Amber Karen Kingston of Florida is a business consultant and contributor to several publications covering entrepreneurship, startup tools, and organizational behavior.
Without strong client relationships, long-term consulting success is nothing but a pipe dream. Like personal friendships, healthy professional connections build trust which allow consultancies to flourish. However, effectively establishing these relationships requires a few tips and tricks.
For some, socializing and communication comes naturally. They’re able to read people well and adapt to the other person’s mannerisms and formality preferences. For others, it necessitates intentional practice to acquire these skills.
The keyword according to Amber Karen Kingston? Practice. Despite the innate people-focused abilities possessed by some, others are able to learn how to approach professional relationships as a consultant using expert-given methods.
Amber Kingston of Florida on Communicating Clearly, Consistently, and Effectively
Amber Kingston of Florida explains that prioritizing efficient, prompt communication is vital for consultants. While it may seem obvious, the general fast-paced nature of corporate life can often leave little room for communication. Thus, consultants need to turn the tides and speak with their clients regularly throughout the project.
That said, such communication should never encroach on professionals’ personal time or negatively impact their productivity. Being available simply shows clients that their satisfaction is important.
Consistency here is perhaps the most important. It constructs relationships and allows comfort, affording openness and honesty between parties.
Treating Clients Like the Individuals They Are
Naturally, client relationships are professional. But acknowledging that they’re more than a paycheck will work wonders for consultants.
Although, care needs to be taken to not overstep any boundaries. The extent of the personal relationship differs depending on the individual client, the type of client, and the industry. Sometimes, all it takes is a quick ask about how their children are doing. Other times, emailing them about a local exhibition created by their favorite artist will be welcome.
Amber Karen Kingston explains that it’s up to the individual to determine how to approach and continue the more personal side of client relationships.
While a few clients may understand the ins and outs of the consultancy process, others will not. As such, they may feel ignorant about the intimate details, leading to an overall disconnect with the entire project.
Amber Kingston of Florida notes that this is where building relationships by sharing knowledge is imperative.
Clients who understand the exact role of the consultant are more likely to trust and feel confident in them and the rest of the process. Feeling in the loop goes a long way.
Perhaps one of the best ways to construct unbreakable client relationships is through fostering a reputation as a consultant who delivers exemplary results. As any expert will understand, the trick is to undersell and over perform.
Setting reasonable expectations gives consultants the opportunity to truly satisfy their clients, increasing the likelihood of earning themselves repeat business.
Displaying Empathy Over Defensiveness
Defensiveness is often the first port of call for those who feel like their abilities are coming into question. But the reality is that everybody makes mistakes — it’s how individuals handle them that truly matters.
When clients have grievances, Amber Kingston of Florida explains that consultants should act with empathy and never defensiveness. Language like:
- “Let’s review this and report back with solutions.”
- “That’s frustrating. I’m glad you’ve brought it up.
- “That’s a valid concern.” and
- “I see what you mean.”
shows humility and lets clients know that the problem will be solved with professionalism and openness.
Embracing Small Talk
While often despised, Amber Karen Kingston explains that small talk can foster unbelievable client relationships for consultants. Regardless of how cringey some feel at the beginner, the near-instant rapport built is more than worth it.
People adore talking about themselves. And small talk is all about playing into this and seeing clients as an individual. At the end of the day, customers are human beings who want to work with other human beings. Without personal touches, it’s hard to stay connected throughout a project.
Following Up After the Project
The nature of the consulting world means clients won’t require such professionals forever. But Amber Kingston of Florida observes that doesn’t mean the connection has to end.
Consultants should stay in touch with clients after the work is complete to extend relationships beyond the original hiring. To do this, professionals should inform them of new skills they develop, tell them about a key achievement, or divulge thought leadership. It’s the ideal way to ensure repeat business in the future.
With these expert-provided tips, consultants can ensure they cultivate strong relationships for long-running success.