1. Nurture the relationship throughout the year. Don’t just call when you need something!
2. Get to know your employers on a personal level. Show an interest in something that’s important to them – whether it’s a hobby, their kids, or a favorite vacation spot. Find out the employer’s birthday, and remember him or her by sending a card or note. It’s the small things that will distinguish you from other professionals.
3. Under promise and over deliver. Going beyond what’s required on a regular basis shows that you’re willing to work hard for them! Being consistent and reliable will go a long way in cementing your relationship.
4. Forward on relevant professional development opportunities as they become available. If possible, sponsor one of your own through a breakfast workshop or “brown bag” lunch. Survey your employers to find out what’s currently of interest.
5. If your employers are in a specific industry, read the latest information and forward on articles or important information that may affect their business. A great information source is the Society for Human Resource Management (www.shrm.org). If you’re a workforce development professional, this is a paid membership that is well worth the investment.
6. Introduce new services based on the employer’s business needs versus your standard array of service. That customized approach will show that you’re paying attention.
7. Clarify the employer’s expectations of your working relationship, such as when to follow up, how to handle problems that may arise, and what role you can play in ensuring the job retention of your candidates.
8. When referring job candidates, don’t just refer because you need to make your placement numbers. Your goal in building relationships is to have a happy and satisfied customer!
Now, pick a strategy and get to it!