As a freelancer, you need to make sure clients are at ease when working with you and you build an lasting business relationship
As a freelancer, when you start working for a client, they know very little about you from the proposal. If clients are eager, they may have done some research about you and your company and may know little more about your online presence and on social media.
There has to be a fear of the unknown among clients when hiring a freelancer. Freelancing sites make it easy for them to rely on freelancers, but still, there was some element of doubt for sure.
As a freelancer, you need to make sure the client is at ease when he starts working with you, and you should look to build an everlasting relationship.
Relationships with existing clients can help you with a lot of repeat business and referrals. The best business comes from them.
So here are nine ways to build everlasting business relationships with clients:
1. Better Communication
Communication is the most crucial aspect of building any relationship. Faster turnaround time is the first step towards better communication with clients.
If you aren’t communicating faster, you won’t be able to build a good relationship. The client should feel you while working and available for their project.
Timely, efficient, honest, and transparent communication should be the topmost priority of a freelancer.
2. Positive Attitude
Clients may always be right, but if you don’t agree and align with their thinking, it is better to take a back seat instead of taking a negative approach to work.
A negative attitude will never do any good to anyone, and so if you don’t agree with a client, it is always better to say no to a client that to do the work with negativity.
3. Under Promise Over Deliver
The most efficient way to nurture a relationship – under-promise and deliver beyond what the client may expect out of you.
There is nothing more powerful than exceeding the client’s expectations when building relationships.
4. Open to Suggestions
You are the tech guy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take suggestions.
Your client may have more experience with something that you may not be aware of. So it is always better to be open to suggestions.
You shouldn’t be rigid about what you want to offer to the client and are open to hearing them out and even take suggestions.
5. Patience and Perseverance
Rome wasn’t built in a day and will never be. So is the relationship. It needs a lot of time and effort.
Patience and perseverance is the key to building a long-lasting relationship.
Some clients will always be skeptical. It is better to move on with them at the earliest.
Let me share the story of one of my clients.
I usually don’t ask for any advance payment for my direct clients for tasks under $500—one of my clients where I worked for a few such tasks in a few months.
In the next task, I quoted a price, and the client agreed on it. It was again a small task, but I needed money at that moment, so I asked him for an advance. The client insisted he can’t make a payment for personal reasons. Though he didn’t share the exact cause, I sensed he wasn’t comfortable paying an advance.
It was the last job I did for the client because if the client isn’t able to trust you, there isn’t a point investing in building the relationship further.
So patience and perseverance is the key but invests the time and energy with the right kind of people.
6. Treat Every Client as an Important one
The importance of the client shouldn’t be based on the current amount of project currently being worked on.
Treat every client as the only client you have. Soon you will start to treat them as the most important client.
Often large clients may move on, and small clients may have a large project in the pipeline.
So don’t decide the importance of a client based on the current project’s budget. It won’t help much in building an everlasting business relationship.
7. Be Personal
Don’t be all about formal communication all the time. Add some elements of personal discussions as and when possible.
Congratulating the client on their achievements or just wishing them on birthdays. Be personal.
Still, don’t forget the work for the client is the essential aspect of building a relationship. The personal connection isn’t a substitute for a great job, but good quality work with interpersonal communication can do wonders towards building a relationship.
8. Respect the Time
In India, we have a terrible habit of being late for a meeting. If you want to be a freelancer dealing with foreign clients, the practice has to change.
Try to be on time for a meeting and don’t use the excuses of the timezone. Instead, use the time.is to know the right time in any timezone of the world.
Being on time for a meeting is essential, but more important is not to miss a deadline for deliverables.
If you can respect time, it will help the client to trust you for critical projects where price becomes secondary.
9. Build Trust
The most crucial factor in building an everlasting business relationship is – trust. Create an environment where you can trust your client and vice versa.
Remember the rule I have for projects of under $500 where I don’t ask for any advance from clients?
It is an effort on my part to build trust.
Direct clients want to start small, and slowly over time, they work their way up. The advance amount will be $250 at the most, but once the client has sent you the first payment, he will be eagerly waiting for your emails for deliverables.
It means no matter how fast you get it done, you aren’t able to under-promise and over-deliver.
Now consider a situation where the client hasn’t paid anything, and you just deliver. It acts as a pleasant surprise because seldom freelancers do it this way.
It can be seen as a way to lose money, but you have to believe me; it has worked well. Some clients may want to rip you off, but it means you are keeping such clients away right after the first task.