So, you’ve decided to be a freelancer, and you’ve successfully acquired your first set of clients. You were able to negotiate the payment rate that you want, and you’ve worked on a contract and terms of conditions that detail the responsibilities of both parties. Give yourself a pat on the back, you’re well on the way to independence.
Of course, things don’t stop at this point. Successfully closing a deal doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be plain sailing for you from here on in. You’re just about to get on with some real work, so it would be good to learn a few pointers on how you can forge long-term relationships with the people you’ll be working with. Here are 3 important ones that you can keep in mind.
Learn to communicate better
One of the most important things that you can do to improve your career is to learn how to communicate more effectively. This doesn’t simply mean working on your grammar or knowing how to compose business emails and letters. It also means being completely professional with the way you interact with your clients. For instance, you should respond promptly and politely to all business communication and make yourself available when your clients need you.
Furthermore, you should also know how to respond appropriately when your work is criticized or when your client offers suggestions. Respect your client’s opinions because you don’t have creative monopoly on the projects you are working on, and frankly, you also don’t know everything.
Nevertheless, always remember that you, too, have the right to be respected, and you need to be able to speak your mind. Ideally, both sides should aim to be assertive instead of being aggressive, and that means you and your client should be able to express your thoughts and feelings without being disrespectful to the other. For further reading, check out this great guide on how to communicate more assertively as a freelancer or a creative professional.
Manage your time well and respect all deadlines
One of the most common reasons given by people when they are asked why they want to become a freelancer is that they want to do things at their own pace. Sure, it’s wonderful to think of a working environment where you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck every minute and you get to do things according to timeframes you set for yourself. However, make no mistake—deadlines are as important when you are freelancing as when you are employed by a company.
Take deadlines seriously because every missed one reflects on your professionalism or lack thereof. Furthermore, constantly missing your deadlines may cause your clients to consider not paying you at all, or they may even get rid of you as a service provider. You can’t expect people to trust you if you can’t even trust yourself with your own goals.
Deliver more than is expected of you
Sure, your client will appreciate you getting your work in on time and exactly as expected, but do them a favor by going the extra mile. Produce something additional for them, or share your knowledge on something that you think can bring added value to their business. Doing them a little favor from time to time can help you build a reputation for being a caring and reliable partner in business. It’s a simple gesture that can go a long way and translate to benefits in the form positive reviews and future client referrals.
Remember that building strong ties with clients relies on constantly delivering good results while giving them incentives to continue working with you. When you’re sincere in your goal of helping them improve their business, you can expect to your clients to reciprocate by bring you more business as well.