If you live in Baltimore, you’ll often hear people reference “smalltimore,” meaning people in different circles tend to cross paths down the line, or you meet someone who knows five people you know. I guess you could say it’s our version of six degrees of Kevin Bacon. Sure, it’s not the biggest city, so I guess that makes sense. Still, sometimes it surprises me how people I know from one circle end up meeting a friend from another.
In the business world, this happens less frequently, but it still happens. Recently in business, I’ve come across two “smalltimore” examples. We’ve just begun a project with a national client where my former co-worker and friend now manages the company’s public relations. Another example came from a new client, where an old client just got hired. Luckily for us, they both really like our work.
These recent examples reminded me of a few important things to keep in mind for your business relationships:
- Connect. Clients leave an agency for various reasons, be it budget constraints, or changes in direction or leadership, etc. However, it’s important that you connect with clients, whether that’s through LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram and keep a pulse on their business. You never know if their business direction will change in your favor, or if they jump to a different company that presents a potential business opportunity. Same goes with co-workers. Many folks leave to go in-house at a company, so whether or not you were friends, be sure to stay connected.
- Keep in touch. If you’ve done a good job connecting with former co-workers or clients, it makes it easy to drop them a line every once in a while. Maybe you received a call from a reporter about an opportunity that’s not a fit for your current client, but it makes sense for your former one. In the area, see if they are free for lunch. Did they expand their family? Send a card. These little touches continue the relationship and help keep the door open for future opportunities.
- Just be nice. Let’s face it, if you’ve worked at an agency for as long as I have, you’ve definitely worked with your fair share of personalities. Some amazing, some difficult, but that’s part of the job. Always keep your cool, stay above the fray and remain professional in all situations. Sure, it’s easy to lose your cool, but clients come back because you’re easy to work with and get the job done. So handle things with a smile, and remember never to burn a bridge.