This morning I had an experience which made me stop and think about how important taking action is. I had just completed a phone call with a client when I heard a loud thud against my window. A small bird had flown full-force into the window and knocked the life clear out of himself. My instinct was to run out and help him, but by the time I got there, it was already too late.
This experience got me thinking about how fleeting life is. Not in a big existential way, but rather in small, more immediate way. I found myself contemplating how important it is to act upon things because you simply may not get the opportunity to do so later on. You may be asking, how is this related to business relationships? Regularly taking action in relationships has everything to do with my bird story.
Client relationships are all about the action you take over the long-haul. By actively maintaining personal and business relationships, you build in opportunities for more business over time. If you lapse on your contact, you make room for someone else to fill the need in your absence, so that when you finally do reach out, you have lost the loyalty of the client.
This little bird was flying with great purpose this morning, but miscalculated the path he took, ending his flight path permanently. By not taking care of your relationships, you risk underestimating your clients needs and level of loyalty, ultimately reaching the same demise– no future relationship with that client. So, my conclusions… keep regular contact with your clients, understand their needs and keep your eyes on the clear path to future business.
I had an eye opening experience the other day. I was charged with writing a piece on a topic I knew nothing about. I felt unsure as to the best approach to learning as much as I could in a short amount of time. So, the first thing I did was call a colleague and friend of mine, John Cunningham. An experienced and talented writer, I knew he would be able to direct me. I had no idea at the time that the words of wisdom he provided would have so much impact. What was the advice? Ask one simple, 2-part question. What was the question? Here it is:
“What would you like to do and how can I help?”
I didn’t doubt John– he is one of the best writers I know. I had nothing to lose, right? So, I opened the interview with just those words. And what happened?
The floodgates opened.
We proceeded to have an hour-long conversation about how this person got to where they were today and then he started to ponder how I would help him with the next steps. This experience was transforming for me. John wasn’t only right about the question, he was also dead-on with something else– he speculated that many people have never answered this question out loud and that this was a helpful process for the interviewee as well. I found just that! The person actually verbalized “I have never really given this as much thought and connected so many dots before just now.”
Amazing. I was effervescent. I couldn’t believe the experience! I had what I needed to get started on writing and my client had worked through a mental roadmap of their experiences. All I could do was call my friend John and thank him.
I urge anyone to try this 2-part question with someone. It doesn’t have to be an interview. It can be used with your clients– let them work out the pathway. Sit back, actively listen and then help then devise the next steps where you can help. It will work. I promise!
Winter in New England has been a test of patience this year. Kids haven’t had an uninterrupted week of school since before Thanksgiving, ice build-up threatens the sturdiest of roofs, snow banks are upwards of 10 feet high in spots. In can certainly get you down if you let it.
Business development can feel like a long, hard winter sometimes. Even the best planned efforts are disjointed because of other distractions, new business may feel like it is buried under layers of competitors and the means to reach new business may seem unsurmountable.
Spring always comes regardless of what winter throws our way. It is the same with your marketing and business development efforts. Business will come if you are persistant at building relationships over time. You will see the rewards when you consistently get out and reach people in meaningful ways. Don’t give in to the excuses that cover your pathway– shovel them aside and keep moving forward.