Clienteling is a word for a simple strategy that has been around for a very long time (even though spell check doesn’t recognize it yet!). The word suggests a revival of the “old fashioned” way of doing business: building personal relationships with each client, staying in touch regularly, writing thank you notes, remembering birthdays and family events. The practice made a comeback in the luxury retail sector some years ago, and now, professionals across more lines of retail along with other industries are realizing the value of clienteling and incorporating it into their business model. This disruption in the way to do business is perfectly suited for the way recruiters work with candidates too and is a great way to build your company’s brand and that candidate experience we’re all trying to perfect.

If you think about your own experiences interacting with other businesses that support you, whether personal or professional, you’ll agree – we’re all looking for that great customer experience. This approach operates on that same theme and is disrupting the way people do business across the spectrum. To think, it all harkens back to the “good ol’ days!”

It starts with the little things. We all keep notes on the candidates we speak with, but let’s start to take things a little further and really get to know a candidate and keep a record of everything you learn about them, in both the business and the personal realms. It will become impossible to track the valuable information you are learning about your candidate without keeping a diary of sorts, so organization is key. With each contact, refer back to this information and use what you have learned to inform your approach. You can do things as simple as sharing an article you know they would be interested in or sending a handwritten note with a gift card for sharing a ‘virtual’ coffee if you can’t meet them face-to-face. If things don’t work out, send a handwritten note to say thank you for their time. These random acts of kindness go a long way in keeping your candidates feeling connected and engaged with your brand.

The key is to always maintain good, consistent communication. It can become difficult to stay in touch with a long list of contacts, but a few minutes spent writing a nice note or on a quick phone call just to say ‘Hi!’ can pay off tremendously down the road. Reliable, concise and pleasant communication is the key to successful clienteling.

While clienteling is not an unestablished strategy, there are many ways to do it well. Do not be afraid to try new things and disrupt the way that you have been working. Branching out and attempting new and different methods can be critical in finding new ways to maintain candidate relationships in a manner that suits you. Again, record-keeping is critical here. Track your ideas, attempts and outcomes in order to avoid making the same mistakes.

Implementing clienteling into your practice requires effort and is not always easy, but it is well worth it. Not only will you increase candidate engagement and loyalty, you will also find that you’ve developed more satisfying relationships that really last. The most important difference will be in knowing you are one step ahead of your competition!