Building relationships and social media

 

By: Dan Johnson, Vice President, Sales and Marketing

 

Many people are surprised to learn that when I started out in the insurance industry, I was actually working in IT. Now, my IT skills may not have remained up to date, but I still find the use of technology invaluable. Especially in our industry, where relationships are so important, the technology tools available to us through social media can help build the kinds of deep, lasting relationships which have been the foundation of our success here at Trustmark.

Relationships are the bedrock of business

Anyone who has spent time with me knows how much I emphasize lasting relationships. From our clients, to our sales team to our staff at Trustmark’s home office, I’m constantly trying to drive home how much we value building relationships for the long haul. A lasting business relationship is a gift that keeps on giving. To develop those kinds of relationships, there are several practices that I advocate:

  • Take time to listen – Listening leads to understanding, understanding builds trust
  • Be able to adapt and learn new tricks – Relationships and people change, so should you
  • Be a resource, even when it’s not time to collect a check – If you’re only showing up on your terms, your client will take note and the relationship suffers
  • Be flawless on the details – Make sure their experience is smooth in every detail, also, make sure you know the nuances of what makes them unique as a client

Where does social media fit in?

Despite my IT roots, I am, at heart, an old school kind of guy and I think the values above reflect that. The reason that I’m a believer in the tools available through social media and, particularly for a business professional, through LinkedIn, is that they all complement the practices I’ve outlined above.

  • Taking time to listen – Face-to-face time with your client is a must, but if you want to know what’s on their mind, they’re likely to be sharing it on LinkedIn. Connect with them, join the groups they’re in and you’ll constantly be tapped in to what’s on their mind.
  • Being able to adapt and learn new tricks – LinkedIn is a great place to learn new sales strategies, find the latest industry trends and keep abreast of industry news. The multitude of voices on social media will expose you to new tactics and new ideas that will help you better serve your clients and forge stronger relationships as their needs evolve.
  • Being a resource, even when it’s not time to collect a check – Communication is a two-way street and you can use your LinkedIn profile to share new ideas with clients or simply be a resource for information even when you aren’t actively selling. The more they see you as a source of information, the more they’ll trust you and feel comfortable working with you going forward.
  • Being flawless on the details – This ties back to the listening that you’re able to do through social media. If you’re listening to what’s going on with your clients, you’re better prepared to start conversations already knowing some of the details on your client’s needs. Showing that kind of dedication is often rewarded with a client’s dedication in turn. Even small things, like noting milestones for your clients, can show that you’re someone who’s invested.

For me, there’s nothing more rewarding in business than building a deep, lasting relationship. Both personally and for our company’s growth, it’s what I’ve found to be the recipe for success. I may not be the first call anymore to troubleshoot IT problems, but technology still plays an important role in my work thanks to the tremendous relationship-building potential in social media.