Professional relationships vary greatly in different organizations and levels of management. Some workplaces encourage making friends with coworkers and clients while others discourage it. However, building relationships in the workplace can help you create a more welcoming work environment, especially during COVID-19.
How can you approach relationship-building in the workplace during COVID-19? We asked eight thought leaders to give advice on how to interact with coworkers and clients to develop strong relationships through tough times.
Treat Coworkers as Clients
Employees need to deploy some of the same client relationship-building tactics on their coworkers. Typically we cut the small talk when talking with a colleague and get straight to business. But why? If we ask prospective clients about their kids, or about their weekend, why wouldn’t we do that with remote coworkers who we need to maintain working relationships with? By prioritizing small talk, we prioritize the person. When a person is a priority, that paves the way for a strong relationship to take place. —Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
Developing good relationships with prospective or current clients ultimately comes down to delivering value. To consistently deliver value, you need to understand your prospect’s pain points, how to solve them and, ultimately, you need to deliver great service. If you can do that well, then your relationships will flourish regardless of the lack of in-person interactions.–Jonathan Pipek, Product Marketing Manager
Use Preferred Forms of Communication
Whether you’re in a remote-only environment or not, one of the best tools for developing relationships with people is to cater to their preferred form of communication. Do they prefer a video call, a voice call, text message, email, or even Facebook Messenger? Use any and all forms of communications to deepen the relationship on their terms. Make it so easy and seamless that the ability to not meet in person is no longer an issue at all. This means having all these communication tools working well and implemented so it’s easy for prospects to opt-in for the tool that works best for them.–Mike Jones, Resound
In a COVID-19 world, I prefer to kick it back to old school: handwritten cards. After that video meeting with a prospective client, mail out a thank-you card. Getting a little something in the mail is a mood booster for them and a brand booster for you. It shows that you value a world outside of video calls and that you enjoy spending extra time on your client relationship.–Hana Ruzsa Alanis, Graphic Designer & Marketing Specialist
Most people think of this format as another type of social media, but podcasts can help you build an audience. If you focus on client development, then you’ll have success much more quickly. For example, early in my career, I interviewed successful bloggers and authors. These were 60-minute video calls, which turned out to be the perfect way to start building a relationship with someone. After, you can find other ways to provide value like sharing out the content or linking to them, and eventually ask if they would like to be a client.–Michael Alexis, TeamBuilding
Show Genuine Interest
Think about how you can make life a little easier for your clients right now. Drop off a basket of household basics, show genuine interest in their lives and businesses. Make a note to follow up with them if they’re struggling. Not to sell anything, but to be of service and make a real connection.–Chryssa Rich, Primary Health Medical Group
Don’t Limit Yourself to One Method
Take advantage of multiple methods of communication. I like to utilize video chats and text chats as much as possible because the response is more personal and immediate. Save email for high-level information and encourage your coworkers to use chat platforms for daily discussions or questions that can be answered in a few sentences.–Anna Caldwell, Beyond Finance
Take Advantage of LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a valuable tool for networking. You can leverage it to keep up with current clients, connect with new prospects, build up your profile by offering advice in key areas, and generally track engagements you’d otherwise have in-person. Don’t spam your connections but share updates that will add value for your network. Even if you typically email or call your prospects, take a look at their LinkedIn for an icebreaker you can use to have a more natural conversation—like you would face to face.–Colton DeVos, Resolute TS
This article has been provided by Markitors, a digital marketing company located in Arizona.