The art of schmoozing prospective and current cash-paying clients is the single-most important thing any service business can have in their toolkit. If you don’t have this skill, or feel you don’t need to waste your time and money to get and maintain clients, it’s likely your business is suffering and you’re too clueless to know any better.
Here’s 5 ways you can start forming and maintaining better relationships with your clients and prospects starting today:
1. Start a list of things they enjoy.
Every client, whether they’ve signed or not, will have their own set of preferences as to trinkets, products, services, and activities they love to do. Some people are less forthcoming with this kind of information than others, but savvy clients will often give you this information readily. Ask lots of questions such as where they love to eat, the venues they spend their downtime at, electronic gadgets they use or are interested in, etc. Throwing small, seemingly innocent questions like this into the conversation when talking with them will often come across as small talk — but you’ll know better. Make it a habit to talk about what you like too, without making the client feel like they’re drowning in TMI. It takes practice, but you’ll get better. Write everything down in a CRM or text file about the client.
2. Plan regular parties and events at predictable intervals.
If you’re not the type of person people regard as someone who throws great parties, you’ll of course have to make sure there are lots of interesting people at these parties such as a spouse or employees that know how to get jiggy wit it! It’s more than likely you have at least one employee or client who knows how to get an entire auditorium laughing and having fun, but hiring local comedians, bands, and other forms of entertainment are also a great idea. The idea is to make it predictable and such an entertaining experience that clients and their friends actually look forward to it. In this way, you’re always cemented in the minds of your regular and occasional clients — ie., they won’t forget about you when they need you, or when their contacts need the services you offer. Make it clear people are welcome to bring their families, friends, coworkers, and business contacts, or the networking aspect of throwing these parties will be negated.
3. Follow their social media profiles — share and comment as you see fit.
Even if they don’t appear to have much of a presence on social, you never know (in this day and age) when that will change. Seeing that you follow them, make non-butt-kissy type comments, and share their content with your followers is a great way to let clients (past and present) know they have your attention even if they’re not using your services at the moment. This will not only help keep the relationship going with these folks, their other followers will notice you, follow you, and potentially contact you when they need what you can offer.
4. Take them out on play-dates and lunches.
Who in their right mind doesn’t like a free round of golf at an exclusive course your a member at, or a nice steak or lobster dinner they didn’t have to pay for? If you’re looking to schmooze your clients right, you have to pony up and pay the check now and again, to let them know you’re not a cheapskate that loves to take their money without ever paying it forward. Just make sure they like doing whatever it is you invite them to do first — offer options if you’re unsure and see what they bite on!
5. Share things with them that let them know you see beyond what’s on the surface.
Anyone whose ever given any thought to romance with their significant other — or someone they want to be their significant other — understands that doling out gifts left, right, and center isn’t the best way to most people’s hearts. We all want to be known for our unique personalities and personal tastes. When you see content you know a certain client will like, forward it to them and let them know it made you think of them specifically. Inspiration, comedy, news, and books you come across are all great ideas.
Like what you’re reading?
Share it with your friends, coworkers, and business contacts. The art of the schmooze is steadily being lost in a world of remote offices, Pokemon gaming apps, and socializing on the Internet instead of in-person. Share your own tips in the comments and let’s help preserve this age-old way of getting and doing business!
Main Image Credit: Nikon Mats/Flickr