Building a Brand
Gratitude. It may be in short supply in your life, or you may wake up each day with a thankful heart. Nevertheless, showing appreciation for others is a rare but powerful opportunity to build a relationship…and a brand.
Here are six creative ways to show your clients a little love and gratitude. The idea is to plant a seed that communicates how much you value them. The harvest might come later with new work or a referral.
1. Handwritten notes
Handwritten notes and letters experienced a positive rebound during 2020 when people had time to reflect on the relationships that matter most to them. If you were one of the lucky recipients, you know the warm fuzzies that it delivers. Someone took time to write about their appreciation, send their greetings or just say “hi, how are you doing?”
Don’t let this art die. Be the rare person who reaches out with a branded card and personalized note. For an extra gesture, include a coffee gift card.
2. Active Listening
Short attention spans are rampant, but active listening is an art. Can you keep your mind quiet and focus on the words of the other person without judgment or thinking of what you want to add? Can you then paraphrase and repeat back what you just heard?
One of the best ways to build a relationship is to hear someone out; share and acknowledge their excitement or their upset. Practice active listening with your clients to hear their words, but also the meaning behind them.
Within your network, are there people who should meet each other? You probably have clients right now who could refer business to each other or be strategic partners. Being a matchmaker can be fun, and it’s as easy as emailing your contacts for a virtual introduction or drawing them into conversation at an event.
It goes beyond professional. Perhaps you can refer a professional musician to a client whose child is getting married. Maybe you know of a volleyball league looking for new players. Show interest in your clients’ lives and hobbies, and then listen for opportunities.
4. Go the ‘extra mile’
Going the extra mile matters — even when the client doesn’t notice. Handling panicked client requests is an easy way to show that you care. Just as important, though, are the ways you deliver a high quality product day in and day out because it’s the right thing to do. When you consistently dot the “i,” and cross the “t,” you build a reliable and trustworthy reputation that reflects highly on your firm’s brand positioning.
Bring your best self to the work, and you will sleep well at night while also demonstrating client appreciation.
5. Small gifts
It’s always fun to receive a gift. It should not be extravagant, as some clients may not be able to accept large gifts. But gifts such as gourmet food, wine, a gift card or tech gadget are often appreciated.
As a special touch, you can sometimes personalize these gifts with the client’s brand colors, logo or an individual leader’s name.
6. Compassion, pass it on.
If your clients are showing signs of stress or not responding in a way that is familiar, do not shy away from asking how they are doing. Some of us have been taught to separate our business lives from our personal lives, but more often it’s better to ask after a client’s welfare than to stay silent.
Compassion is showing concern without assuming that you know what the client is going through. Offer encouraging words or genuinely say, “thank you,” to help strengthen your relationships. Asking how you can help is another way to show your support.
In this season of giving, take time to appreciate your clients as much as your loved ones. After all, your clients help you make a living, which supports your loved ones!
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