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Many business relationships fail because of miscommunications. The client expected one thing, but you delivered another. They thought you were hitting a specific deadline when you thought the project was due in another month.

Every client is different, so you need to work hard to understand what they want from you and how you can best deliver. So how do you do this? Simply put, you need to develop an understanding of your client’s goals, needs, and expectations. The stronger this flow of information, the better chance you have to continue your business relationship.

Here are some communications tips that can help:

Invest time with clients like you would invest time with friends. When you first meet someone new, you likely will try to spend time with them to get to know them better, learn about your common interests and become a part of their social circles. It would help if you did the same with your clients, so they begin to trust you as much as their current colleagues. Spend time with them in person and on the phone to learn about their professional history and how they expect you to help them.

Talk openly about expectations. This is a big one. Deadlines, how to best communicate, deliverables, budgets—it should all be on the table so you can get on the same page. If either of you changes an expectation, address it immediately. Professional relationships fall apart because one party was unclear about their expectations, or someone unknowingly violated or did not deliver an implied expectation. The best way to start a professional relationship is to address everything honestly and have plenty of time for questions.

Expand communications as your professional relationship becomes more involved. In the beginning, you will want to respect clear professional boundaries as you get to know the client’s needs and personality. But the longer you work with an individual; you will start to find a rhythm. For example, you might find out they are big hockey fans, so invite them to a game to say thanks—and to get to know them better.

Tucker/Hall develops close professional ties with each of our clients to ensure they’re 100 percent happy with our efforts. You can learn more about our team here.