Entertaining clients and referral sources will not, by itself, result in new client work or a new matter. However, taking a client out to a ballgame or to the opera can enhance a relationship and help build a friendship. It can also help maintain long-term clients and referrals.
As I was searching for a blog idea, I ran across yesterday’s "meditation" by Richard S. Levick and Larry Smith of Levick Strategic Communications from their little handbook entitled 365 Marketing Meditations: Daily Lessons For Marketing & Communications Professionals. It reads:
"Do not count on entertaining clients as a way to get their business. That is only a first step. Some executives go out of their way not to hire people who take them to ballgames."
I have no personal knowledge that executives would resent being entertained, but I can see that it is possible, without a pre-existing relationship of some sort, that such an invitation may be taken the wrong way. And I’m not sure that entertaining is necessarily the "first" step, when in fact it could be the 10th; but, the overall message is valid.
We need to keep in mind that we are in the relationship building business, and that entertaining is just one tool in developing business from clients and referral sources. But standing alone, it isn’t enough.