How To Maintain Real Relationships From Behind a Screen
Updated: Mar 12, 2018
In today’s day and age, most of our lives are spent behind a screen. This naturally corresponds to our ever evolving work life; it’s near impossible to work a job, let alone run a business, without using some type of electronic device. So, how do we not get lost behind the screens and lose the sense of actually talking to a person? Here are some of our tips to help maintain as much of a real life relationship with people through screens as possible.
1: Respond to e-mails and text messages as soon as possible
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often people don’t check their e-mails regularly and lose clients/relationships over a lack of response. People like to feel valued, so make them a priority. Even if you do not have a response for them right away, shoot them a text or e-mail back letting them know that you see their questions/concerns and will get back to them as soon as you know more, or you’ll keep them updated as the details unfold. When people feel like they’re a priority in your life they’re more likely to give you more time to come back with the full answer. When you show respect for their time, they’ll show you respect right back.
Challenge: Set the standard. Commit to always responding to people’s emails within 24 hours and see how much of a difference this will make in their patience and attitude towards you and your business. If you want to take it one step further, turn on your read receipts and watch it keep you accountable that when you read their text message, you should respond right away, because they’ll know that you’ve seen it.
2: Be professional, but personal
One the worst things to do, especially when interacting with or looking for new clients, is to send them a message that looks like you just simply copy pasted it and sent it out to everyone. Take the time to send them a personal message to demonstrate you value their time and the relationship you are building. You don't have to spill your personal life, but you also don't have to come across as a robot. Find the happy medium, and read the message out loud to see how it comes across. After sending the initial message, it never hurts to observe how they respond to you. If they come back with a very professional message continue with that, but if they add some emojis, exclamation marks, etc. it doesn’t hurt to echo that sentiment. In the beginning it never hurts to lean more to the professional side, you can always tone it down a bit later on as the relationship grows.
Challenge: Find a friend/colleague that can be honest with you and get their opinion on what you’re intending to send your client – at least the first few times. What could be normal to you, could come across pushy or annoying to others. A second opinion never hurts!
3: Get to know your clients
Now that all of our lives are constantly exposed online, we have all have done some social media stalking at some point in time. "Stalking" or "creeping" might not be the best definition, but it doesn’t hurt to get to know your clients on a more personal level, especially if you plan on working with them for any long period of time. Find a way to get to know their likes, dislikes, if they have a family, if they like sports or music. Take the time to check them out on professional networks like LinkedIn, social platforms like Twitter, and even Google. People like to feel that you actually care and are taking an interest in them, they’ll be more likely to want to use your services in the future if they feel like they’ve built a relationship with you, so find a way to casually get to know them, ask about their week, and see where it goes from there.
Challenge: When adding a new contact in your phone, take some time as you get to know this person to write down a few things that you learn about them in the notes section of their contact information. Make a point to comment on last night’s hockey game, or ask about a recent concert they’ve been talking about. If they have kids, people love bragging about their kids, so ask about them and get interested. It may seem forced to you at first, but as your relationship grows you’ll become genuinely interested in how your client’s daughter’s cheer completion went and if she beat out last year’s nationals winners.
4: Make time for face time.
As much as we all use our screen these days to do just about everything, it’s still crucial to book face to face time. Everyone’s schedules are busy, but making time to meet over coffee, lunch or even drinks (depending on the type of meeting it is) can make all the difference. People appreciate being able to put a face to a name, and making an effort to do so can greatly increase your chance of obtaining and maintaining clients throughout your career. If you are working with clients that do not live close to you, set up a time to Facetime or Skype them. The fact that you’re willing to set aside undivided time for someone will mean a lot to them, and boost their confidence in you.
Challenge: Make a point to meet with or plan face to face screen time with each of your clients, at least once, to show that they are a priority to you, and see your business flourish! It can be a bit nerve-wracking at first, but the more you do it, the more natural it will become.
We hope these tips have got you thinking about different ways that you can create a more personal relationship with your current and future clients. With how much we all use electronic devices, there are many ways that we can easily use them to communicate more effectively.
How do you maintain real relationships from behind a screen?