7 Ways to Engage With People (for Anyone Who Doesn't Like to Engage)
My customer complained to my supervisor that I answered the phone, “Yea. What’s up?”
I was told that if I wanted to move up in my organization, I had to get out of my office more.
How could she not know what an Ethernet cord is? When I finally said “the blue cord,” she got it!
Lately, I have worked with several people with outstanding technical skills whose career growth has been limited by their inability to connect with others. They were referred to me for coaching to provide them with the necessary skills to engage successfully with coworkers, bosses, customers, and clients.
People want to hire, work with, promote, and do business with individuals they know and like. If you were not born with the “gift of gab,” and many people weren't, you can learn the skills that enable you to connect with others.
Here are 7 suggestions that will help you to engage more easily with others in your workplace:
1. Do your homework
Knowing a little about topics that are important to your customers and colleagues will make it easier to make conversation. You don’t have to be an expert on every topic, but learn enough to allow you to participate. And convey interest in the person you are talking to through your body language. Look at him or her, and maintain a pleasant facial expression.
2. Be approachable
Some people have told me that they don’t want to be approached because people will ask them work questions. My response is twofold: You don’t have to answer every question asked of you. You can use a polite line to defer your response, such as, “I’m on my way to a meeting; please call or text me to schedule some time.” But if the question has a simple answer, why not help the person immediately? Chances are, the questioner will find you later anyway.
3. Remember “the blue cord”
You should use language that your colleagues or customers will understand. Using a technical word that someone doesn’t recognize can distance you from that person. Some people understand what to do if they are told to “Pull out the Ethernet cord” from amid a tangle of cables, for instance, but those who are less tech-savvy need simpler terms: “Pull out the blue cord.”
4. Keep your phone off the table when meeting with someone
Yes, you read that correctly. Having your phone visible tells the other person, “I am so ready to drop you and connect with someone else.” And some people put two phones on the table!
5. Don’t overload people with unnecessary information
Only give them as much data as they need. Some technical people believe that they have to impart all the facts, but their customers, colleagues, or bosses may have a lower threshold for details – and tune out once it is reached.
6. Learn to socialize
This is an important business skill. You get to meet people, and they get to meet you, which can benefit you in many ways. You may meet potential new customers, enhance your chances of promotion, or simply enjoy some new friends. Go up to people, greet them, shake hands, and make conversation. The more you do it, the easier it will get.
7. Call people
Don’t communicate via email and text exclusively. Calling people on the phone when appropriate creates a more personal connection. Also remember to sound pleasant and enthusiastic. When you answer the phone, be friendly. Say hello, give your name (“Gavin Jones speaking”), and, when appropriate, ask, “How may I help you?”
Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips
Written by: Shileen Weber
When the American Funds’ Capital Group asked 400 advisors last year to name the biggest issues they face in their businesses, it wasn’t the DOL, market uncertainty or the economy that sat in the center of the idea cloud of answers.
It was client issues.
At a time when regulatory concerns and market turbulence would seem to be at all-time highs, the advisors who answered the survey were most concerned about servicing their clients as well as ways to find new ones and grow their businesses.
It’s one of the ironies of the business, that the things most people find so hard to manage – creating financial plans, managing assets and staying ahead of events – are what advisors find to be the easiest parts of the business. Marketing - the business of selling themselves – can be the area advisors find the hardest elements to master.
In this age of instant communication, it can be even more intimidating to market your practice, especially to younger clients for whom many traditional methods like newsletters, postcards and phone calls don’t work anymore. For them, email is the preferred way to get information, and, if it’s important, they are more likely to respond to texts, not phone calls.
But, it doesn’t have to be that hard. The digital age gives you access to ideas and content of all kinds you can use to touch your clients in a way that positions you as a valuable resource. The key is to keep it simple, stick to some basics and create consistent outreach that clients and potential clients are interested in and will appreciate you sharing with them.
Here is a common-sense approach you can take that will not require you to hire an expensive agency or take valuable time away from managing your clients’ assets and running your business.
Content is King
Create a content calendar for the year: Think about reasons to touch a client 13 times during the year – that can be once a month and on their birthday. (The common rule of sales is that it takes at least 7-13 touches to make a connection.) The number is limited and keeps you from inundating the clients who likely already feel inundated with content. You can take the seasonal approach – tax planning in the fall, January for account review content, college financing in the spring – and supplement it with topical events during the year. Creating a calendar will help you stick to a plan. Here’s one resource for a content calendar.
Review what content is already available to you: Basically, this means finding the resources you already have and determining what pieces will be most valuable to your clients. Start first by checking out content your broker-dealer already generates that you can personalize. Many firms have economists who write regularly about the market. That’s content you can pass along to keep clients up-to-date they would not have access to anywhere else. In addition to your broker-dealer, mutual funds, your clearing firm, and money managers are all excellent sources of informative and even analytical content.
Personalize the content you use: Add your name, the client’s name or some way to avoid making it feel like canned content that you are using just to check the outreach box. See what capabilities your email program may have to help you.
The birthday strategy: One advisor used clients’ birthdays in a new way. Instead of the card or lunch date, the advisor asked the client’s spouse for a list of friends he could invite to a birthday lunch and made it a memorable event that was also a soft approach to getting referrals.
Become a curator of good content: What your review will show you is that you don’t have to generate the content yourself. You can point clients to pieces you find insightful. You are likely already doing this every day just to keep yourself informed. The next step is to compile it and send out the very best pieces to your clients, again, with a note with your own thoughts about why you found it valuable.
Find out what is working and do more of it: Use your client interactions, in-person and online, to find out what types of content clients liked and any they didn’t. You can use tracking on your emails to see how many were opened as a measurement tool, but the personal interactions tend to provide more insight than raw data.
Be disciplined about your execution: Get help from an office assistant or schedule the time each month to do the content development and outreach. As any good strategy, if you make it a habit, it won’t seem so hard.
Most importantly, be yourself and be personal: You may want to regularly get personal by talking about your family and hobbies. The ultimate is if you can provide content that is personal to your clients, not just about their investments – they get that from their statements, apps and online portals. Think alma maters, hobbies, children and parents.
Of course, as a disclaimer, you have to make sure all content and communications are complying with regulations and the rules of your own broker-dealer.
The process of creating a plan will get you thinking about your clients in a new way. That exercise alone can re-energize your business and get you seeing marketing opportunities in places you may never have seen them before.
Shileen Weber is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at GWG Holdings. She was previously Director of Online Strategy and Client Experience at RBC Wealth Management, where they placed first in two JD Power and Associates U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study (2011 and 2013).
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