How to Network with Past Clients
Networking in your industry is one of the most important skills that you’ll learn as a planner! You’ll connect with new clients, vendors, and even other planners in your local area. Event planning, however, isn’t the kind of business where you’re finished with a client once the event is complete and the contract is over! Networking with past clients is a useful tactic for securing repeat business. How can you contact past clients in a way that doesn’t make them feel hassled? Here are some ways to keep in touch with people that encourage them to work with you again!
Keep in contact from the start
The best way to re-connect with past clients for new contracts is not to lose your connection at all! Once you’ve finished an event for someone, you can start networking with them as a past client rather than a new one almost immediately! Engaging in some kind of follow up tactic with a client a few days after your contract is a great way to both get feedback about your services and to further build a business relationship with them. It also makes clients feel as though you really value what they have to say. There are a number of different ways that you can follow up with your clients to start post-contract networking:
A phone call:
Sometimes the simplest way is best! Call the client and make sure that all of their questions following their event are answered and all of their concerns are addressed.
A letter or email:
Not everyone likes being contacted by phone, so consider written contact for a client who seemed a little uncomfortable dealing with strangers face to face. Letters are slower but give a more personal touch. Emails can be deleted easily, but since they just worked with you a few days ago, the chances are good that they’ll read and respond.
A Thank You gift:
A small token of your appreciation can go a long way in showing them how much their business means to you. You don’t want to send something very expensive, as that might make them uncomfortable. A thank you note and a notebook branded with your logo or something small and useful can express your gratitude and keep your great service in their mind.
Particularly if your service is good, clients might be willing to fill out a survey or comment card following a contract to provide you with feedback about their experience. Many companies use this tactic and not all clients will respond, but you’ll get valuable information from those who do. Surveys communicate that you’re interested in building a business relationship.
Timing is important for follow up tactics. Don’t wait so long that the client has lost interest and feels like your contact is random, but don’t call them so soon that you’re bothering them while they’re still unwinding from hosting their event. Generally, event planners will wait three days to a week to follow up with a client.
Be consistent, but not overwhelming
To network with past clients effectively, stay on their radar! Try to avoid randomly advertising your services to them, but forgetting about them in between. Contact for more personal reasons (like a holiday or even a “Hope you’re well” message) makes you stand out, because it comes off less like blatant advertising. You want to keep in touch, but you want to avoid overwhelming people. This is a business relationship, so you don’t want to get too personal. Striking a nice, balanced level of communication is ideal.
Social Networking Connections
Social networking is great for keeping in casual contact with clients. Make a Facebook profile dedicated solely to your event planning business and add clients as friends or invite them to ‘like’ your page. Once you’re connected, you can keep them updated on news, deals, and exciting events just by posting to your Facebook page. If a client has a birthday or other exciting news, you can connect with them specifically while still keeping the contact casual. Even just seeing your regular updates on their newsfeed keeps your name in their minds! There are many social networking websites you can use to stay connected with past clients:
- Facebook is great for connecting with people specifically and posting interesting articles or exciting updates about your business and services.
- Twitter posts quickly to a wide public audience.
- Instagram is useful for pictures to remind past clients how great your services were.
- Pinterest is interactive and past clients will see your material when they gather ideas for their next event.
Holidays and landmarks
Holidays and landmarks like birthdays and graduations are a great reason to connect with past clients. Because these are more personal things, however, you want to avoid making it a blatant advertising opportunity. Send them a card or kind email wishing them congratulations on their new baby, but don’t close the greeting with “get 50% off this service next week”! The fact that your relationship is a business one is reminder enough that they once hired your services. Let this come off as simply a friendly gesture.
If you decide to send a past client a gift for the holidays, or even just to say thank you, get creative! They probably have a million fridge magnets, so choose something unique that will stand out or make them laugh! These gifts don’t have to be specifically business related because the fact that you’re networking with them as a result of a business contract is enough of a reminder.
News they can use (event fairs/expos, upcoming deals, etc.)
Keeping past clients updated with event-related news that you think might interest them is a great way to network. It shows that you have their interests in mind, despite the fact that you are a business contact. If you planned a Disney Princess themed birthday party for a client’s daughter and you see a sale for Disney on Ice tickets, post it to their Facebook wall. If you planned an anniversary brunch for a client’s parents and the client talked about her love for scrapbooking the whole time, email her the information for the scrapbooking enthusiast’s expo that you’ve been hired to help plan next week. Clients will appreciate that you took an interest in their personal details rather than just concentrating on business and they’ll be encouraged to work with you again.
Past clients are important!
Event planners are always on the lookout for new clients, and practicing your networking skills with new people is critical! Even so, try not to overlook the people you’ve already made connections with in your efforts to build new ones. Networking with past clients can be beneficial. In fact, building strong business relationships with clients who know that they can trust your services can be very lucrative!