We all want to spread a little love on Valentine’s Day and I’m no exception. All this talk of love got me thinking about those aspects of love that we are told to focus on by the relationship experts, to ensure our relationship remains strong and I wondered; do the same principles apply to business and our work life? And I think they do. So below are three important areas to focus on if you want your business contacts to feel appreciated and loved!
Think back to the last person you met, either through business or socially, who really impressed you and left a positive impression. How did that happen? Chances are that person was a skilled listener and without realising it, they were using this skill to have a meaningful conversation with you, to find out more about you, to understand your point of view. Consequently you felt that they were genuinely interested and that a connection had been made. And go on, admit it, you thought, ‘hey! They liked me!’
The truth is this type of encounter is quite rare. Because most people don’t listen properly. Too caught up in what they think, they are giving scant attention to the point of view of the other person. And as for all that valuable non verbal communication, posture, facial expressions, eye contact, forget it. They are trapped in thinking about how to impress that person, or prove them wrong, or speak their own opinion. We’ve all done it.
So, how to ensure more successful conversations that will leave people feeling really appreciated by and impressed with you?
Listen to every word they say, not just the surface of it. Don’t interrupt, but do keep the conversation flowing with open questions. Use eye contact, nods and smiles to give them the reassurance that you are interested in what they’re saying. Pay attention to their body language, learn to read and take cues from their facial expression, posture and gestures.
Ok, don’t get excited! I am most definitely NOT talking about inappropriate touching here, which is NEVER good. However, hand shakes, a light, friendly touch to an arm, shoulder etc, especially with someone that you already know reasonably well, will subconsciously break down barriers and make you seem more open and friendly.
A firm handshake accompanied by eye contact and a smile can work wonders with a new contact – so many of us (especially men!) hold a hand too firmly, or in some cases not firmly enough (limp handshake anyone? No thanks!), or fail to look the person in the eye at the same time. Don’t hold the person’s hand forever, but don’t let go too quickly either! A good handshake with a new contact or a light, friendly touch with an existing one helps to make a connection.
Please judge this carefully; if you’re using your instincts well, you will know that some people will not appreciate any physical contact and obviously if you deal with non UK businesses there are cultural differences to be considered.
It truly is so much better to give than receive. For those who eye this with suspicion thinking ‘yeah well people say that BUT…’ let me explain. As well as being good for your soul and general happiness (there really have been studies that have proved givers are happier and healthier than receivers) giving without focusing on receiving is good for building relationships and therefore good for business.
Do you rely on referrals from contacts and clients to win new business? Many of us do. So how do you go about thanking those people who send valuable contacts and prospects your way? What do you do to make them feel you truly appreciate the effort they’ve made and the trust they have placed in you with their recommendation to someone in their network? Do you send a hand written card or note, the occasional thoughtful gift, flowers? Or do you say ‘Hey thanks’ at the time and then… nothing?
Similarly, what do you give to your contacts, clients and colleagues above and beyond what is really expected of you? Do you go the extra mile? Do you remember how someone takes their coffee? Make a note of their birthday? Take time to email them an article you think they’d be interested in? Join up the dots and introduce them to someone you know it would be beneficial for them to know?
There are lots of other ways you can show your appreciation and genuine interest in those people you do business with. And by focusing on this it’s possible to significantly increase your influence and your ability to attract and win new business. Often referred to as the nurture cycle, we work on this aspect of business development and marketing with our clients to help them attract and keep the kind of business and clients that they want. How do we do that? Well why not give us a call, come over for a coffee or tea and we will show you how ! Call 0191 447 5376 or email firstname.lastname@example.org