By now, doing things virtually has become a way of life. For event planners, this often means working with clients that you rarely or never see in person. While things are slowly starting to return to “normal,” many people are still working from home and attending events virtually. Living life behind the laptop is now commonplace.
In the competitive world of event planning, it’s vital to cultivate solid client relationships – but how do you do this in a virtual environment? From improving your communications to taking steps to build trust, it’s essential to nurture your connections continually. Here are a few simple ideas that you can implement right away.
1. Respect Communication Preferences
When it comes to nurturing relationships, communication is key. However, one size does not fit all. Before you reach out, take the time to learn how they prefer to communicate. While phone calls and emails may be standard practice, many people prefer to receive text messages or direct messages through social media.
Communicating in the virtual world has its own set of challenges. By leaving face-to-face interactions and phone calls behind, direct messaging can easily be taken out of context. This is why it is essential to approach your client with clear and transparent goals in mind, allowing little room for confusion or misinterpretation. Positioning ourselves in an assertive, authentic, and concise manner will likely boost response rates.
When you choose the method that makes your client the most comfortable, you’re showing that you respect their needs. Doing so also increases the chances that you’ll receive a positive response.
2. Find Valuable Reasons to Reach Out
Time crunches and constraints are standard now, so getting your clients’ attention can be challenging. When you reach out, make it a point to provide materials that demonstrate true value. Whether it’s a quick check-in with an update on a project or a creative new idea, make sure they know that your communication will be worth their time.
Make an effort to customize each message. It may seem like a time-saver to send out a bulk check-in email, but your clients will notice. Instead, craft your message so it’s entirely relevant for the client you’re reaching out to. Also, make sure your relationship-building communications don’t overlap with sales calls. It’s important to occasionally let clients know you’re thinking about them without trying to make a sale.
3. Get Personal
To develop a real relationship with your clients, you’ll need to remain open and welcoming. This means making time for personal chatting, even when you’re busy. Remember that clients want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. Taking a minute to ask about their personal life will make you likable and will help build a firm relationship between the customer and seller. This is even more important in the virtual world, where many people are craving personal interaction. These small conversations will have long-lasting effects with potential to enhance productivity and customer retention.
4. Turn on the Camera
While you may not feel entirely comfortable seeing yourself on the screen, you’re doing yourself a disservice by holding meetings in “audio-only” mode. When your clients can see your smiling face, your home office, and your dog lying in the background, they’ll automatically feel more connected to you. So, make sure you clean up your office, run a brush through your hair, and turn that camera on.
5. Pay Attention to Body Language
Using video in your conference calls also gives you another advantage. When you can see the person you’re talking to, you’ll be able to pick up on the signals they’re subconsciously sending to you. If you’re 15-minutes into a call and you see the person constantly checking their phone or reading email on the second screen, you’ve lost them.
This is the time to either switch tactics and try to get them re-engaged or wrap up the call and suggest a follow-up in a few days. Remember that clients often aren’t intentionally trying to be rude, but they may be under pressure or distracted by something else going on in their life. Remain flexible and be willing to make adjustments based on their needs.
Dr. Nick Morgan, the author of “14 tips for holding engaging video calls” offers specific examples and insight on how to keep energy and morale high during video calls in the workplace . Providing the person you’re talking to with an agenda for the meeting will help retain engagement throughout the call. Another helpful way to keep the meeting upbeat and conversational is to hold brainstorming and icebreaker sessions. Use these helpful tactics in your next conference call of 30 minutes or more.
6. Show Your Appreciation
One of the best ways to create a connection with your clients is to show them your appreciation. You can do this by periodically sending small gifts or branded promotional items. This simple gesture shows your clients that you’re there for them and that you value their business. This can lead to longer-term, more fulfilling relationships.
7. Take Notes and Follow Up
In the virtual world, it’s easy to jump from one meeting to the next with little follow-through. There’s a good chance that your client will forget about you and your discussion within a few minutes of hanging up.
You’ll show that you’re engaged and make things easier for your clients by taking detailed notes, sending meeting recaps, and helping to keep everyone involved accountable. Using an abstract and committee management tool to keep all your planning materials in one place will also keep things organized, adding even more value to your client relationship.
8. Offer Total Transparency
When you’re communicating from behind a screen, it’s important to build trust. To do this, adopt the practice of being an open book. If an issue comes up while you’re planning an event, never try to hide it. Instead, be upfront about it. Explain what’s going on while also showing that you’re in control by describing exactly how you plan to solve the problem.
Even when everything is going smoothly, you’ll want to communicate openly. Tell your clients about your personal mission and how it can help them grow their business. Be transparent about your goals and always look for ways to build credibility.
Elevate Your Client Experience
Keeping your clients and leads engaged is critical for those who want to compete in this ever changing landscape. To do this, it’s essential to elevate every aspect of the client experience. Having the right tools in place will help you with everything from communication and management to lead development and follow-up.eShow offers an all-in-one event management system to help take your in-person, virtual, and hybrid events to the next level. Our experts will help design a customized solution to meet your needs and show you exactly how to use our system to cultivate and strengthen your client relationships. Contact us today to learn more and schedule a personalized demo.