Oh, those heady days of the '80s and '90s with 4-hour agency client lunches, exclusive dinners, wild events and extravagant Christmas gifts! Now that we are crawling out the other side of the GFC we see companies frowning on displays of excess, so how can we - as Account Managers - show our clients that extra level of attention? Is schmoozing dead?
In the agency world, there is no denying that schmoozing is still one of the keys to business success. It's how you network, build partnerships and cement lasting relationships, It's how you get deals done, gather support, persuade, sell your ideas and get ahead in your career.
With any business deal, you have to establish a human connection before you get down to the detail, and schmoozing is one way to help establish that connection.
The trick is you need to know how your client ticks in order to know how best to schmooze them. Not all clients like to be taken on a fishing trip for the day. Some would see that as a waste of their business time. Some would see it as being an insincere attempt at extracting their marketing dollar. Some companies forbid their staff receiving gifts such as fishing trips. Some clients LOVE it!
Perhaps we need to redefine 'schmoozing", and figure out how schmoozing can help you develop great client relationships:
Schmoozing doesn't need to be fancy or expensive, and it doesn't need to involve gifts. Think of ways, or environments, that would be conducive to developing business relationships. These could include:
Maya Angelou once said "people will never forget how you make them feel". If you are genuine and caring, not pushy or arrogant, and if you give the gift of time and attention, your clients will remember the feeling this produces, you will reap the rewards!
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Keeping clients happy will lead to repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals. Keeping suppliers happy could mean sharper pricing and improved turnaround times. Keeping your team happy will allow you to move work around your agency quickly and without fuss. And, most of all, it will mean people will like working with you, which should open more doors than you could ever imagine.
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