Friends are clients and clients are friends : is it sustainable?
In the modern digital age, it's much simplier to be friends with your clients, particularly if you have hundreds of thousands of them at your fingertips.
They connect with you on social media; facebook, twitter, linkedin, pinterest, myspace - you name it, they are "friends" with you. Each day, I log onto my twitter account and I talk to people I know and some that I don't. The one's that I don't, are new friends. People I am getting to know via twitter. They have shared a common interest or have an opinion on something that I have written that interwines us together. Instantly, we feel like we "get" each other or perhaps that "we don't". Either way, we form a connection and depending on how we interact and communicate we will either become "friends" or fade away into the twittersphere.
There is no sure fast way to become friends other than to keep everything genuine. If you are genuine, then people get to know you and if they connect, they really connect. Sometimes sharing a little piece of you personally will help bring a stronger relationship with your "friends" than if you just push out sales and marketing content. I always try to do a bit of both and share as many experiences as possible to connect with clients and prospects on social media and that works particularly well for the business I am in because they feel like they "know me" without ever physically meeting.
Yesterday, I caught up with a client for a glass of wine and to discuss their new website and marketing campaign.
It was a Sunday afternoon, and after running 10 minutes late, I was met with a smiling face. Here we have a client, who is a wonderful person, super smart and insightful, who is happy to share a glass of wine with me on a Sunday afternoon and talk about the activities of the week ahead.
Taking the meeting out of the office and into a Sunday can be quite powerful for many reasons. The first is from both parts, it says to me that we are willing to enjoy a casual conversation mixed with business in our own time - not in work time.
We got through the business side of things and then just "chewed the fat". The conversation was fascinating and gave me insights to him as a person and no doubt the same for him to me.
We walked away more connected as friends than had we just had another meeting Monday to Friday in the office.
Now this meeting was unusual because of travel schedules and deadlines requiring us to meet outside the normal hours, but it is a great example how offline meetings can create a more meaningful client/supplier relationship.
How we got the client in the first place was through social media. If I recall, it was through Linkedin or Twitter. So the relationship started there and now I can safely say, that this client is a friend - not just a connection or a client.
In a business to business environment it is particularly important to create a meaningful relationship with your client or prospect. It may take more time to sustain, but ultimately it will assist in building a better business and more people that champion your brand.