As a freelancer, you have to work harder than traditional employees to build effective relationships with the clients that pay your bills. Success depends on how well you establish yourself as a genuine partner rather than a “temporary” service provider.
The following is a look at five of the most critical steps to help you build enduring partnerships with your freelance clients.
Select Ideal Clients
In any type of business relationships, sustained success is dependent on alignment in values, goals and activities. Consider the types of clients and work that you want to live off of in the long run.
When you create or entertain work proposals, think about whether the client meets the criteria that you believe is suitable for the development of a lasting partnership. It is okay to say “No” when you don’t believe a long-term partnership is possible. Doing so allows you to prioritize time and energy on promising endeavors.
Establish Yourself as an Extension of the Business
Partners don’t operate in isolation or treat a client as one of many that pay the bills. Instead, establish yourself as a virtual extension of a partner business by doing your homework and learning everything you can.
Become familiar with the industry, opportunities and challenges that a client faces. The more you know about the client’s business situation, the better able you are to customize your services to align well.
Understand High-Level Critical Business Issues
True partners focus on the high-level critical business issues of a client and its representatives. If you think of the actual work that you perform as being a low-order task, you won’t approach it in a way that causes the client to recognize long-term value.
Become familiar with the high-level goals and issues of your partner and communicate that your services contribute to success.
Communicate Well and Build Trust
A positive partnership without effective communication and trust is an impossible outcome. Establish lines of communication early so that you always understand the expectations and concerns of the client, and client reps always know what to expect from you.
In addition to proper communication, consistent on-time delivery of top-notch work makes you dependable and trustworthy. When a client can trust in the value of your work, you become indispensable.
Make Long-Term Strategic Decisions
A partnership is long-term. To build lasting connections, make decisions with recognition of their strategic importance. In contrast, a lot of freelancers make narrow decisions focused on tasks.
If you think strategically, you sometimes have to sacrifice preference and income in moments to show commitment to clients necessary to a successful partnership.
Over time, the vast majority of income for typical freelancers comes from a small number of long-term clients. Thus, it is imperative that you identify the right strategic partners for your business and implement these steps effectively to achieve enduring, positive client relationships.