Author: Shana Starr, Contributor, Managing Partner at LFPR
As an entrepreneur and business owner, you’ll likely find that managing relationships outside of your current customers can be time-consuming. So you may be overlooking them as an essential part of doing business — even more so if the customer or client is no longer working with your business.
I’m here to tell you, however, that client or not, it doesn’t matter. Relationships both inside and outside of your current client roster should all be considered a top priority. As a matter of fact, staying in touch with contacts can be even more important after the relationship has ended, because managing business relationships is one of the best ways to make sure your business has longevity.
A really good reason: On more than one occasion, clients who have moved their business elsewhere have eventually reengaged with my business and/or referred business to me, even years after our business relationship has ended. This is why I am surprised to hear other business owners speak poorly about past customers or clients. I have learned firsthand how quickly things can change and how important relationships are, and will be, to the future of any business.
With this in mind, I offer three tips detailing how to manage relationships and why consistent contact and staying in touch matter:
1. Keep in mind that people like working with people they like.
Take the time and opportunity to relate to your customer like a friend but be genuine about it. As an owner of a PR firm myself, I can attest to how we PR types typically are “people” people, and I know other businesses might lack that knack for relating to others; but making the effort works. Ask questions and remember things that are important to your customer. This will go a long way to connecting with them on a deeper level and providing insight into how they work and how you can work better together.
2. Block out time to reach out to past and current clients, including their staff members.
Once you’ve earmarked time for this task, you will more than likely complete it. Spending time managing contacts will eventually become a habit. It will not only expand your contact list, but you might just start to enjoy yourself and make friends who could again become clients, be great referrals in the future or provide just the right advice when you need it most.
Personally, I make managing contacts a priority, reaching out when the frantic work week begins to level off. I budget time for lunches and onsite visits. I take the time to notice what contacts are doing in their businessed and offer any counsel that may be helpful. Taking time to offer advice outside of a monetary relationship goes a long way toward forging a deeper understanding and possibly building toward a future working relationship, should an opportunity present itself.
3. Remember: All relationships, even those that don’t end the way you would like, are worth revisiting.
This is one of the first rules we use at LFPR when it comes to press or clients, both past and future. If you are lucky enough to work in this business, be proud of what you have accomplished, but be humble in your approach and show respect for others, even when you don’t always agree on their approach to business.
If there is one certainty in business, it is that things change, often quickly. Having several tools in your arsenal will strengthen your approach to business relationships and allow you to quickly navigate change to remain well positioned for a long career at the helm of your business.