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Prior to signing on a client, it’s not uncommon to have numerous meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page with the goals and deliverables of a particular project.  What’s equally important is how companies can better succeed in their initiatives while endearing themselves more with customers by becoming immersed in that company’s culture. Doing so not only demonstrates dedication to the partnership, but reveals that service providers are in the know on transactions, people, news, events and more.

At my company, Red Door Interactive, we make it a priority to be more than just an Internet Presence Management firm for our clients. It’s a privilege to represent various well-known brands and we strongly believe that part of being a good business partner and understanding a customer’s mission and ethos is to become a part of who they are. Companies need to be more than just a vendor and should perform more like an extended arm of that organization. Here are some ways to accomplish this goal.

Attend events
It’s important to not only support your client’s online efforts, but offline work as well.  If they’re sponsoring or hosting a reputable event, have a few employees attend and support the cause. This provides a great opportunity to learn more about the customer from outside the office walls. For example, our client, California Avocado Commission, recently participated in the Avocado Festival in Fallbrook and a few Red Door team members were present to show their support and commitment to increasing brand awareness.

Get to know the team
More often than not, the majority of communication between a company and customer occurs over email. While it’s certainly the most convenient and quickest method to exchange information, it lacks the ability to form any real connections when compared to face-to-face interactions. Encourage employees to get to know the clients they work for and put a face with a name. Not only is it nice to form a relationship, but you never know when you’ll need to get information on a project and it’s a sure way to get a faster response if they can identify the person behind the email address.

Follow them on social networks
I’ve made it a rule of thumb to not only track all of our customers on social network sites like Twitter and Facebook, but to follow their employees. It’s an ideal way to learn a little more about their culture and people. In addition, we’re constantly in the loop on any company news and even small pieces of information can serve as great conversation starters the next time paths are crossed.

Subscribe to newsletters and emails
Many companies integrate monthly e-newsletters as part of their marketing strategy and a means to communicate with their audience. While everyone certainly has busy schedules and more than enough on their plates, subscribing to a client’s newsletter serves as another strategy to stay updated on news, as well as provides new reading material.

Meet at their office
Instead of scheduling meetings in the conference room, experience their atmosphere for a change. It’s a great way to observe their office environment and might lend some beneficial tips on how you can work together better.  

Building relationships with customers and understanding who they are, what they do and how they tick is not only necessary in the beginning stages of a partnership, but should be an on-going practice. After all, you never know when you might learn something that could escalate to new developments.

About the author: Reid Carr is president of Red Door Interactive, an Internet Presence Management firm with offices in San Diego and Denver that helps organizations profit from their Web initiatives. Clients include Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp, Petco, Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill and Cricket Communications. Connect with him at