Relationship Status – It’s Complicated.
“Business is all about relationships … how well you build them determines how well they build your business.”Business Coach Brad Sugats
This is going to come as no surprise – considering the source is the BIG YAM Communications team – but the key to building meaningful relationships is … that’s right, communication! When you onboard a new client, it’s important to get to know them and tailor your communication style to their distinct preferences. I can tell you all about one of my client’s childcare woes, another’s golf game and another’s favorite joke. On the flipside, some clients prefer to get straight down to business. And that’s okay, too.
It’s up to us to pay very close attention, especially during the first few months of working with a new client, to figure out individual communication preferences and respond accordingly. Really, this is an extension of the work we do, matching public relations and social media content to each individual brand’s voice and tone.
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”Tony Robbins
My number one piece of advice when it comes to building relationships is to pick up the phone … and the check. If you don’t understand the direction you are supposed to take, or aren’t sure exactly how to interpret feedback, talk it through. A quick phone call saves time by eliminating a barrage of email exchanges and ensures everyone is on the same page.
Schedule in-person meetings as much as you can. Whenever possible, finish those meetings with lunch or happy hour so you can get to know clients on a more personal level. Even bringing coffee or pastry to meetings can help set the right mood for the interaction.
Don’t get me wrong – technology is wonderful. And most of the time I would rather text or email someone than call them. But actual conversation can go a very long way in building trust and developing those important relationships.
Another dying artform that I personally love is snail mail. Take the time to send hard copies of birthday cards, notes of congratulations after major milestones, etc. A small piece of paper with a handwritten note can make a big impression on your clients. It’s not about the paper, but rather the time you took to write the message and mail the letter that makes it more special than firing off an email.
Not just for new clients, these concepts are equally important for maintaining existing relationships. Like anything worthwhile, professional connections must be nurtured. The good news is that your efforts will be rewarded and the mutual trust and respect you build will make working together more efficient and effective.