The Dos and Don’ts When Socializing with Clients
In plenty of business situations these days, socializing isn’t just acceptable it’s often instrumental in driving business. With the popularization of social media as a marketing platform, reaching and socializing with clients is now faster and easier than ever. That said, socializing only works if it’s effectively implemented. When it’s done wrong, the consequences aren’t just limited to a missed opportunity to take full advantage of a powerful marketing tool. Poorly socializing with clients is actually a quick way to lose business.
Don’t Stick too Much to the Script
Today’s consumer is incredibly discerning and observant. They can spot disingenuous conversation a mile away. Whether you’re drumming up clients at a conference, developing corporate relationships over a business lunch, or engaging with your audience over social media, sticking too much to soundbites and over-rehearsed/manufactured language can make you seem unapproachable. On the other hand, making a genuine acquaintance has incredible networking and marketing potential. Remember that you are a regular person talking to another regular person. This may seem obvious, but sometimes it is easy to forget when the conversation takes place within the context of a business lunch or through the filter of a computer screen. So, think about what makes a good conversation for you. Most people aren’t interested in being continuously pitched to. No one likes to sit and listen to a monologue when they thought they were there for a conversation. Think about how frustrating it is when you have a question for customer support and all you get by way of an answer is a boilerplate response that doesn’t even help you to fix your problem. This doesn’t mean you should spend the whole time avoiding talking about business. That’s why you’re there after all. Just don’t be afraid to ask questions, talk lightly about yourself, and try to avoid giving canned responses to any questions or concerns that are brought up for you to answer.
Do Keep Yourself in Check
Although you don’t want to always stick to the script, that doesn’t mean anything goes. You always need to be aware that you’re not just speaking for yourself, you’re also acting as a representative of your business. As mentioned, you don’t want to come off as robotic and disingenuous, but you do still need to be aware that even though you’re socializing, you’re doing so within a business setting. You’ll need to be careful about things like drinking, for example. Moderation is key. Your level of responsibility reflects on you but also on how you and your company do business. Humor is another thing to reign in a little. If you’re at a conference, you won’t only be judged by the jokes you tell, but also by the ones you laugh at. And, if the topics are at all risque, you shouldn’t be doing either. You’ll need to keep topics of conversation and levity appropriate for the context of the conversation.
Don’t Pass on Opportunities to Get Creative
With social media engagement and even in-person socializing becoming more and more formulaic, something that has become more and more common is that people are passing on opportunities to get creative while socializing with clients. It’s easy to fall into a routine of social engagement and socializing and even, for example, the ways in which you avoid sticking to the script can eventually become a de facto script of their own. Given the multitude of opportunities for creativity available to businesses these days, passing on the more creative opportunities is only going to set you further back from those who don’t. For example, don’t be afraid to try new mediums of engagement. With social distancing in place, it’s easy to fall into a rut of relying completely on text-based channels, but there are also plenty of other ways to reach your audience and restore some of that personal touch that fell to the wayside with social distancing. Utilizing images, video, and humor is a great way to drive engagement. These days, the younger generations are moving away from Facebook and into new social media spaces like Tik-Tok. If you’re not there to meet them because you’re stuck in your routine, you’re going to miss out on a lot of potential customers.
Do Interactively Engage with Clients
Whether this is in person or, more likely these days, over social media, interactively engaging with clients is crucial in generating engagement in return. It’s no longer enough to merely open up the conversation by asking your customers what they think about X and if they’d like to see more of Y. These days you have to be active with your client engagement. You have to participate in the conversation. Don’t be afraid to respond to customers on Instagram, retweet them on Twitter, or be proactive with customer service. One example of an effective way to interactively engage with clients is by responding to customer reviews. People are much more likely to be influenced by customer reviews than they are by your direct attempts at advertising. If past customers bring up concerns that go unaddressed, it’s likely to drive off potential future customers. On the other hand, when those concerns are directly addressed by you, potential customers are far more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt; perhaps this negative experience was an outlier, or else the problem that resulted in the concern has since been solved. Interactivity is key in other ways as well. Whether we’re talking about an in-person retail store or social media engagement, or anything in between, making yourself and your employees appear readily approachable can mean the difference between making a sale and losing it. If customers feel like they might be troubling you to ask a question about a product or service, odds are they’re going to leave without buying. On the other hand, if you can adequately answer all of their questions and address all of their concerns, you’re likely to make the sale. This can only happen, however, if your clients feel like your business and its employees are approachable. If you’re seen not just actively, but interactively engaging with clients both online and throughout your web presence, clients will feel comfortable coming to you with their questions.