Forget Networking! Build Better Client Relationships

October 24, 2019 Jessica Stewart

Networking is great for building professional relationships with other business and professionals. However, when it comes to building relationships with clients and potential customers, you must go beyond networking. Networking is not enough to turn leads into business.

So, what do we mean by relationship-building with leads?

To start, relationship building is more than just putting your leads' details into your lead generation system and trying to sell them something. In fact, if you really want to build a relationship, you don't try to sell them at first. 

Instead, focus on getting to know them. What is their professional life like? What are their needs? What are they looking for in a company? What are they like as everyday people? 

Getting to know them and building a relationship with them will gain trust and respect. Trust is one of the most important tiers in a strong relationship. If you have trust, you have respect, and you're way more likely to land their business, too.

Okay, okay. So you're probably still wondering how to actually build a relationship and trust. While relationship building is not always a simple process, there are steps you can take that make it easier and successful.

Keep reading for tips on how to build stronger relationships with your clients and leads so that you can land the gig. 

Tips to Build Strong Relationships with Clients and Leads

Poor relationships will not get you a great conversion rate or repeat business. However, the start of all relationships is never strong. Besides, you barely (or don't) know each other at all. 

To strengthen the relationship, you must have the goal to build trust and respect.

Trust is defined as the "assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something."

Respect is to "regard highly; think much of." 

To gain trust and respectful from your client that is sure to create a strong bond, use these no-fail strategies below.

Show You Care Through Mail

In today's world, everything is electronic. Can you remember the last time you received a letter or card in the mail? Probably not. 

This is why mailing something to a client or potential client is a great way to grab their attention and show that you care. Send a card or write a note (by hand!) to say thanks or to check-in. Keep track of birthdays so you can mail a happy birthday wish near their special day. 

If you really want to impress a contact, mail them something you think they'd love. Perhaps they love books? Send them a new release. Maybe you know they love to cook? Send them a cooking magazine or handmade utensils.

Whatever the gesture, they will love it because it is thoughtful. It will captivate your potential or current clients. To be sure to remember to add a note as to why you're sending it and who it's from!

Help them Out with Connections

Clients have their own jobs and roles to play in society. Keep track of what your clients or potential clients do. This way, if something comes up that can help them out with work, you can make the contact. If you meet someone that your lead may benefit from knowing, make the introduction!

For example, maybe you have a lead that does construction work and you suddenly know someone who needs a new deck built. Let your lead know and give them your contact. Maybe getting them a job will help you land their business, too. 

This can go the other way, too. Maybe you have a client or potential client who is looking for a new home. You also know someone who is a realtor. Wala- set them up and show that you listen and care. 

Always Meet in Person

Relationship building cannot happen if you never personally see or talk to someone. Sorry but emails and phone calls do not make a relationship. 

Always, always, always meet your leads and/or clients in person. It's completely professional to meet at your office or theirs. And depending on the situation, this can be the best option.

However, if you want to impress them and build a relationship, meet them for coffee or lunch. And of course, offer to pay. 

The best relationships with customers happen when you meet even when you don't have business to do. Try to meet with your contacts periodically just to check-in and see how things are going. The more you see them, the more you will be on their mind when they do need to discuss business. 

Check-In

This leads us to another relationship-building strategy that works-- check-in. 

You don't have to have an obvious reason to reach out to your contacts. Every few months, send them a note in the mail or give them a call to inquire about their development and see if they need anything. 

You can also take this opportunity to share any updates about yourself and your own business. 

Just remember not to do this too often. You don't want to annoy them.

Also, remember to re-introduce yourself. It is easy to forget the names of people we have talked to in the past. You should expect this to happen since your clients/leads probably deal with many people on a daily basis. 

Simply give a subtle reminder of who you are, how you connected, and where you connected. 

Give Them Space

The best relationships take time off from each other. It is the same in the professional world. 

Be sure not to suffocate your connections with too much contact. Give them space to think things over and to progress in their own professional and personal lives.

Don't call them too often, and don't call them early in the morning or in the evenings (nobody likes this).

Respecting your contacts space will show that you value your clients'/leads' space and your relationship with them. 

This strategy is also beneficial for you. You don't want to spend too much time on one client or lead. This may take away time spent on others that are just as important. 

Send Holiday Gifts

There's nothing better than getting an unexpected gift in the mail during the holidays. Sending your contacts a small gift wishing them happy holidays will not only put a smile on their face and remind them that you care, but it will also remind them of your business

A small box of chocolates with your company card and logo is always a winner. But there are so many options to choose from. You'll be sure to find something that fits your customer and the type of relationship you have with them. 

Always Include Their Thoughts and Opinions

Whether personal or professional, a relationship is a two-way street. Sometimes, it can be difficult to remember how customers can help us when our job is to help them. But a huge step in relationship building is to ask the other party their opinions, thoughts, needs, desires, etc. 

There are two steps to go about this. First, you must listen.

Always be willing to listen to your contacts ideas, inputs, concerns, and questions. This means, always be willing to be on the receiving end of the conversation. Even if the conversation is negative. 

Secondly, you ask. Sometimes it can be more difficult for people to open up about their thoughts and ideas. Sometimes they may not feel like it is their place.

This is why you must always give them the opportunity by asking them for their thoughts and opinions. This will show that you are genuinely interested and want to provide as much customized help as possible.

It will also show that you value their thoughts and will consider them. 

Always Stay Open-Minded

If there's one thing to learn in relationship building, it's to always remain as objective as possible.

Many clients and leads will have different mindsets than you. They may come from different backgrounds. They may have very different personalities. 

To have a successful relationship to land that deal, you must remain open-minded and look past the differences.

Do not judge. Be willing to accept the contact for who they are. They will appreciate this and this will help create a productive and successful relationship.

Maintain a Good Business Reputation

A bad reputation indicates bad business relationships. In opposition, a good reputation will show that you value your relationships and your customers. 

Having a good business reputation online as well as locally will show that you are loved by your clients and partners. This will improve your chances of building long-lasting connections and strong relationships. 

Think Long-Term

It's impossible to build a long-term relationship if you're thinking short-term. If you have the idea that your relationship with a customer will only last until they buy your product or use your services, then there is no way you're going to build a long-term connection and get their repeat business.

If you also have the idea that you're only going to connect with a lead for six months, then your relationship will be slacking and never develop. You probably won't get their business either.

Instead, always assume each individual or business is a long-term contract. If you believe this, you will treat your relationship with them as a long-term relationship and you're more likely to nurture it. Plus, this perception will show through your gestures and time with them.  

Always Be Accessible

This is probably the most important tip for relationship building with your leads. Always, always, always be accessible and available. 

Provide multiple ways that clients/leads can connect with you and reach you. Multiple phone numbers, emails, chat platforms, you name it. Put it all out there so that you never miss an opportunity to connect with them.

The same goes for time-of-day and day-of-the-week. No matter if it's midnight or Sunday, always answer when your leads make contact. If they call, answer the phone. If they email, be sure to respond within a few hours if you can't respond immediately.

Being available to your clients/leads around-the-clock shows that you care. It shows that you value them and that you are willing to be there whenever and wherever to help them.

Think about your closest personal relationships. Isn't it the same? You can call your best friend or a close family member anytime you need something. They will be there.

Thus, doing the same for a client or a potential customer will provide the same reaction and build a respected relationship. 

Exceed Expectations

Obviously, clients and leads expect great product and customer service from your company. However, when you raise the bar and exceed their expectations, they remember.

Always over-deliver when you can. Whether this is over-deliver with a product, advice, availability, or personal touches, the customer will be happily surprised. They will believe that your over-and-beyond effort is genuine because you care and want to please them. 

Forget Networking and Start Relationship Building with Your Contacts Today

You don't have to be a master at relations or extremely outgoing to build strong relationships with your clients and leads. All you have to do is show that you care and are willing to listen, be available, and be a confidant rather than just someone trying to sell something. 

The goal is to build a connection that keeps them coming back. Whether it's coming back to get more information or coming back to give their business, consistency is key. You must always be present.

Be sure to treat your professional relations like you would any relationship. Clear and consistent communication (but with the right amount of space), exceeding expectations, personal touches, follow-ups, active listening, and, of course, appreciation. These are all ways to succeed in relationship building with contacts that will improve your conversion and gain your repeat or long-term customers.

One Last Tip--Invite them to an Event!

A great way to build relationships with your contacts is to invite them to an event such. Relationship building will make them feel special and that you're thinking of them.

It will also give you a chance to network and give them a chance to learn about any updates you have to offer regarding your product or service.

Remember to invite via mail, too!

To learn more about planning events for your contacts, you should attend the Event Planner Expo. Learn more about the event and how you could be an exhibitor or sponsor here

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