"Strong relationships are the backbone of a strong business," says Richard Abraham, consultant and author of Mr. Shmooze: The Art and Science of Selling Through Relationships. Here's some of his advice for those aiming to master the art of the shmooze:
Touch all your key customers no less than once a month. Make up reasons to stay in touch. Even if your key customers are internal—indeed, even if you see them every day—you can still find ways to interact with them on a more personal level. Learn about what makes them tick and show that you remember what you've learned.
Surprise and delight your customers. Get creative. Don't just sign the interoffice birthday card. Bring over a quart of ice cream. And take pictures to share with customers and co-workers later.
Thank people personally. Not just in person, but personally. What positive impact has this person had on your life? How much do you appreciate their friendship, good spirits or wise counsel? Let people know.
Smile more. It's easy, it costs nothing and it always works to make people feel better about you and themselves. A good goal to have, as Abraham notes, is to leave people feeling better after they see you than they did before—every time.