Every February, we are greeted with hearts, flowers, and reminders to show those we care about how much we love them on Valentine’s Day. But what about our clients, colleagues, and that ever-important network of contacts we’re growing? Can we show them some love too?
We’ve been taught to send a “thank you” note to show appreciation after a meeting, referral, or after receiving an offering or gift. We’ve learned to stay in touch with clients (thanks to reminder software on our iPads, Outlook, and calendar programs). And we know not to arrive empty-handed to a social event (our mothers taught us well). But, isn’t there more we can do to show appreciation to our network who gives us so much?
I often write about the power of building an “Intentional Network” in order to promote, enhance, and advance your personal brand. When business is good, life is easy, and we are happy, it is often easy to remember to show appreciation and gratitude. When times are stressful, however, sometimes we forget to thank those contacts, information sources, cheerleaders, and clients who go above-and-beyond to sustain us, show us tolerance and loyalty, and refer others to us.
Top 10 Ways to Show Your Network Some Love:
- Drop a handwritten note to someone you know for no specific reason! It is so exciting to get a note – interrupting your busy day – with just a brief message of appreciation or offering an idea or suggestion. Maybe your colleague mentioned an important event coming up (son’s wedding?). Perhaps they mentioned putting a parent into a nursing home. Maybe you know their anniversary is approaching for when they joined the company. A handwritten note of acknowledgement speaks volumes about your attention to detail and appreciation for the relationship.
- Read a good book lately? Share the book with a client and save them going to the store and searching for it. What a nice surprise! One of my clients does this often – he particularly seeks out “used” books to send, because he believes that when a book has been previously enjoyed, it brings that first person’s experience to the content.
- Invite your contact to join you at an important event. Your goal is not just to fill a seat at a corporate table but let your contact know why the event/cause/subject is personal and meaningful to you.
- Provide a personalized referral. Make the introduction yourself and show that you understand their business and their brand. You might even offer to host the meeting so the two new contacts can get to know each other with you as the facilitator.
- Host a client appreciation event and offer a program of value. We held such an event for LIDA360 clients, and the response was overwhelming – clients and guests networked, socialized, and listened to a program on brand development and stress management. The best comment received afterwards was: “This was so consistent with YOUR brand, Lida!”
- Pick up the phone and “check in.” Or, just say “hi.” Even if your current project is going fine or there is no current project with that client, calling to check in is much more personal than an email. While you’re on the phone, remind them you’re just a phone call away if they need anything.
- Recognize your contact’s important company milestones – founding dates, IPO dates, relocation or expansion dates, etc. Send a basket or gift to the staff to acknowledge their collective hard work to achieve the milestone. This is above and beyond necessary but leaves an indelible impression with the staff, as well as your client!
- Host a lunch-and-learn event at your client’s office and bring in an expert to offer a program of value. You might offer a leadership development program, brand empowerment workshop, or communication training for your client’s staff. Let them know you are vested in their success.
- Get creative! For the 5-year anniversary of LIDA360, I offered to do five “no cost” personal branding programs to the first companies that responded. This was a way of helping advance the message, sure, but more-so it was consistent with my desire to celebrate all the wonderful clients, contacts, and friends who helped my company grow.
- Pay it forward. Make a donation in your client’s name to a cause you feel passionate about (or one you know they feel passionate about). This is a great way to connect clients to non-profits, and it shows your charitable side and connection to the community.
However you celebrate love this month, consider giving some appreciation and acknowledgement to the network that helps you grow, learn, and thrive!