Great meeting planners know that a successful event involves more than just ensuring that all the details are in place. Sure, it’s important to check that the microphones work and the handouts are properly collated, but unless you have the people skills to go with your organizational skills, you may never get a chance to put your abilities to the test.
Having strong interpersonal skills not only allows you to develop good client relationships; they can also help you to get the clients in the first place. How you represent yourself from the onset can determine whether or not a client will choose to hire you. And, how you interact with a client once you are hired can determine whether they will want to work with you in the future.
So, what are the key elements to establishing and maintaining strong relationships with your clients? Here are some basic guidelines to consider:
· Develop TrustFrom your first interaction with your prospective client, you must demonstrate that you can not only meet, but exceed, their expectations. Provide examples of successful events that you have planned, and discuss what you did personally to ensure that those events were successful. Showing that you have a detailed event management system will definitely boost the client’s confidence in you.
· Be AvailableWhether by phone, email or text, you want your clients to know that you are there whenever they need you. Having open channels of communication can put your client at ease if they need to reach you quickly with questions or changes.
· Provide UpdatesCommunication goes both ways. Your client will want to know how the planning is going and if there are any complications. If you bring things to their attention right away and offer solutions to any challenges that arise, it helps to reassure your client that you are capable and efficient and that everything is under control.
· Be CreativeThink about what you can do to make your client’s meeting or event different from every other meeting or event. Consider the ambiance of the room or the snack offerings at break time. You can even suggest including value-added giveaways to support the meeting’s message. Personal touches always make a lasting impression.
· Stay Within BudgetOf course, it is also essential to be realistic with your ideas so you can stay within budget. Keeping costs in perspective will not only make you look good, it can also help to make your client look good.
· Keep In TouchThe end of an event does not mean the end of your client relationship. Invite your client to lunch. Send a monthly newsletter with helpful tips. Drop off a plant to thank your client for their business. Show you care about them and would be happy to work with them again.
When all's said and done, being a great meeting planner depends on your integrity as much as your capabilities. If you can show that you can be trusted to get the job done and that you are invested in your client’s success, your chances of getting their business—and their referrals—will continue to increase.