In a previous era, people flew around the country, and in some cases, internationally, to conduct business. Back then, they had the luxury of time and the ability to sit across the table from prospective clients to really get to know them. That means they could rely on interpersonal skills such as a warm smile, a firm handshake, direct eye contact as well as communicating a sincere interest in their prospects or clients. They could get to know others on a personal and a business basis. Today that has changed. Many of us cannot meet prospects, clients, and sometimes even co-workers in person. Yet we still have to build relationships. This means earning a person’s trust and respect by showing you care about them, their needs, interests and priorities.
How can you accomplish those goals remotely? Here are some suggestions:
- When contacting others by phone, always state your name clearly, along with the purpose of your call and ask if the responder has a moment to talk. If he or she says “no”, find out a better time to call or ask if the email is a better way to connect.
- When introducing yourself to others, make sure you have an interest generating statement followed by a question to get responders involved in the conversation. Sometimes, a reference to a news item or something on their website can be a door opener, and it shows a personal approach.
- Be vigilant about keeping records of your conversations and what you learn about the person at the other end of the phone.
- Be thoughtful and considerate about the other person’s time, including the time zone where the responder works.
- Try to schedule phone appointments through Skype, Outlook, WebEx, Join.me or other forms of conference calling.
- Recap previous conversations, including expressed needs and priorities to see if anything has changed.
In the end, as a relationship builder, remember how you respond to callers, especially when they are warm, friendly and positive. Be patient and recognize that not every contact represents a good fit. Whether it does or doesn’t, always thank the person for their time and wish them the best. You never know when your paths will cross again.