You can build strong long-term relationships with people and clients who share common values and beliefs. That’s why choosing the right clients is important. Second is trusting each other through ups and down. Finally, persevering through the relationship by providing value like help, advice, resources, or simple appreciation. Even on days, that you feel like you’re giving more.
Having long-term clients is a great thing for both you and your clients. You can have a deeper relationship, which is much more meaningful than just having a one-off interaction. Your client knows that they can depend on you to consistently deliver the goods, which results in them spending less time worrying about whether they will be able to get the help they need when they need it.
When you work with a client on an ongoing basis, it gives you the opportunity to see how they grow and change over time. You can get a better sense of what they like and dislike, and how their tastes have developed since the last time you worked together. It also affords you the opportunity to learn more about them as a person.
Before taking on a client permanently, it's crucial to get to know them well enough that you can focus on who they are and what they like, rather than simply treating them as another project. The kind of relationship that makes a good long-term client is one where the client feels comfortable enough to share their feedback, including any suggestions for improvement that could help make your company better for them, and for other people in their life. This builds trust and communication between you and your client that will ultimately lead to a great working relationship—and, of course, happy clients who come back again and again.
Establishing common values and beliefs
The goal of any business relationship should be to foster the deepest possible connection between you and the client. This creates a bond of trust, which is the cornerstone of any long-term partnership. However, in order to build that crucial foundation, you must have common values and beliefs.
Try to do research on their company before your first conversation so that you can find out what they're all about. Before you even speak with them, think about things you have in common and start talking about those topics first.
Whether your client is a person or a company, it's important to have shared beliefs and values to build the necessary foundation for a successful partnership. For example, let's say you're a wedding photographer who aims to capture the love between two people. If you value variety in your images and make sure to get as many different shots from different angles as possible, but your client believes in only having one shot of each pose to save money on extra film and processing, there will be conflict even if it never comes up during the shoot—this is because the two of you fundamentally disagree about the purpose of the images being taken.
While you want to put yourself in your client's shoes, it's important to remember that not every company or person is going to be a great fit for you. The greatest asset that you can offer a potential client is your ability to listen and understand, which will help you identify areas where your interests align with theirs.
The power of trust
The first step to building trust is getting to know your client as best you can—what makes them tick? What motivates them? What inspires them in their everyday life? By getting to know this about each of your clients, you're forging a connection with them that will allow for a stronger working relationship in the future. From there, you need to take it a step further and show that your client can trust you on a personal level, too. You want them to feel comfortable enough around you that they feel like they can come to you with any questions or issues about your work together.
Trust is the foundation of a good relationship, and it's not something that happens overnight. First, don't lie or mislead your clients. Keep your promises and show your clients that you have their best interests in mind at all times. Involve them in projects—they'll appreciate the opportunity to feel like they have some ownership over what you're doing, and it can help them feel more connected and invested in the end result as well. Learn as much as you can about your client's business—the more you understand what they do, the better service you'll be able to provide them with and the more effective your solutions will be for their company's goals. Letting them know that you can do the job well and deliver, is a way of establishing trust in itself.
Providing value to your clients
Given the right context, the right content, and extra effort on your part, your clients can become genuine connections to people you care about. You might even find that the person on the other end of a client relationship is someone you'd love to learn more about, maybe even enough so that you keep your contact outside of work-related correspondence. But to get there, you need to start thinking about them more like people instead of just paying customers.
Even before them being your actual clients, start treating your audience in whatever platform you are in as a client and aim to provide value for them. Publish content that are engaging, value-packed, and solves one of the problems your audience might have. If they become your client, go above and beyond and more than what they need, find out what might not be working and check what else needs improvement.
Learn from them
Take every project with a client as a learning experience. When you really get to know your clients, you're able to think of them as people, not just clients. You can learn from their relationship with you and the business and see things from their perspective.
Your clients are different kinds of people and from there, you can get different kinds of perspective on their needs, what works and what doesn’t, as well as the solutions you come up with. You also get to meet people of different backgrounds, with different attitudes, goals, and principles about their work and business. Interacting with different clients is the best hands-on experience you can get in managing a business. It may even be the way to find your ideal client.
Ultimately, the best way to forge a deeper relationship with your clients is through communication and transparency. Sharing opinions, thoughts, feelings, and understanding with one another will help each side better understand the needs of the other, allowing for a stronger foundation for long-term business relationships to flourish. In the end, we have the freedom to choose and let go of the clients we have, and thus who and what we surround ourselves with is who and what we become.
Now, try to take some time to reflect on who are the ideal clients you want to work with. Consider building a comprehensive buyer persona. Where could you find them? What are the things that they care about and want to know? How can you reach them? How can you connect and build a deeper relationship with your ideal client?