Building a strong client relationship goes beyond what’s written in your contract. You want to create a relationship where your clients don’t just feel like colleagues, but instead, they feel like partners.
Freelancers depend on their clients for business, so it’s important to keep building and growing those relationships over time. Remember, a strong client relationship can lead to bigger and better projects, and possibly even referrals in the future (the biggest compliment from a client). To wow your clients and create more meaningful relationships, follow these top tips.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: freelancing = communicating. It’s so important to learn how to communicate clearly and directly with clients, as much of your relationship takes place over the phone or online.
It’s essential to be available to your client and communicate in a timely manner. I’m not saying you need to respond within the first five minutes, but be sure to do so within a reasonable timeframe, especially with new clients. It shows them that you care about the work and you value them as a client.
You want each client to feel like they’re important and at the top of your list (even if that’s not always the case for the day). Remember, it’s always better to over-communicate than under-communicate to ensure nothing is ever missed. If communication isn’t your natural forte, read up on the four communication styles to start building your skills.
Set Regular Check-Ins
When I say “regular” check-ins, I don’t mean every day. You decide what’s best for you and your client, but it’s important to check in with them every so often to be sure you’re on the same page. During these check-ins, you can ask any questions you might have and give them updates on projects or upcoming deadlines. These check-ins don’t have to be long. They can just be a few minutes, but it’s still a good way to build trust with your clients and keep them up to date on everything you’re working on.
Consistency is something that goes a long way with having a great client relationship. Having consistent communication and quality of work are what clients are hoping for. They want to know that they can depend on you and rely on your ability to help accomplish their goals.
Exude Confidence and Positivity
As a freelancer, you’re a one-person show, so you’ve got a lot on your plate. I understand you might be stressed or overwhelmed with your various responsibilities, but it’s important you show a positive face to your clients.
Clients want to work with people they like and who they feel are confident about their work. Be sure to exude the same positivity and confidence that you want clients to feel about your work. Remember, a little positivity can go a long way. You never want a client remembering you as “difficult to work with” or “unhappy and stressed,” so don’t give them a reason to.
Before you even kick off a new client, you’re showing them how you respond, interact, and engage. It’s important to start building trust with them before they’re a client and maintain the same level of responsiveness.
You can build trust with your clients by continually delivering projects on time, doing exceptional work, and communicating effectively and clearly, but you can also build trust by acknowledging your client as a person. Obviously, how you interact with a client depends on your profession, field, and personality, but I encourage you to get to know them a little better. Don’t be afraid to ask them how they’re doing outside of work.
Sometimes we all get a little too wrapped up in our work lives, so clients really appreciate it when you get to know them on a deeper, more personal level. If you feel like your client wouldn’t respond well to a more authentic relationship, then, of course, you do what you think is best! Over time it’s natural for client relationships to evolve and you’re able to help steer that connection.
The best way you can build a lasting relationship with your clients is to continually exceed expectations. Your client is paying you to do a job, so the better you perform it, the more they will want to keep working with you. If you get results for them, they will be more likely to continue the relationship and possibly even write you a referral or testimonial.
Another way to exceed expectations is to go above and beyond. If you’re giving your client a deliverable, maybe try to present it in an aesthetically pleasing way or give them a brief tutorial on the finished product. Anytime you can put a tiny bit of extra effort in, I encourage you to do so. Your client will remember all those little details and will see you as a trusted partner and collaborator that they want to continue to work with in the future.
Manage Expectations if There Are Slowdowns
Everyone goes through hard times. Whether this is challenging life events, getting sick, or burning out, we’ve all been there. If you find yourself in one of these times and see your work begin to slack, have a conversation with your client.
You’re able to inform your client that there is a lot going on and you’re going to need to delay your deliverable or take off a week, whatever the ask is. If you communicate ahead of time and keep in mind their needs, you’re in a better place to strengthen the relationship from the challenging event, rather than making it detrimental to your relationship.
Show Gratitude and Appreciation
If your client sends you a referral, take the time to say thank you. This can be sending a letter, or sending an email, but knowing that they made a difference and are helping you move forward is incredibly valuable. Thank yous don’t have to be just around referrals or testimonials but can be for understanding when there are delays on the project, or for being a consistent client where you’ve been able to work together and grow.
Taking Time to Develop and Maintain Relationships with Clients
Remember, your clients can mean the difference between a flourishing business and a failing business. It’s essential that you learn how to create meaningful and lasting relationships with them, and continue to grow those relationships over time!