The Little Things That Matter The Most – Part II

Posted: March 22nd, 2009

Part II: The Phone Call

This is the second post in a three part series of some of the most simple, overlooked things that are important to freelancers. This week, I’ll explain an important building block in the freelancer-client business relationship: the simple phone call.

For starters, it is probably safe to say that the majority of freelancers out there work over the internet. In fact, it is pretty common to never even see the face  nor talk to your clients… ever! Communication is done almost exclusively through email and instant messaging. Sticking to this level of rather impersonal communication right from the start is not a healthy way of building client relationships, though.

Before writing this, I thought about all of my clients that I still have today and all of those “one-hit-wonders” who I did a project for and never heard from again. What I did notice was that for all of those that I still retained, I had talked to them at least one time by phone. I had never talked to the one-hit-wonders at any point. While not talking to a client is probably not the single smoking-gun reason why I was not retained, I did notice that bridging that communication gap with a call was a big part of why I am still retained by some of my other clients today.

All that has to be done is to have a single conversation, by phone or Skype, with any new client before starting any project. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to BS about the weather, sports or look for common ground, but lay down the framework for your business relationship. For instance, explain yourself, methods, deadlines and reassure the client that you can do the job they ask of you. Then ask of their expectations of you (if theydont’ tell you first).

It is also possible that clients have had bad experiences with other freelancers in the past which they will definitely let you know about. This knowledge paves the way for you to fill in where others couldn’t. When the client finally has a trustworthy freelancer in you, that is where a business relationship begins and steady work starts to flow.

One common fear of talking with clients over the phone is that they might continue to call knowing you are always available by phone. The truth is that most clients are busy individuals like freelancers and would rather email or IM in future communications.

What I’ve noticed, too, is that future calls are usually for important matters and the client respects your time and keeps these conversations to a minimum anyway. For the client that does get chatty, however, all that has to be done is politely explain that you are busy and have to keep the calls short, which they normally oblige to.

Taking the one extra step of getting to know your client before you start working with them can prove useful in establishing a long-term relationship. It is not necessary and not a deal breaker, but it is a little step that can go a long way.

See also:

Part I: The Search For Stability
Part III: The Search For Stability

More on the author, Johnny Spence
Johnny is the founder of The Freelance Rant and a freelance web programmer with 8 years in the business. Have a visit at his company Oscarrr!web or see what he's up to on Twitter.

Comments are closed.