I love my job. One reason is getting to be the driving force behind a group's change. You get to know them, you work with them, introduce something new, and turn their old habits into new ones. I think partly why these large changes are so successful is our commitment to the people. And this commitment can only be reached face-to-face. It makes a huge difference to watch their body language, understand their frustrations, and share their smiles of accomplishment. The constant interactions and connections that you make every day while on-site with a client isn't automatic though and if your presence is the one that can make or break the group's change, I have a few tips that can improve your chances of consulting success.
- Write down everything
- Your clients can not only see your facial expressions, but are also watching your actions. They know if you wrote down their suggestion because they either see you jot in your notebook or just take a mental note. Don't underestimate the power of writing things down. Not only will it help you remember it, but your client will gain confidence in you because they see that their thoughts matter. They know you listened because you wrote down their thoughts. It makes them feel like you care!
- Ask for local advice
- If you are on site with a client, you probably are out of town and unfamiliar with the area. Ask the locals for their favorite coffee or food spots, best driving routes, and recommendations on tourist locations worth visiting. This will allow them to share their expertise with you and they feel valuable. Don't underestimate the power of letting your client share some personal experiences. Any discussions about extracurricular activities will boost their self confidence to make dealing with the tough business topics easier.
- Always be approachable
- Sometimes you hover over their shoulder watching what they are doing like a boss. Sometimes you are hunched over with a technical issues at your laptop in the corner. Other times you may be in tense conversations with management over contract costs. In all situations, you must remember that at any time a worker may have a question. They should never have to feel uneasy or hesitant in asking. Therefore, keeping good posture and a neutral expression is important. It may require conscious focus on your part at first but it will make a big difference up and down the chain of command in the long run.
Have you been through an experience in which seeing the other person in-person made all the difference? What was the determining factor that made you walk away afterwards feeling cared for? Was it technical support at Geek Squad versus phone support of Microsoft? Was it having your quarterly review at company headquarters instead of an email? Share what made the real difference!
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