Building Rapport in Client Relationships
Earlier this week, I had the chance to speak at the STC Silicon Valley monthly meeting. They invited me to speak about client relationships, a topic that I’m known to be just a little bit passionate about. Many thanks to Tom Johnson for recording my talk so that I can share it with you here.
If you’re the sort of person who likes to listen to these sort of talks while in the car or at the gym, the audio is also available on MP3.
One of the most interesting themes to come out of the Q&A was how to build rapport with your clients, particularly those who you never or rarely see. (In my case, that would be all of the clients.) Like many things with my business, this is something that’s come to me gradually, over time.
I’m an introvert, so impromptu small talk can be very stressful for me. One of the ways that I can make this easier is to know what we’re going to talk about ahead of time. At the recent AMWA conference in Denver, I talked about how I use social media to find out what I can about a new client before we speak for the first time. Someone at that conference jokingly suggested that I was stalking them, but I think “research” sounds a lot less creepy. In all seriousness, though, it takes only two or three minutes to find what I need.
What is their cover photo on Twitter or Facebook? Nine times out of ten it will tell you what’s important to them: family, sports, music, or travel. A quick scan of their timeline will clue you in to their activities of the past weekend, or plans for the upcoming weekend. Once I know that, I can steer the conversation in a direction that helps to start building a connection. You have a kid? So do I! You just got back from Tahoe? Oh, it’s a great time of year to go. You’re in the Southeast? Did you have any effects from the recent hurricane? Something so simple helps to build a bridge between us, and makes even the work-related conversation flow more smoothly.
How do you build connections with your clients?