Consultants are perpetually encouraged to maintain a facade of permanent work-mode. However, often we can gain our most valuable connections with clients when the walls come down a little, we stay just a few minutes after the lunch meeting ended and suddenly our client-consultant relationship is that much closer. A tight relationship benefits both parties, lets look at scenarios where you can take look to develop that kind of bond.
Since time immemorial, food and drink have been a staple of deep, meaningful connections. When we gather around food, the walls automatically drop a little. Now, the opportunity that most people miss is the extra fifteen minutes, the extra drink that brings the relationship from purely business to a bit more friendly allows for a new level honesty and communication that any business relationship will benefit from.
Showing up a few minutes early to a meeting or sticking around a few minutes after will give you the chance to exchange a bit with your client. Don’t be afraid to take these opportunities. They benefit the long term relationship so long as you aren’t overstaying your welcome. If you can gauge the availability, a pleasant conversation with your client after a meeting certainly cannot hurt.
Rather than just handing your business card out at a conference or networking event, take the time to actually engage a new client or a fellow consultant. Take steps to manicure your relationship-building abilities and at these large events you’ll find your network expands exponentially. One name leads to another, my friends.
The fact of the matter is that we don’t always judge people on their technical skills. Increasing your reputation will in large part come from your ability to be a relatable, well liked individual who also gets their work done. We are social creatures and approve of people who socialize well. Play the all-work-no-play card and you’re not as likely to develop an extensive network of references.