In a hyperconnected world, we’re in danger of using technology as a crutch and an excuse not to connect with clients in the meaningful ways we once did. At The Covenant Group, we all discuss the importance of delegating to technology – researching online to learn more about prospects, using software to track client information and send regular communications to clients or prospects. But that is not to suggest that these tools can be used in lieu of fostering a meaningful relationship with prospects and clients.

I was prompted to write this post after coming across a Forbes blog piece from client relationship management consultant Gene Marks. Although he focuses primarily on social media and the business data opportunities that LinkedIn has yet to capitalize upon, one of his comments struck a chord with me. He notes that he can now use a prospect or client’s LinkedIn profile details to get a scoop on that person’s “gossip,” such as mutual acquaintances, and use that to relate to him or her.

“It saves me some of the time I’d normally spend, like any salesperson, making chit chat as I covertly gaze around her office, looking at diplomas, photos and artifacts from sporting events or vacations that I can use to build a connection,” he says.

Saving time a detriment to building connections?
The Covenant Group team emphasizes the importance of doing background research before meeting with a prospect here in our blog and in our work with clients. But these cursory steps are only meant to provide insight into a person’s interests and motivations. They are not meant to take the place of the “chit chat” that is at the heart of establishing a friendly rapport – they should just offer guidance as to the direction you should take the conversation.

I don’t believe that Marks was suggesting LinkedIn and other technologies can entirely replace this small talk. It is just worth reiterating that every moment you spend getting to know a prospect builds client capital. We are all so hyperconnected (and perhaps overexposed) now. Cellphones and other mobile devices are always vying for our attention, luring us away from real-world connections with the promise of time efficiency, deeper knowledge and easier processes.

Clients will see that you are invested in creating a relationship when you don’t assume everything you need to know is online and you take the time to ask questions, listen and discuss issues other than the business matter at hand.