of-year deadlines, next-year planning activities, and a flurry of social activities with family, friends, and colleagues.

Your best chance at getting the firm's holiday party on their calendars is by offering them a compelling reason to attend. Go beyond cocktails and hors d'oeuvre, and get creative. Provide educational programming, holiday-themed services or goods, or a shared activity. Consider your potential invitees and plan ideas that will not only encourage them to attend but also encourage them to engage.

A holiday gathering is, at its core, another networking event. But it's one that provides the host with big advantages. First, the relatively relaxed setting of a holiday event lends itself to easy communication, which can help you to learn and understand your client's challenges and concerns. Second, you have control over every detail -- from who will be in the room, to what will be on the agenda, to what you hope each client will take away after the event.

Above all, focus on the client relationship. What value can you offer, and what value can you gain, from entertaining during the holiday season?  

By: Gina Eliadis, Content Manager, Baker Donelson

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