It’s so easy to be forgotten today when we are not seeing each other in person on a regular basis. That means the onus is on you to maintain relationships with your professional network with the tools you have – and right now that’s virtually.
The most compelling reason to contact someone in your professional network is to provide them with something useful, and trust me, people really want to hear from others especially during this very isolating time of the pandemic.
While we must physically distance ourselves from others, we certainly should not be socially distancing ourselves. In fact, we should be doing the exact opposite.
If you’ve been meaning to reach out to someone with whom you’ve lost touch, write an article/blog post or prepare an (online) seminar, now’s the time to do it. And if you don’t think you have the time for it, make the time. There is nothing more important right now besides providing stellar client service than to focus on branding and marketing yourself in a crowded market filled with even more challenges thanks to the pandemic.
Your goal is to keep in touch with your professional network and to provide information of value to them that enables you to showcase your expertise without being boastful or salesy.
If you do this right, you’ll never have to sell anything or use an elevator pitch. Very often an individual is retained due to word-of-mouth and referrals. And repeat business is given based on your past performance and likability. Lay the groundwork today for future success.
You may already feel your firm is doing everything it can to acquire new clients. But what strategies have you put in place to retain existing clients, and how are you interacting and communicating with them? After all, it’s far easier and less costly to keep an existing client than to bring on a new one. When your clients feel that you value their business, their loyalty and brand preference grow. And when they benefit from valuable advice, client service and responsiveness, they could refer their friends and colleagues to you, and become your loyal brand ambassadors.
A timely thought leadership piece covering a topic that addresses issues top of mind for your clients can be gold at a time like this, and lead to the opening of doors and opportunities. Make sure to send it via individual email to select contacts with a personal note and send a regular email newsletter to your contacts/clients. This is the best way to reach your clients and potential clients because it goes directly to their email inboxes.
You could also write a short email note just checking in on your clients/referrals/other VIPs to see how they are navigating working from home and managing the demands of family life. This is the time to build relationships that go beyond the perfunctory “how was your weekend” – especially when someone’s kid or dog is appearing in a Zoom and we are all revealing much more our personal lives. A short note is more than enough to let people know you care and to keep you top of mind with them.
Of course don’t forget about using LinkedIn (and other social media platforms that work for your client development) to your advantage. It’s not enough to have a strong profile or a lot of connections – you must use the platform to share posts in order to maximize the power of LinkedIn.
Social media success can be achieved by being active and liking, sharing and commenting on posts and also creating posts of your own – these actions will help to keep you top of mind, allow you to showcase your expertise without being boastful and enable you to provide value to your contacts.
Here are a few more ideas for how to stay top of mind with your contacts in a meaningful way:
- Build online rapport and relationships by following people you admire on LinkedIn with their content and status updates. Supporting others helps you build a strong network and stronger relationships.
- Since you are selling knowledge and expertise, take the time to build compelling online content that provides prospects with valuable information on how to solve their most pressing problems possibly caused by the crisis, and then make that content available across online channels and throughout the digital ecosystem. This is your chance to build your brand, strengthen relationships, create trust and grow demand for your services.
- If you are on a group Zoom happy hour or networking event, note the participant list so you can connect with each person afterwards on LinkedIn.
- Groups are a great way to expand your network on LinkedIn. They have gained traction since the pandemic and give you access to many other business professionals who are interested in the same topics as you.
- The Advanced Search tool on LinkedIn is another great way to strategically expand your network. Use LinkedIn filters to search by keyword, for example job title, location, company, school. Premium LinkedIn accounts enable you to conduct more searches, with wider search parameters and saved searches; however, you still can get some of these benefits with a free LinkedIn account.
- Share posts written by others (prospects, colleagues, your company, your clients, etc.) or create a post based on something you wrote or an article you found that was interesting in a trusted news source (such as the Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Forbes, Fortune, a trade publication – you get the gist). Staying top of mind is the key to success on LinkedIn.
- Like and comment on LinkedIn posts that you think are valuable and share the posts with your connections and in your groups.
- Regularly share content that is valuable to your connections on social media with brief introductory text on why they should read it. Highlight a few key points in your synopsis, use the @ sign to mention anyone in the post and always use an eye-catching visual and the right hashtags to accompany your post. Providing status updates on a regular basis keeps you visible to your network.
- Be generous by liking and sharing others’ posts and congratulate others on their successes, especially your VIP connections. While they may not be ready to hire you at this moment, they will likely be in that position in the future. When they reach that point, you will be top of mind.
- Make it easy for clients and prospects to connect with you by including your updated contact information on all of your social profiles and making it visible to everyone not just your connections. Also, if you list your work phone, make sure that it is being forwarded to your cell during the pandemic.
Make sure your clients and prospects don’t forget about you – especially now when we can’t get together in person for the foreseeable future – with information that is useful, consistent and by being thoughtful and helpful.