Relationship Breakthroughs (No. 3): Help them Personally

How do you get a breakthrough in a relationship? How do you take it to the next level? There are a number of actions that will help you do this. Over the next 15 blog entries or so, I am highlighting these one by one. Some are simple; some are very challenging. All help you move in the right direction.

Number (3): Help them Personally

Notwithstanding all the terrific things you may do to help your client’s organization (reduce costs, solve a complex legal matter, successfully complete an acquisition, etc.), clients often most remember you for how you helped them personally.

When I lived in Italy and ran Gemini Consulting’s operations there, I remember spending nearly a year calling on a very important executive who ran a large company. Nothing ever happened–he never bought anything from us–and I began getting frustrated. One day, I noticed he looked very worried. When I asked him what was on his mind, he said, “Oh, Dr. Sobel, I’m very concerned. My 18 year old daughter has left to spend the summer in London. But she has no job and I’m not really sure what she’s going to end up doing!” I offered to introduce her to our London office manager. “She might be able to point your daughter in the right direction,” I told him. In fact, we were moving to a new office that summer, and they needed some extra hands to help with the move. She ended up being a kind of summer intern for a month. My prospective client was extraordinarily grateful for this small gesture. A few weeks later, I got a call from him. “Dr. Sobel, I need to see you.” That started a multi-year consulting relationship.

Clients remember the personal help for years after you have finished delivering your professional services. Perhaps you gave them excellent career advice and helped them think about their next move. Maybe you introduced them to someone who proved to be a valuable connection. If they were new in town, you might have helped them navigate the private-school maze.

Always look for ways to help clients–in any way possible. Don’t draw a line around the office. Client’s don’t and you shouldn’t.

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