Happy new year Women’s Journal readers! Starting this article I wanted to talk about how we feel loved–or to use a more “work appropriate” term, appreciated. After hosting a holiday social and sending out Christmas cards I decided finding ways to show appreciation to those I network with will be a big part of my upcoming year. Let’s talk about how we can show our appreciation in networking, in how we treat clients, and how we interact with our team. I reread the five languages of appreciation in the workplace in preparation for writing this article. I took the quiz. The results came out differently than my traditional love language. So then I took the original love language quiz again. And it turns out those results were drastically different than they were years ago.
It occurs to me that we change throughout our roles. We change in not only how we do things but in how we respond. What we prefer and what actions we take evolve throughout the years, so this is a great yearly review as we head into 2020. The new year usually means reflection and goal setting, and after goals have been set, I suggest retaking these types of “personality” tests on an annual basis since our preferences change based on what is going on in our lives. I have seen this progression and growth in individual business professionals time and time again in my 20+ years of sales, marketing and leadership.
Knowing these preferences of others (and ourselves) can truly help us in networking with others and interacting with our teams. I want to share five ways you can use this knowledge to build your business.
1. Know your own “language” to know how you will likely respond to others.
You can see what others have done to show appreciation, that will usually clue you in to how to show them appreciation. This holds true for yourself also. So first step in using these “languages” is to know your own language. Every book and article I have read on this topic brings this up first. Knowing it may take a bit more effort to communicate outside your own preferences, but it can help you gain a stronger ability to see each of the styles others may possess. If you are not familiar, the 5 languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.
2. Show your team appreciation in their preferred way.
Do they want bonuses of money and gifts or do they just want you to take them out to lunch? If they have a rough week, should you offer to help them with a task on hand or give a hug? Is a resounding great job in front of their peers all they need? If you are not sure what they prefer just by observing their own behavior, ask (or have them take the quiz).
3. Build individual relationships with those you network with by the platinum rule.
Those who know me have likely heard me talk about the difference between the Golden Rule and the Platinum Rule. The Golden Rule says “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you watch your interactions with people, you will see this is your natural style of showing love and appreciation (see tip #1). The Platinum Rule takes it one step further by saying “do unto others as THEY would have you do unto them.” When you are networking, you will see professionals each show you they feel connected to you in a different way. Ever meet that person who is a hugger after your first meeting? Physical contact is probably important to them to feel appreciated and connected. How about someone who values words of affirmation? They are likely the one who stands up to shout out an amazing referral at the chamber meeting. Sending an email note to say thanks for taking the time to meet with me would probably do wonders for your relationship with them!
4. Strengthen your relationships with your clients based on their needs and wants.
Business owners often feel networking is just going to events or lead generation in a face- to-face way. In actuality, networking does not stop once you’ve closed the sale. You can strengthen your relationships with your clients by continuing to network with them in different ways. In marketing for our members in Connection Exchange, I have seen this in an obvious way. The members I see more often seem to frequently speak praises of our services and share with me how they feel we are of great value. In addition to making sure you see your clients on a regular basis to network and build the connection you have, you also want to use the knowledge of their language for showing them both your value in your product or service and your appreciation of having them as a client. Sometimes they want to be able to attend an appreciation event to connect with you and your network (we do these on a quarterly basis in Connection Exchange) or sometimes they want you to go above and beyond by expanding the services you offer.
5. Avoid annoying your vendors and get your needs fulfilled by knowing how to relate.
Knowing your own language along with being able to spot and communicate other peoples’ languages can help you have a strong relationship with the vendors you choose to work with. This is the flip side, where you are the client. Communication is key when hiring a professional for a service that you either can’t or don’t want to do. By knowing the language of your vendors, you can easily become their favorite customer! I hear so often from business owners that clients who become a pain will eventually be “fired” or will not be getting referrals. While there may be issues that you need to address with the service (or product) that you are purchasing, knowing how to show appreciation for what they do for you can make a professional happy to go the extra mile for you.
By applying these tips to networking of your business (and life in general), you will definitely build the best relationships possible with those around you to grow your business in a stress-free and appreciation-filled way!