AppreciateAs the season of giving winds down, the next step for giving is that of sincere appreciation for others in both your personal and business life. Keep in mind that frequently, those we know will surprise us with a referral to the perfect business connection.

Prior to mid-January, make a list of all those in your life and over the past year who have helped you in some way and brought you joy. It’s easy to overlook individuals so take your time to ensure a complete list by doing the following:

1. Review email over the past year. Which people consistently reached out to you with encouraging messages, insight, or offers of help?
2. Review social media messages. Who frequently re-tweeted, re-posted or commented on information you shared? These are the individuals who are unusually generous and deserve recognition.
3. Conduct a computer search for e-cards received plus collect all of the holiday cards sent to you. These individuals went out of their way to bring a smile to your face.
4. Gifts received. Sending gifts require going the extra mile in terms of spending money on the gift itself as well as postage, and of time waiting in line at the post office to send. In addition to a note of appreciation, you might consider phone calls too.
5. Invitations to parties. If you did attend parties over the past year or were a guest at a special event or invited out for a special meal, remember those inviting folks in return.
6. Collaborators. Reflect back on all of the projects on which you worked this past year. Who in your networked helped to spread word to help boost popularity with your clientele? Quite possibly they may have helped you to remain in business.
7. Referrals and testimonials. Now reflect on those who referred you to new clients and opportunities as well as those who provided glowing testimonials for your work.
8. Business partners. Whoever helped you to advance your business whether in a formal relationship or on-going personal effort deserve your appreciation.

Once your list is complete, and it may take several days, consider the most appropriate and time efficient manner in which to shower appreciation. For example, phone or Skype calls require more time. With whom would you like to personally connect? Traditional cards require monetary investment as well as time to address and send while e-cards are a fraction of the cost. Budget and time are critical factors for entrepreneurs to remain afloat.

Review your long list of contacts. Once complete, categorize each for the method in which you will express your appreciation. In this manner, you will be able to efficiently and effectively achieve your goal. The best part will be, the appreciation received in return for having remembered the individuals.

All of the above suggestions may be considered as part of your New Year business development plan. Connecting personally and striving to build solid relationships serves to build your personal brand and will lead you to the Smooth Sale!