Today is an exciting time to live and work. The world is literally at your fingertips. You can Skype with someone in Tokyo, get LinkedIn with a colleague in Berlin and form a #slack group with people in Melbourne, Santiago, Seoul and Baltimore. For every problem there are thousands of solutions just a click or a tap away. So how do you stand out, rise to the top and build long-term success? Lead with love.

Leading with love means making real connections not just providing a quick fix. It takes time, nurturing and an honest drive to understand those you serve. Value them and they will value you. When you love your people, you love your clients, and you love your partners then you create a wonderful life – for everyone.

Build a community, not a database.

Long-term success doesn’t come from having the biggest database of clients, it comes from building a strong business community. A long list of contacts does nothing for you if they’re not engaged, and creating engagement is a conscious, strategic effort.

What people need are resources, instead of more distractions.  Give your clients the tools they need to engage with each other, and you’ve given them a pool of dedicated resources they can continuously come back to and rely upon. Create online communities and communication channels dedicated to troubleshooting and best practices. Host events – digitally or in person – where your audiences and meet one another and learn something new. Creating community builds connections that lead to long-term engagement with your company.

Make connections, not transactions.

These days we’re constantly being distilled into algorithms. Our online searches and purchases turn into pop-up ads and 15% discounts for our birthday month. However, that is transactional, not personal. Right now, personal is premium.

Get to know your clients on a personal level – what they think, feel, struggle with and celebrate. Open your heart to them as people and you will be better equipped to see the big picture of their needs and how you fit into their worlds. When your clients know that they’re much more than a number on their bottom line, they know they can trust and rely on you as a dedicated provider.

Be a part of their lives, not just a part of their business.

The traditional work life is a thing of the past.  More people than ever work remotely, our phones allow us to carry our offices with us wherever we go and most of our social media connections are packed with colleagues and business associates. Business is no longer impersonal. Personal connections enrich the business experience.

Your clients are no longer price quotes and bills of material. They’re human beings with whole lives to celebrate. Has a client moved? Send them some flowers. Is it their birthday? Send them a card and a mix of music that you think will make them happy. Celebrate your clients and they will celebrate their relationship with you.

Another way to be part of your clients’ lives is by creating memories with them. If you’re doing a training or a conference, make it a whole experience. Send exciting, experiential invitations. Take them someplace exciting, like a local landmark or attraction. Give them an educational experience (about more than just your products and services).  The more fond memories you give them, the more they think fondly of you.

Intend to give praise, not receive it.

We all appreciate our clients. They keep the lights on and salaries paid. They also offer insights into our products and services that can only be offered by those who use it every day. Celebrate that with them! Let them know not only that you appreciate them, but specifically what you appreciate. Not only will you encourage them to continue to share those insights, but you may get an equal amount of appreciation in return.

A great way to show your clients how much you appreciate them is to create awards around their innovative and successful implementations of your products and services. Sing their praises not just to them, but to your whole business community. It strengthens both your relationship with them and your business community’s relationship with you and what you offer.

Leading with love is the future of successful business relationships. There is an abundance of solutions to business problems and easy global access to them. In order to grow the quality of your business and your life, to attract the types of employees and clients that enrich the experience of your business and create long-term loyalty, show your empathy, establish a personal connection and share your love.  Try it!  You might really love it!

This blog post was first posted on SMPS Wisconsin’s website. You can see the full article here.