My mum has had the same accountant for over ten years. It’s been so long he’s a household name. By default, I also have the same accountant.
A few years ago I was in his office. During our meeting, I couldn’t help but look at all the shelves stacked with old files and folders. There must have been a couple hundred.
I asked, “What’s with these files?”
He replied, “Some of these are live folders that are decades old, I’m still in the process of transitioning online”.
I was curious, “What’s been your secret?”
Dumbfounded by the idea that he may have a secret, he just rattled off, “I was told early on that the way to manage clients, or anyone in business, is simple: be a professional mate.”
I thought that was gold.
I’ve tried to live by that ever since. The combination of words is critical. It sounds easy, yet it almost always goes pear-shaped.
You either have the uber-professional who is perceived as cold, with no care in the world. Slowly but surely, the recipient gets stale.
Or you get the mate, who includes unnecessary fluff, blurs the boundaries and starts putting x’s at the end of her communications. This is the person who spends half the recipients time discussing their weekend, or worse yet, the weather outside.
The balance is in the middle. Be the professional, be the mate, but never forget the two intertwine with one another. If you struggle to find your balance, always lean more to the professional. Because you can always bring the mate in later. The opposite rarely works.