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Amsterdam - good cheescake hunting

Amsterdam – good cheescake hunting

I’ve been to Amsterdam and Paris this past week. Planes, trains and automobiles, and trams and metros were all used. And despite being an intense 48 hours they were pretty productive too – albeit I managed to find time for a walk along Amsterdam’s canals, and a coffee and a cheesecake for good measure.

I flew to Amsterdam then later that day took the train across to Paris. Reflecting on the last couple of days, what struck me is how important it is to go and see your clients in their own offices. Phone and video-conferencing are fine as are meetings in your own office, and catching a coffee when you happen to cross paths at some conference or another is a bonus, but nothing beats seeing people where they actually live and work.

People are simply more relaxed, open and honest when they are in their home environment. And from a work perspective, I think it shows that you’re committed to the client and interested in finding out more about them.

I didn’t have to go to Amsterdam. There was no agenda and no pressing work matter but I’m glad I did as the visit has opened up a potentially whole new area of work. But I was also able to find out a lot more about the organisation I’ve been working for, its needs and how it wants to resolve some of the issues it currently faces.

And perhaps more significantly, I really enjoyed spending time with the people there; swapping stories, photographs of our kids, and basically bonding on a human level. Including finding out about the less rosy side of life some people currently have to deal with.

I had to go to Paris for a client event but while there I also made some interesting new contacts and out of which I’ve been asked to follow-up on something, an issue which came up during a taxi ride conversation. I’ve a meeting booked in London later this month to find out more.

Of course you don’t have to be friends with those you work with so perhaps I’m lucky in that I like all my key clients, and the more I get to know them the more I like them. So ultimately, the last few days have reinforced to me the importance of relationships – building them and nurturing them.

I strongly believe that you have to show the love, to demonstrate that you’re interested in your client – the organisation and the people – and that you will be there even when the phone hasn’t rung for a while or the clock isn’t ticking.

My trip has produced two new opportunities, neither of which I would have known about or been considered for had I not been there to get in that taxi, or said I’d like to pop across to Amsterdam for a coffee and bagel.

I’ll keep you posted on what becomes. But in the meanwhile if you find yourself walking along Amsterdam’s canals and in need of some cheesecake, you can do worse than stop here

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