By TED RUSINOFF
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It’s getting too easy to think that we know people. Fifteen or 20 years ago, a “contact” was someone you had a personal relationship with, but now they could simply be a LinkedIn connection with whom you’ve had minimal in-person interactions. We don’t know our clients as well anymore and that prevents us from doing our best work.
To amend that, it’s time to rethink how we connect. In a culture over-saturated with texts, emails and “likes,” let’s reduce the tech fatigue and break through to make more personal, caring connections with our clients. If you’ve come to depend on emails for communicating or LinkedIn for prospecting, take a step back and evaluate how to include non-tech-based connections.
Social media may seem like a great place to connect with people, but it doesn’t help us cultivate real, meaningful relationships. You want your clients to feel as if you are invested in their well-being. Does a Facebook comment or a handwritten note convey that message better?
Make a point to connect with clients off-screen. For me, writing a note and sending it via postal mail carries more intentionality than a comment online. Your clients need to be able to trust you with some of their hardest life decisions, so build that foundation of trust by showing them your sincerity and care. If your client buys a new house, take them out for a celebratory beer. If they have a new baby, send them a gift basket. Make sure to celebrate life with your clients, and you’ll demonstrate your investment in both their life and their financial success.
Phone calls work for demonstrating personal intentionality, too. Unfortunately, they’ve been unfairly demoted as a form of communication. Texts and emails might seem more convenient, but they leave too much room for misinterpretation. They also don’t allow for the natural flow of conversation to happen, and you could miss out on understanding a client’s true problem. In the end, you’ll also find that you’re more memorable to clients when they can interact with you face to face.
The Millennials In The Room
Those of you with millennial clients might be skeptical. We’re often told that millennials dislike face-to-face communication and phone calls. If your clients currently text you, don’t stop returning the text. However, if the “quick question” instead becomes a 27-message text conversation, pick up the phone and give them a call. The key is to uncover your client’s preferred method of communication, but not to feel enslaved to it if it hinders effective communication.
Establish a precedent, especially with your younger clients, that when you need to have a longer conversation you will give them a call. My clients answer when I call because I’ve demonstrated to them that I’ll only ring when texting is no longer helpful.
One Step At A Time
If you’re stuck communicating via text, it’s not too late to transition to more personal options. The best way forward is to add to what you’re doing. If you hash out a complicated subject with a client over text, call them the next day. Tell them the topic is important and you’re following up to make sure they understood everything.
If social media is vital for you, don’t neglect it. Just be aware that its main purpose is to be present in a community, not to create one. Keep up your LinkedIn habits, but incorporate phone calls to prospects into your day-to-day routine. If you want to start writing handwritten notes, give yourself a number of notes to write per week. Find occasions to send notes to clients and go from there.
Social media lures us into believing connections will be easier, but instead they’ve only become more superficial. In order to offer the best services to our clients, it’s time to find our way back to more meaningful ways of connecting with them.
Ted Rusinoff is Managing Partner at Wealth Design Partners and the National Sales Director for Secured Advantage. Ted has 27 years of experience in personal and business financial services and currently serves as President of the MDRT Foundation. He is an 11-year MDRT member and lives in Stow, Ohio.