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Building a relationship is critical to succeeding in business. By getting to know your clients and potential clients beyond just a surface level, you can begin to establish a meaningful connection. The more your prospects and clients get to know, understand, and trust you, the more likely they become to work with you rather than turning to your competitors.

But, in a time of social distancing and remote work, how do you build these connections and relationships? You can focus on building relationships virtually by implementing some smart strategies.

It is vitally important to make a point to focus on establishing rapport. When you meet virtually with a client or potential client, make the first move by speaking first. It does not need to dive immediately into business. You may share what you did over the weekend or something you are looking forward to doing. While it is tempting to let others first but to set the tone, you should talk first.

You always want to close the call with a casual conversation. Like in-person meetings, save time for easy going discussions at the end of your virtual session. After the formal part of the meeting ends, you could bring it to a close-by, refocusing your relationship. You might say something like, “Great, so the next steps are A, B, and C. Before you go, I would love to know more about what you said about being a part-time professional chef. That sounds interesting.” This shows you are personally invested and care. The result – the other person will be more engaged in what you are saying and how you may be able to help them.

You should try to schedule brief check-ins. To keep the conversation going, sales professionals should prioritize contacting prospects and clients to check-in. You do not need to request an hour on someone’s calendar—just 15 minutes is sufficient. With minimal interpersonal interaction, it is helpful to schedule a video meeting to grow the relationship. People often find it easier to connect to others when they can see them.

You must work on building relationships outside of formal meetings. Keep in mind, you can make connections and establish rapport with clients and potential clients outside of scheduled appointments. This can be sending a text, an email, or a LinkedIn message. There are various channels where you can strike up a friendly conversation. It can be as simple as giving a client’s post a like or adding a comment that demonstrates your interest.

Relationships matter in business. We have learned you do not need a handshake or face-to-face eye contact to build a relationship with your clients and potential clients. Even when most of your meetings happen virtually, you can build trust by establishing a common ground right from the start, making time for casual discussion at the end of the session, and committing to regular check-ins. Learn how to create rapport and thrive.

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