How to Build Long Distance Business Relationships

I grew up 800 miles away from my grandparents. My husband grew up next door to his grandmother. The ways we grew our relationships with our grandparents were very different.

The way we do business today is very different, too. Years ago, all your business was done within your community. Now business is done on a global basis. You have to adapt the way you develop relationships with your global clients if you want to see your business grow.

One of the things I remember and treasure from my childhood were our yearly trips to visit the grandparents and relatives. We had the opportunity to interact with them face to face.

If circumstances allow, visit with your clients in person. You may both attend a conference where you can set aside time to take your client out for a meal and get that 1-1 time that is hard to come by when you live far away from each other. Sometimes businesses only interact with local clients virtually. Take them out to lunch once in a while. Get to know them as a person and what is important to them. Skype is a great way to see each other face to face, as well. If you don’t have an opportunity to travel to see your clients, use Skype so you can at least see each other. You know people in a different way when you have seen them, rather than just spoken to them.

I recall on my birthdays, my grandpa would call and sing to me on the phone. Likewise, we would call and each child would spend a little time talking on holidays and birthdays. That was when we had to pay by the minute for phone calls! The time on the phone was brief, but we got to hear each other’s voices.

In our virtual world, take the time to pick up the phone once in a while. It’s free! You may end up leaving a message, but at least your client will hear your voice. The phone call doesn’t need to last long. Just take a few minutes and let them know you are thinking of them and talk for a few minutes. There doesn’t have to be a reason for the phone call. In fact, it may mean more to them if you call “just because.” If you have international clients, Skype is a great way to make a free phone call – just be sure to check the time difference so you don’t end up calling in the middle of the night.

One thing we always looked forward to as kids was getting things in the mail. If our birthday or a holiday was near, we were sure to get a visit from “the package man.” Those brown boxes were filled with treasures wrapped in pretty paper. It was so exciting to open them and see what was inside!

Receiving a package or a card or letter in the mail is exciting at any age. When you take the time to send a card or gift to your clients, you will be deepening your relationship with them and the good feelings they have towards you.

In our virtual world, developing relationships with clients takes a little more effort, but it is even more important. When there is no bond between you and your clients, there will be less retention and fewer referrals. Take advantage of every opportunity to strengthen your global relationships. Pick up the phone, send something in the mail, and see your clients in person when it is possible.

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