Monday, May 18, 2009

Trusted Adviser — Using Social Media as A Relationship Building Tool

At Experient I am responsible for building and maintaining the relationship between our company and its customers.  Ultimately my job is to understand my clients’ business challenges and collaborate with them to discover the most viable business solutions.  Essentially I become their compass, leading them on the right path.

compassWith the arrival of Web 2.0 applications into the marketplace there is a whole new set of business communication tools available to assist people in fulfilling their adviser role with customers.  Social media is all about relationship building, connection, collaboration and building a sense of community.  This fits perfectly into a consultant’s business model.

To succeed in the consulting world begins with gaining credibility and earning a client’s trust.  You must demonstrate you have their best interests in mind and are willing to do what it takes to help them succeed.  Here are (8) steps to earning your stripes as a “trusted adviser:”

  • Frequent Communications — is essential to relationship building.  Find reasons to communicate with your client.  Whether it is meeting at an industry event, sharing a relevant news tidbit, or acknowledging a special day (birthday, anniversary) solid touches are very important.  Facebook has a great reminder system for birthdays
  • Thought Leadership — If you write a new blog article, or speak at an industry event make sure your client is aware of this.  Send them a personal invitation on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter asking them to check out your work.  They will appreciate it, and it adds value to the relationship.
  • Shared Information — In the social media world all kinds of information and resources are floating around.  If you come across a news article, picture, or video clip that is relevant to a particular customer, share it with them.  That tidbit could be business or personally focused.  Both are important, as you are acknowledging through your actions you are paying attention to them.  In particular Twitter is a wonderful platform to share information.  If your client does not have a Twitter account invite them to do so and then send them a “Twitter for Beginners” article to help get them started.
  • Do the Research — Visit your client’s website, read their trade publications and learn their products/services.  Understand their organizational structure and business dynamics.  This will equip you with the knowledge base to initiate an intelligent conversation with them.  LinkedIn is a great resource for learning about an organization, or the individuals in it.
  • Exercise Integrity & Honesty — You need to “walk the talk!!”  If you make a commitment to do something for your client then follow through and deliver.  If for some reason a challenge occurs then be upfront about it … they will appreciate the candor!
  • Transparency — Don’t be afraid to be the person you are!  That makes you real and provides a basis for bonding and finding commonality.  Facebook is a wonderful platform for sharing tidbits of who you are to business colleagues and customers, as well as friends of course.
  • Do the Right Thing — As much as you would like to be everything to everyone, it is not always possible.   It is always best to take the “high road” and recommend an outside solution to your customer than to force feed your own, when it isn’t the best one.  In the long run the pain of that missed opportunity will be overshadowed by the good will and credibility you will gain.

I am sure I have not covered everything in this article but I hope it will be a good resource for you as you build business relationships in the future.  I look forward to your feedback!

Have a great day!

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