Odds are your clients have a day job in addition to supporting the consulting project where you spend full-time hours. That means wasting client time needs to be a top concern for you.
You know you need to build a relationship, which takes some time but if you take up too much time you might start to come off as overly sales-y. Once that happens, it’s a matter of time before you’re looking for your next gig.
Make sure you keep an eye on these three things so you don’t overstay your welcome and cost yourself long-term opportunities.
Follow the client’s verbal cues during your meetings
The world is filled with all sorts of personalities and part of excelling at consulting means you borderline obsess over understanding each client’s tendencies and anticipating their next move.
When it comes to meetings or informally stopping by someone’s desk for a quick conversation, you generally have two types of people – the person who enjoys a good amount of chit-chat and the one who wants to get down to business. Get this right and engage your client in their preferred communication style and you can build great relationships. Consistently mistake one type for the other and you’ll quickly annoy a lot of people.
In reality, there’s a lot of room on the spectrum, and how a person responds to you in a situation can vary based on other factors, so there’s nothing easy about mastering this concept. That’s why you get paid the big bucks…
Watch the body language aka non-verbal cues
You can learn a lot by closing your mouth and opening your eyes. Does the client smile and wave when they see you or do they put their head down/walk the other way? People avoiding you is a good clue that your presence is going to cost them a lot of time without much benefit. It could also be that they’re lazy or just don’t like you – hopefully, you can tell the difference.
Be a student of history (I hated history…)
If you find yourself being politely excused by your client every time you meet, you might need to dial it down a notch and be more to the point in your conversations. The good news is if they’re polite it means they still like you, so try to keep it that way.
Words can betray you but people’s actions don’t, especially if you see it repeated multiple times.
The bottom line
Relationship building takes time, a commodity many people struggle with managing. Protect your clients’ time like you protect your own and it will serve you well.