Don’t give your clients a second thought…give them your first
Have you ever called someone and heard, “You just crossed my mind…” or “You’re going to live forever! I just said your name…,” but she didn’t call you or contact you otherwise? When this happens with family and friends we brush it off, especially since we’ve likely done it ourselves. In business, however, these statements would make a customer or client caller scratch her head and wonder, rightfully so, if you care about her business, and more importantly, what was the thought that you didn’t share. Could it have been something to improve her business?
When clients cross our mind and we don’t contact them, we miss out on taking a low-hanging fruit approach to generating goodwill and opportunities to increase our income. Making other people your first thought is the key to creating a successful business and does not take much effort. I have heard it said that once you begin counting your blessings you see blessings all around you.
Selective attention puts the focus on your clients
One of the terms for this phenomenon is “selective attention.” I like this term because it means that we focus on what’s important in our surroundings. I know you’ve experienced it. Have you ever bought a new car and then suddenly you begin to see “your” car everywhere? Selective attention exists in the realm of networking and client service as well; and with little effort can be accomplished and trust me, may be difficult to shut off once you start.
One of the easiest ways to network and develop great relationships is to show someone that you are thinking of them. As the famous Jim Rohn quote states, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Caring enough to remember something about someone’s business or a challenge she may be facing is gold! Thoughtfulness in business does not mean calling someone for a friendly chat, though it can mean that; but being more deliberate and focused will yield greater dividends.
Say your client Charlene owns a pet grooming salon and mentions offhandedly that she is finding it challenging to come up with content for her monthly newsletter. A few weeks later, while scrolling a news website on your phone, you see a story for new Doga (dog yoga) classes (yes, this really exists). Charlene pops into your mind (it’s not a story that would’ve typically caught your eye). You copy the link from your phone, drop it into a quick e-mail to Charlene, mentioning that it may be a fun story to share in an upcoming newsletter. Charlene shoots you a thank you and mentions something about her business with which she’d like your assistance.
While the reward of such thoughtfulness may not always be that immediate, the goodwill generated for you as a businessperson who listens cannot be overstated. I’m not saying to send Charlene an article about the latest designer purse, even if you and she did discuss purses when you met. The Doga article directly related to a pain she was feeling in her business and which she shared with you.
How Black Enterprise and Selective Attention helped my legal career
This works even if you don’t own the business or have direct access to clients. I love business magazines and Black Enterprise is one of my favorites. When I was a junior associate at a major law firm I came across an article about one of our clients who owns multiple car dealerships. It was a lovely write-up about his business and legacy. My partner, who served the businessman, was a great relationship guy, but to be honest, he didn’t read Black Enterprise. I sent him the article. He sent it along to the client with a congratulatory note. The partner later came by my office to thank me and in short order he began staffing me on deals with not only that client, but many of his other high profile clients. It was the first time that I saw the true value that thoughtfulness can add to one’s business and career. The partner felt that I understood his business and his client felt the same about the partner. In the words of Charlie Sheen, “winning!”
If you think it doesn’t come naturally for you to think of clients as you go about your day, I challenge you with this: In the past week have you shared an article, meme, or other social media with someone in your social circle because you were reminded of him or her? See, you already do it AND without any extra mental effort on your part. The same is true with thoughtfulness in business. Try it for yourself. You’ll be amazed at how many times while reading an article or seeing something on TV a client will cross your mind because you listened to and heard her. Take a moment to take action on that thought, and watch what happens for your business.
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Michelle Y. Talbert, Esq. is a DC-based, NY-bred relationship strategist and social media content producer. She produces and co-hosts the popular weekly podcast “They Met Online…,” in addition to writing about successful relationship strategies in business and in love. She’s a passionate non-techie startup founder and was a member of the 2014 Lean Startup DC contest winning team. Connect with her on Twitter @MichelleTalbert and LinkedIn.