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Is your database like a bottle of fine wine saved only for a special occasion? Or maybe your database is more like a trophy sitting on a shelf, rather than being cultivated like the powerful tool that it is.

Every smart businessperson knows they need their contacts in a database for easy access and segmentation. While that’s a great first step, the real power is to leverage this group to get a high return on investment (ROI), through nurturing and growing your sphere of influence.

Like any relationship, consistent engagement is critical to leveraging this valuable group of people. Too often we pursue “strangers” in the form of cold leads, and yet, you have a qualified list of “friends” who already know and like you in your database.
Endorsements about you from those people to their friends who need your services come with a higher level of trust. Getting referrals is less work, costs less money and yields greater results.

Client relationship management platforms (CRMs) allow us to “sort” various contacts into categories. Certain groups can be nurtured more effectively with different types of contact, and a CRM gives you the power to customize that experience.

Be sure to add the contact information for your past clients, friends, family, prospects, strategic partners and referral partners into your CRM. As you add names to your database, categorize them correctly so that you can interact with them appropriately.

Here are a few tips to get the most out of your CRM communications:

1. Don’t assume that just because there is a name in your database that they “know” you. They may know “of” you, based on a fleeting transaction or introduction, and they may have completely forgotten who you are. If you haven’t connected in a meaningful way in the past six months, you need a special script to reconnect, like an apology* script.

2. Deploy multiple types of touches. Don’t rely on email as your only channel for connection. Use video, handwritten notes or a fun giveaway to create differentiation and convey authentic connection.

3. Schedule client appreciation events for your MVPs (Most Valuable People). Quarterly and annual events ensure that you will be face-to-face at least a few times per year. Drive-by events count as a “face-to-face” until things get back to normal.

4. Be consistent. Plan meaningful touches throughout the year. Send birthday cards from you (not your company), post testimonials online endorsing your clients or their business and comment on their social media posts for better engagement.

5. Technology is a tool, not your sole manner of connection. Automation is great, but nothing beats a personal touch. Your CRM will keep you aware of important dates—and alert you to other personal details about pets, kids, their profession, hobbies and interests. Use your CRM to help you become more intentional. Do automate, but not by abdicating the personal touch.

Take time at the end of this year to really connect with your database as you spring into next year.

*For a complimentary copy of an apology script, visit bit.ly/34zflA9.

Terri Murphy is an author, TED Talk speaker and master coach with Workman Success Systems. She is the author of five books and the founder of the Women’s Wisdom Network Facebook Group. Contact her at Terri@TerriMurphy.com.