As I celebrate 15 years at Findsome & Winmore, I’m humbled by the amazing clients and talented team I work with every day. When I started with the company in November 2004, the digital landscape was vastly different (to put it in perspective, the hottest new cell phone at the time was the Motorola Razr, and the first iPhone was still three years away). I’ve seen our company grow from a website company to a full-service agency. As our company has expanded, my relationships with clients and the team have continued to flourish based on the lessons I’ve learned throughout the years. While I could list hundreds of tips I’ve learned, I thought I would narrow it down and share my top five tips for great client relationships.
Be Trustworthy and Manage Expectations
Manage client expectations through thick and thin by being as transparent as possible. A mentor once told me, “expectations are everything in relationships.” Applying this principle has changed not only the way I manage my team but how I handle every client relationship. Ensuring that I use our agency’s core values as a guiding force while managing expectations and giving feedback is paramount.
I also recommend over-communicating, especially if previous miscommunications have occurred. Assumptions can paralyze the team’s effectiveness as well as client understanding and expectations. Once you’ve defined expectations, it’s time to defy them. Demonstrate that you’re there to do more than just your job; you’re an extension of their team and there to help them strategize to achieve success.
I remember sitting down and pouring over business cards very early in my career. I was so proud that I had hundreds of cards, yet as I went through them, I realized I had no real connection to these individuals. It became very apparent that gathering business cards and making cold calls wasn’t the way to go. I needed to immerse myself in the community and get involved. I was told early in my career that committee and board involvement would help me gain footing in my community and build relationships. To this day, this is the most valuable piece of networking advice I can share.
Never Stop Learning
This is one of our agency’s core values, and make no mistake – it is vital. Communication methods and preferences change quickly in our business. Companies fall behind when they don’t stay on top of the latest ideas and trends that serve the goals of their clients. Look to resources for guidance, subscribe to industry news and stay up to date on relevant trends. Lastly, have professional mentors who are willing to share their expertise.
Preparation is Key
Expect the unexpected and always be prepared. I can’t stress this tip enough, as first impressions can make or break prospective relationships. Know your audience and who will be attending meetings. Always do your research prior to the meeting; not after. There’s no such thing as being over-prepared.
Let your clients and employees know how much you care. A personalized gesture can mean the world to a client and show them how special they are. Write a note to tell an employee or client how much you value them. Meaningful relationships require work to create and maintain; however, they’re the core of any successful business and entirely possible when you nurture them from the start. Relationships are key, and the most productive ones are built upon mutual and fundamental respect. They’re your most valuable assets.
Every day, I benefit from the knowledge I’ve gained and lessons I’ve learned while working with our terrific clients and talented team. But it all boils down to maintaining relationships that truly matter. Here’s to another 15 years of making connections and being truly grateful to work at such an amazing company.