Many professionals we work with recognise the need to keep in touch with clients and contacts, even when they are not currently working with them. The challenge for some is how to do this in a way that comes across as positive and not ‘salesy’. In some cases it puts professionals off reaching out to their contact altogether.
The risk of not keeping in touch
But by failing to keep in touch, you can miss opportunities or (worse still) lead the contact to believe you don’t care – prompting them to canvass a competing firm’s advice. So how can you maintain appropriate and relevant contact with a client to keep you and your firm fresh in their mind? In this article we’ve shared some simple approaches that ensure you keep in touch in a way which is well received.
Keep informed about your contact’s developments
A client or contact’s organisation rarely stays static and changes occur fast – people change, priorities change, business models and ways of working change. Keeping on top of these changes will alert you to discussion topics, sources of help or insight you can offer and other ‘hooks’ you can use to reinvigorate contact.
Ask to go on your contact’s mailing lists for news and publications or attend their industry conferences and seminars. Subscribe to newsfeeds (such as Google alerts, FT.com, Mention or LinkedIn update summaries) to learn latest news about them. Use what you learn as a reason to share relevant insight, offer support or find out what the impact of this is for them.
Use sector or general business news as a hook
The more commercially focused professionals often make time to follow developments in their clients/contacts’ sectors or the general business press. Not only does it improve their commercial knowledge and understanding, but they can often use a development, reported trend or other piece of news as an excuse to touch-base with a client or contact. The purpose may simply be to alert them to some news they may have missed, or it may be to see if their organisation has been affected by the development. This shows that the professional is genuinely interested and presents them with an opportunity to build a decent ‘catch up’ discussion with their contact.
Introduce contacts where there is the potential of mutual benefit
One professional told us they found that one of the best ways to build relationships, and show your worth as an adviser, is to offer to put two of your clients in touch with each other (where there may be mutual business benefit). The act of offering demonstrates that you are commercial and business minded. You don’t always have to be physically there when they meet either – sometimes just being the ‘matchmaker’ and facilitating the introduction is enough. You can also contact them individually afterwards to find out how they got on and build a discussion from there.
Keep an eye out for relevant publications your firm produces
Professional firms are great producers of publications, guides and articles. Select ones that will be relevant to your contact and add a personalised “I thought you might find this of help (and why)” note.
Interesting subject-matter from a contact’s perspective includes typical challenges (and how to overcome them) that organisations like them are facing, relevant survey findings about common issues or guides, alerts, updates and other published materials on topics being tackled by their sector.
Use previous insight they’ve shared as a reason to get back in touch
When you last worked with a client or contact it’s likely you learned more than just the aspects relating to the assignment. If you have a good relationship you may have uncovered what was next on that contact’s agenda, what else they were facing this year, what their professional and personal plans were in the months ahead.
Where appropriate, it helps to make a note of these at the time and set a diary reminder to reinvigorate contact with them to check how a specific plan or activity has gone. Even if it’s just a case of touching base to see if they need help clearing stuff off their to-do list ahead of holiday, they will appreciate you are thinking of them.
To uncover fresh ideas to add value and create impressive ‘get in touch’ activities, bring a team of colleagues together to analyse the client or contact’s business. Consider what opportunities or challenges you could support them with.
One professional told us they spotted an opportunity to help their client recruit a new General Counsel for their business. The client wanted someone with a legal background to sit in at the final interview stage and the professional was happy to do so. They added, “The process also really helped to expand my knowledge of the client organisation and their plans for the future and they really valued my support, which I didn’t charge for”.
Keeping in touch with clients and contacts isn’t about putting their name down to receive all your firm’s publications, generic newsletter or invites. This isn’t an activity to devolve or automate as, if you do, it’s likely to weaken your relationship with this person rather than strengthen it.
When you do want to keep in touch it’s best to find relevant reasons to make contact – ideally where you have the chance to add value or help your contact in some way.
Contacts don’t expect or, in some cases, even want frequent dialogue in between projects. They do, however, want reassurance that their advisers are still interested in them and have their business issues on their ‘agenda’. They also know when interest is not genuine and there is an underlying motive to sell.
So in between assignments keep learning about their organisation and use the intelligence you glean to start new discussions or give further advice and relevant insight. Hopefully the ideas we have shared here give you a number of ‘professional’ reasons and touchpoints to initiate with your contacts.
Can we help?
We host practical Business Development workshops, coaching, webinars and e-learning to help busy senior professionals strengthen their network and develop new work opportunities in business discussions. If you would like more information on these, please get in touch.