If I had to name the single most important trait shared by all the truly successful people I've met, I'd say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts. When we lead busy lives, it's way too easy to let important people slip through the cracks. A quick email or postcard just to say, "Hello, I'm thinking of you" can make all the difference. But what are the best ways to keep in touch with clients?
Here are rock solid strategies for building rapport and strengthening your business relationships.
1) Handwritten notes. Sending a handwritten card is a heartfelt way to make someone feel special. It's a great opportunity to say thanks, congratulations, invite someone, or just let someone know you appreciate them. I have created custom branded note cards that have my logo and information on them. It's nice to jot a personal note and pop it in the mail to someone.
As an example, I got one the other day from bestselling author and speaker, Bob Burg, who appeared as a guest on my Be Legendary show. It said "Thank you so much again for having me on your show. You are total Awesome Sauce and I enjoyed myself immensely. Huge congrats on your new book Ignite Your Impact. May it touch the lives of millions of readers!" That made me day.
2) Gifts. Reward people who show you kindness by sending them a gift. Gifts don't have to be expensive to be thoughtful. It could be a book, journal, bookmark, a Starbucks card or a gift basket. You could treat them to a free membership in one of your new trainings. You can share a meditation you enjoy. It could be a free mini consultation with you. Create a list of gifts and giveaways handy so it's easy to send something can an occasion arises.
3) Tools and Resources. If you find an app or tool that makes your life easier, send it to a friend and tell them why you love it. People appreciate knowing about things that make their life and business easier.
4) Facetime. In this digital world, it's important to make time for real conversations with people. Take someone to lunch once a week. Schedule a coffee to get to know a new business contact better. You can even schedule a virtual meet and greet to explore the synergies and how you can support new people in your network. Having a scheduler program like Calendly makes it really easy to coordinate get togethers with people. Just email a link and they can choose a time that's convenient to them. Bam. It goes right on your online calendar.
5) Cards. Send cards for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and promotions. It's fun to celebrate quirky holidays like Groundhog's day or Random Act of Kindness Day. The Chase Calendar of Events is the go-to guide to special events, holidays, anniversaries, landmarks, phenomena and birthdates around the world Facebook tells you who's birthdays are coming up. When you meet someone, flip their business card over and say "I love to make people feel special on your birthdays. When is yours? And could I have your address to drop you something special in the mail?"
I love the convenience of Send Out Cards. It makes it super easy to pick a card, write a message, and send an actual card in the mail right from your computer. Learn more about how easy Send Out Cards makes it to keep in touch program here.
6) Just Because. Pick 3 people a day to reach out to. Endorse them on LinkedIn. Send them a private message on social media to say "Hi!". Write them an email to tell them that you have been thinking of them. Make people feel special by showing you care about what's going on in their world.
7) Give them a testimonial. Nothing feels better then a few words of praise. It's so easy to jump on LinkedIn and send a Recommendation to someone who has been helpful to you. Share a Facebook post telling someone what an awesome job they did for you. Shoot them an email about the results you have gotten using their service. This is win/win. Not only does it help promote their business, but it shows them you value them.
8) Send an article. As you surf the Internet and come across articles that make you think of someone, send it to them. Say "I saw this article and thought you might find it helpful." People love to know that you are thinking of them and sharing useful tips and information.
9) Send a Kindle book or ebook. I love sending books and ebooks I love out to people on my list. Many authors have pdf versions of their bestselling books available online for free if you search. Clients and colleagues love getting a copy of a great book! For example I helped Jack Canfield promote the launch of his Success Principles book. That book is one of my all time favorites. So I love sending out an ebook version of that book to special people I meet. Even better if you can write "I especially love what he/she shares on page 312" or something to entice them to read it!
10) Follow up. There is always a good reason to follow up people in your network, ezine list, social media friend lists, local business contacts, vendors, prospects, past clients. FRANK is a great acronym to remember all the people in your network. Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances, Neighbors, and Kids. You never know who the people in your network know. Every person knows, through various channels, about 250 people or more. So nurture those relationships and stay top of mind.
11) Thank Them for their Time. If you meet with someone or speak with them over the phone, always follow up by thanking them for their time. I have fun taking a self of our meeting together and including that in the communication back to them. Post it on Facebook. Send the pic in the email. Or better yet put the photo on the front of a card you send them. Let them know that you will keep my eyes open for prospects to send their way. Include your phone number, email, and a picture in this contact to make it easier for them to remember you.
12) Ask How Can I Be Of Service. Giving first opens the door to a deeper relationship. There is always a resource you can share, a tool you know of, advice you can give, or a connection you can make.
13) Make Introductions. Be a "connector" by helping them cross promote or develop business otherwise. When I know of two people that could benefit from knowing each other I love to make a virtual introduction. I send an email to them that says how I know each of them and they way I think they can benefit each other. Then I share both of their contact information at the end and encourage them to contact one another.
14) Build Upon Shared Interests. Try to find common touch points that you both can relate to. Are you both golfers? Are you smoothie addicts? How old are their kids? What pets do they have. Where have you traveled? Write down the common elements so you can refer to them during connections.
15) Always be inviting people to something. Invite them to join your Private Facebook Group. Invite them to a webinar you are holding. Invite them to join you to a networking event you are going to.
16) Share Gratitude and Complements. Recognize others. Show them appreciation. Give sincere compliments often. It is the small, simple gestures each day that shows people that they are important to you.
17) Always Keep Your Promises. When you make a promise, consider it your bond. If you consistently show up late or don't do what you say then you are telling others that they are not important to you. If you say "Let's do lunch" then contact them within 24 hours to schedule it. If you said you would connect them with a resource or contact, do it right away. Being a person of your word shows integrity and builds trust.
Mary Kay Ask used to say "Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, 'Make me feel important'"
Treasure the people in your circle. Dedicate a few minutes everyday to nurturing your contacts. Knowing you've set a specific time to reconnect will assure you create quality relationships with the people in your network. Spending daily time making people feel special will give you a lifetime of rewards.