More and more people are working as freelancers or independent contractors. As a freelancer, the onus is on you to impress prospective clients. There’s no relying on someone else, or a separate business division, to negotiate rates, terms and deadlines.
The problem is that many of us are terrified of the human component of doing business. So if you’re more comfortable toiling away in the background, how do you secure a sustained supply of work?
For starters, you have to make a great first impression. Dressing appropriately, looking neat and tidy, and arriving at exactly the right time for appointments shows you’re reliable and serious about sealing a deal.
If you want to attract new business, and get referrals and more work from your existing clients, you can also use specific strategies to ensure you stand out from the competition.
Before setting up a meeting, get acquainted with the client. Find out as much as you can about the business, the industry and the client’s main competitors.
The more you know about your client, the easier it is to convince them that you’re the right person for the job.
Use a business-oriented meeting place
Avoid setting up meetings at your home or the corner coffee shop. It can be distracting and noisy. Rather opt for a more business-oriented approach.
These days, you can hire serviced offices and co-working spaces on an ad hoc basis. The best providers of shared office space in South Africa offer access to fully equipped meeting rooms or board rooms as part of the package.
Along with a central location and upmarket business address, you’ll have the benefit of core business support services, high speed fibre, tea and coffee making facilities and secure parking.
Bond on a personal level
Take the time to get to know your clients on a personal level. Chat to them about their hobbies, families and their favourite holiday destinations.
When you click with your clients, the odds of getting regular work from them are so much better.
Present an “about you” pack
Present your clients with an ‘about you ‘pack. It can be in the form of a printed document, an email attachment or flash drive.
Outline the services you offer, the processes you use to achieve set goals and the kind of projects you specialise in. Specify the rates you charge, and the estimated delivery times based on the volume or complexity of the work required to complete a project.
Ensure the pack is professionally put together, and in a format that’s easy to store, share and retrieve. An ‘about you’ pack not only provides your clients with pertinent information, it’s a strong indication you’re organised, efficient and well-prepared.
Take notes and ask questions
Always be optimally engaged when meeting a client. Make direct eye contact, ask questions and jot down important points. If you’re not clear about something, ask them to repeat what they’ve said.
Turn your phone off or onto silent mode for the duration of the meeting – it’s the respectful thing to do. When you’re fully engaged, you’ll come across as focussed, reliable and someone who can be trusted to get the job done.
Never miss a deadline
Meeting deadlines is the one rule freelancers simply cannot afford to break, even if it means working through the night.
If you really can’t submit the project by the agreed date, communicate that fact to the client as early as possible. Explain exactly what’s causing the delay and, if it’s a plausible excuse, you may survive to work another day.
Convey your thanks
Remember to thank your clients for their support. It’s good manners, and you’ll probably be the first name that pops into their heads when they need a skilled freelancer again!
Office space and meeting rooms for impressing your clients
All our members also have access to professionally appointed meeting rooms and boardrooms – ideal for impressing clients.