It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of gaining new business, working on big projects, and putting out fires. Keeping business connections alive might seem like something that happens naturally, but without purposeful touchpoints and efforts it simply doesn’t. We all know it costs less to keep a customer than to find a new one, which is why it’s important to make sure your current and past clients are feeling the love. Here are some easy ways to stay in touch and top-of-mind to maintain great working relationships.
You are the subject matter expert who brings true value from your wheelhouse. Whether you’re presently working with a client or are nurturing one past, you can be a helpful resource for both. If you’ve just developed a new and timely Trends presentation relevant to your client’s industry, offer to present it to their senior management team. Share research findings. Offer to be a guest speaker at their next regional meeting. If you’ve got tickets to a great seminar on leadership, invite the CEO to join you. The key to offering value is to be altruistic. Put your interest (more sales) aside, and give. It’s the only way to maintain a real connection and relationship. Plus, it’s nice.
Build a sense of community with your social blogs, social media platforms, newsletters and other owned assets. As with any conversation, know your audience. Share what will inform, serve and entertain and don’t be all business. It’s called a social platform for a reason. Do you run with an editorial calendar? Well, you should because it will make your life easier. Plan ahead with relevant national dates you want to observe, timelines for notable business communications and campaign flights. Social media is a little like show and tell, so be sure to show! Use video, infographics and animation to bring your strategic communications to life and keep your customers in the know.
Use your digital platforms to support your clients. Like their posts (assuming you do!), comment on their content and share it to help amplify their communications. Feature your clients in your blog posts (with their permission, of course) and trumpet their accomplishments and initiatives. Or better yet, ask them to share tips and advice to profile their expertise. Subscribe to their blogs, read them and post comments. You’ll be one of few who actually do this. Set a simple Google Alert to be notified when they post articles on other sites or are quoted. We’re all doing our best to move the needle and build our business. Clients will appreciate your backing.
Everyone sends cards and best wishes at Christmas and there’s nothing wrong with being one of the masses…or is there? Use the ‘off season’ to stand out with thoughtful and relevant outreach. If you have a customer who plays in the environmental space, consider Earth Day for connecting. Share gratitude for past clients and referral partners at Thanksgiving. Consider your client’s community commitments and interests – if you’re working with a company who sponsors programs supporting disadvantaged women, reach out with your support on International Women’s Day. The key is not to get lost in the clutter and noise along with everyone else. Be different and take a more creative, unexpected approach.
We think of networking as something we do for ourselves, but let’s face it, it’s not all about you. Bringing potential business partners together can be a win-win (okay, plus a win for you too). Consider who you know that would benefit from an introduction to someone else in your network. Be proactive, book a lunch and invite two made-for-each-other future biz buddies to meet and connect. Who knows what collaboration and outcomes may result from your matchmaking. At your next professional association event, focus your energy on introducing who you’re there with and sing their praises. With any luck they’ll do the same for you. And isn’t it nicer to hear someone else say how great we are, rather than ourselves? If the laws of the universe are correct, you’ll do just fine by promoting others. “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
The most important thing you can do to keep your client relationships warm is to be genuine and helpful. Add value. Give support. Lend an ear. Be a partner. After all, we’re all playing the long game.