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Keeping up a good relationship with your clients can have many benefits. Sure, being friendly will make them more likely to continue working with you. But more than that, if you nurture a relationship beyond simply “staying on good terms,” you will see returns on your time investment in the form of timely payments, positive word-of-mouth, and new sales leads.
One way to improve your client relationships is to make use of your clients as networking contacts. If you connect your client with a needed contact, or make use of the contacts he refers to you, it takes your relationship to a new level of mutual respect.
To go above and beyond the regular call of customer service, try reaching out to connect your client with a contact he badly needs.
For example, if your client is launching a new website in a few months, you should jump on the chance to recommend the copywriter you used for yours.
Or let’s say your client mentions to you in casual conversation that she is looking to expand her vineyard’s distribution to Pennsylvania. If you have a friend who works as a sommelier in one of Philadelphia’s finest restaurants, take the opportunity to connect the two of them!
Don’t be pushy or insist that the client hire your contact; the idea is not to sell but to help. Follow up with an email introduction and leave it there.
Why is this type of thing beneficial to your business? Think of it as a small, unexpected gift you’re giving to your client. Even if your sommelier friend ultimately can’t do much to help her, the client will know that you are looking out for her business and you are “in her corner,” so to speak. This can help with your receivables management, as a happy client is most likely to pay on time. It can also pay off in other ways.
One of the best potential results from connecting your clients with your network is that they may return the favor.
Since you were proactive in helping him find a solution for his copywriting, that client could reciprocate in one of two ways:
Either way, you have expanded your business network to include all of his contacts now. Your clients are the most immediate source for new leads and new information, so make use of them. Just be careful to always do it in a way that benefits your clients so they don’t feel like you are taking advantage of the relationship.
Even if your client doesn’t think of you the next time she hears of a possible sales lead, it’s still well worth the little time it takes for you to weave your clients into your wider network. Worst case, she doesn’t use the contact you connected her with, but even then she will know that you are looking out for her.
Showing that you care about your client’s success – beyond the money she pays you as a customer – is good for everyone in the long run.