Five Ways to Create Impactful Client Connections
We've all heard someone say "It's not personal, it's just business".
Yeah, no. I call bull on that.
Unless you're talking about a droid selling widgets to one of those creepy talking artificial intelligence heads, there will always be a personal element to business... because businesses are run and operated by humans. Business is all about relationships.
This is triple true for creative entrepreneurs. Your brand is an extension of yourself, with the goal of representing you well by evoking the desired emotions in your client whether you're there to explain what you're all about or not.
So if business is relationships, and your brand is an authentic extension of yourself, how do you build the right relationships with the right people to grow that brand into something people not only trust, but actively seek out and want to work with?
You focus on creating impactful connections with the people that "get" you. People that are drawn to your brand because they're picking up what you're putting down. You don't want to try to drag every Tom, Dick, and Harry along for your ride... those guys don't get it, and they aren't going to be your best advocates. Your time is better invested turning the ones who get you into raving fans. It doesn't matter how few or how many there are, it just matters that they feel a connection with you.
So the next question is how the hell do you connect with people when the majority of us do our work from behind a computer screen now? Here are five ideas. Some of these might not apply to you, but the goal is to start thinking of ways you can go the extra mile and make real connections.
1. Send thank-you notes (real ones)
You heard me. People love getting actual mail now, especially when it doesn't contain a bill or ad for Bed Bath & Beyond. When you make a sale, sign on a new client, get a great referral, or finish a big project, jot down a quick but thoughtful handwritten thank you and drop it in the mail. Instantly your relationship has moved from online to offline and you've shown that you care enough about them and their business to use a pen and buy stamps.
Do make sure your notes look nice, but don't brand them. They can be in your brand colors, but it takes away from the sincerity if your logo is plastered on the front (or back). You aren't selling here. You're connecting.
2. Send referral gifts
Most of my business comes from referrals, which I couldn't be more thankful for. Over time I've noticed there are a handful of people who always advocate for me and my business and in turn have sent me quite a few referrals. I don't offer a finders fee of any kind, partly because I haven't had to, and partly because that feels inauthentic to me. I want my referrals to show up because someone really believes in what I do and wants to share that. What I will do however is occasionally send out a token of my appreciation to those awesome people.
Have fun with this! It doesn't have to be something big, a $10 Starbucks or Amazon card is always exciting to get. Or get creative, send flowers or muffins or a pajama gram. Just make sure to research what they have in their area and try to send something they'll actually use. Bonus points if you send it with a hand-written thank you note.
3. Video chat when you can
I get it. I would rather have client calls in my underwear with a tub of Nutella and a spoon too. I mean, that's why we started our own businesses, right? But there's something about being face-to-face with a client that helps me get a better sense of their energy, and vice versa. It's much easier to create a real connection when you can see someone's smile.
It may not be practical to video chat every time, but if you can swing it at the beginning or end of a project it's a great way to make sure you're communicating effectively with each other. The next best would be a good old fashioned phone call.
4. Build in surprises
When a client buys a design package from me they know what they're getting. It's listed on my site, we talk about it during the sale, it's written on their quote. It's clear what they are receiving in return for their hard earned money. But I want them to come away feeling like they've gotten more than they expected. I want them to feel special. So I build in little surprises. Maybe it's a t-shirt with their new logo on it, or a nicely printed branding guide, or just something fun. The point is to make a lasting impression.
Where can you go above and beyond? It doesn't have to cost a lot of money, you can even factor it in when you set your prices. Just focus on how you can under promise and over deliver. This one applies equally to products and services. Plan on including a bookmark with every book you sell, or sending a printed welcome packet to your coaching clients.
5. Check your brand's tone and message
A huge part of building authentic, impactful connections is showing up authentically so people can connect with you. It's easy in business to feel like you have to show up a certain way because it seems like everyone else is, but remember that business is relationships. People buy from you because of who you are and what you represent.
Think about your values, your overall message, and your back story. Why do you do what you do? Why do you want to help people? What's unique about the way you present yourself to the world? Part of authentic branding is distilling all of that information into a visual and written style that feels like a beautiful extension of yourself.
Use these ideas as a jumping off point to find your own unique way to go the extra mile and build real connections with your business. Above all just focus on being your authentic, badass, awesome self and you'll be just fine!