It’s not easy to do, but if you want lifelong clients who are also friends, you have to commit yourself to the long haul.
Connecting with people is such an important component in all aspects of our lives. It gives us purpose and reinforces who we are as human beings. Making meaningful connections is hard, because it takes time and commitment. It can’t and doesn’t happen overnight. Whether you are connecting personally or for business, it takes effort and dedication to build those meaningful relationships. There are so many touch points.
Think about a friend or spouse. When you first met them, you probably didn’t imagine they’d still be in your life today. It’s taken years to form that relationship and keep it. You probably also don’t remember the key point of when you knew they would be friends for life or when you knew you’d spend the rest of your life married to them. There are probably many memories of that person being there for you in good times and bad. It’s the culmination of these engagements that has created this meaningful relationship.
I was talking with one of my best friends, who lives two hours away, about making connections and fostering friendships. For five years, we lived in the same town, but two years ago we both moved to different cities. Both of us are making connections and developing relationships, but it’s difficult. It has taken both of us a year or two to find those connections that we know will last. We both made the comment that we didn’t think our current circle of friends would make it into the inner core. There wasn’t a specific point in time when, thinking about my closest tribe members, that I can recall thinking, “These people are going to be lifelong friends.” I can say that now, but I can’t say there was a specific point in time that something happened. It’s an accumulation: The lunches together, the texts congratulating me on a presentation I gave, or the attendance at a celebration when there were tornados rotating in the sky. It’s the combination of all the little things that makes the big thing. Your clients feel the exact same way about you.
Connecting is hard, because the people have to be your people. You probably have similar views, although not always, and share those opinions with an open mind and open heart. We don’t all agree on everything 100 percent of the time. As a married woman, my husband and I don’t agree on everything. I must keep an open mind when he’s offering constructive criticism or advice about a situation. He’s just trying to help me and see it from all aspects. Strong connections should do this. They need to communicate the positive and the negative. That’s another way to know if you’ve developed a deep connection with someone. When that person offers advice or constructive criticism, you know they care about you and your future. They want the best for you and want you to think of all the options that are available. My mom was especially good at this. She would listen and ask some questions, never telling me what to do, but by the end of the conversation, I knew what I needed to do, regardless of if it was easy or not. That’s a rare trait in someone, but she was a master at it.
Making connections in business is no different, although it’s in a different context. You want your business connections to help your firm but you also need to help their firm. It’s creating that win-win relationship. Again, you probably have similar views of how to run a business and how you treat customers. Find those people, build a relationship with them, and make them lifelong customers – and friends. Business relationships take a large amount of investment, but they are well worth it for you professionally and personally. Make meaningful connections with your clients and create a client – and a friend – for life.
Lindsay Young is president and founder of nu marketing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.