I believe in saying what I'll do and doing what I say (and don't buy into the consultant cliché of "under promise and over deliver"). However, I do want to provide whatever support for my client when possible. What are some ways to give that impression without being obnoxious about it?
You are right to be cautious. Clients are smart (they hired you, didn't they?) and keenly perceptive (they got their job, didn't they?) so be genuine or don't bother. Here are a few thoughts:
- Purposely "beat" a promised deadline (e.g., something expected next week is given to them tomorrow).
- Periodically send over helpful information and notes about things you feel will benefit them.
- Send an informal note recommending articles of particular interest to them or their business with no other "strings" attached.
- Prepare a summary report of an event you just attended and send it to them without telling them in advance that you are going to do it.
- Provide friendly, unexpected reminders/acknowledgements of key dates, events, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. Do not even consider these unless you have already talked about the event and share its significance.
The ultimate goal should always get them to think "Wow, that was way more than I ever expected. I appreciate that." What you don't want them to think is "That's odd. I wonder why he or she did that?" It has to be natural and something that occurs to you as a person, not in your role as a consultant. Non-business items can be more appreciated than business items.© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA