One of my favorite clients was laid off yesterday. She was upbeat when breaking the news—she’s amazing, and will land a great new job in no time—but I’m sad. I will miss working with her, visiting her, and lunching or cocktailing at various spots in the Ferry Building. We’ve shared many laughs, and a few tears. I have a nine-year history with this client, and we’ve become friends.
What makes for a great client-vendor relationship? The same things we value in our friendships and marriages: trust, respect, commitment, open communication. And a meaningful personal connection. I really like my client who just got laid off, and I am sad that she is “moving on.” What’s up with that?
It’s not the money.
Full disclosure: a huge part of my personal happiness comes from the relationships I have with my Content Bureau clients and team. There was a time last year when our clients were really cutting back due to the economy, and nobody wanted to meet with me. I offered coffee, lunch at “slightly nicer than you’d normally expect from a vendor with whom you’ve had to reduce your normal spending” venues, even Specialty’s wheat germ chocolate chip cookies hand-delivered to their cubes. Seriously, who can resist that cookie—or me? Many people, apparently. My clients didn’t even want to talk with me on the phone. I rationalized: they didn’t have work for us, so they didn’t want to waste my time, or their own. But still…. Ouch.
In 2008, another of my favorite clients came to my 40th birthday party and danced with my sister’s mother-in-law until the wee hours. Honestly, is that Love with a capital L? That gesture meant more to me than all the chunky POs this friend, um, client has sent to the Content Bureau in the many years we’ve worked together.