I recently posted some advice for freelancers seeking their dream client.
I've been teaching on this for years. I'm sharing my answer here.
When going after dream clients,
your mindset opens or closes doors
before you walk into the room.
Don't turn a client's business
into your entertainment - a laundry list
of what pleases and displeases you.
Your job isn't just making it work
with sales - it's making it work inside the client's business.
The client is a fellow dreamer with everything to lose.
She bet her life on that business.
You're driving a race car with her logo on it.
but if you smash the car in the wall, you can walk away.
You can blog about being bored
and how the "client never really understood you."
The business owner has to live with that car.
Her family has dinner talking about that car.
Her kids’ well being are tied to that car’s fortunes.
There are plenty of heartfelt pleas
to think about the avatar.
Love the customer.
And I agree 100%.
But that's just one part.
Without the business owner
funding the endeavor,
and putting her reputation
and sometimes all her faith
in a freelancer she may have just met,
there is no race.
If you only stand on your results
without caring about the client
(and the two can be mutually exclusive),
you stand in a long line.
You are easily replaceable.
Clients count down the days
until they can get rid of
self absorbed people
who only care about themselves.
If you stand as someone who cares deeply
about those you work with,
you are one of a kind.
If the meter is always on with you,
you're a face in the crowd.
Look at all the mission statements of big companies online.
They all sound great.
How many do you actually believe?
Tens of thousands of people get married
and pledge their lives to each other.
There were over 800,000 divorces in the US for 2017.
Compare their wedding vows
to your big promises.
If business owners
had all their needs already met,
freelancers wouldn’t exist.
That is your opening
and that is your danger.
The irony is that freelancers go on their own
to escape the big machine telling them what to do,
But many(not all) become the big machine they so despise.
They don't worry about their clients
past their paycheck
out of fear of giving too much.
They openly complain
and mock the people paying them.
Some of the clients they mock
were the very first people to give them a chance.
They frequently leave clients
in a fog of drama.
And surprise surprise,
they just keep running
into the same client problems
year after year.
It's always a "misunderstanding."
If you're unhappy,
have the tough conversation.
But don't sulk in silence.
And don't gossip in private
because you're too scared
to have a conversation.
They can't fix what you won’t talk about.
And if they can't or won't fix it, don't just sulk.
Chase down your business relationship mistakes
as eagerly as you track your clicks and conversions.
That includes areas where you may have hurt someone's feelings
or didn't thank someone. Ignore that at your peril.
I hear lots of complaints about how clients don't listen.
That's a two way street.
If you have even a single week
where you're not kicking yourself
over at least one conversation
where you could have listened better to a client,
thanked someone or encouraged more,
you're missing a lot.
I find things I missed daily
in my conversations, listening
and I teach this! lol
There is no iPhone app that will warn you:
"Client partner is mad - you ignored his email."
But you'll get the message loud and clear
when your check "must have gotten lost."
If most or all "misunderstandings"
have you as the hero
and the client/customers as the villain,
there's a problem.
Let me go in a seemingly unrelated direction.
If a prospective qualified client comes to you
with a problem in your field of expertise,
the sky's the limit!
You'll rattle off all the ways you can help
and the proposal almost writes itself.
In selling, you know that you have to try things from multiple angles.
You present proof, you offer persuasion from emotional and practical angles.
You also connect with the prospect in multiple ways. Yes?
You don't just send one note and cross your fingers do you?
There's direct mail, PPC, SEO, Facebook,
Instagram, Twitter, email auto responders, retargeting,
business associations, referrals, trade shows, etc.
If you're willing to connect with the client's prospect
across every channel financially and tactically available,
be willing to make that same relentless effort
to connect with the client you share the trenches with.
Because if clients are just money to you,
you're just a worker to them.
That is not to be confused
with managing your time and money wisely
which is a basic skill everyone needs.
I watch over people paid or not
like they're family.
People tell me who they are
by their actions - not their words.
I can either count on you or I can't.
Think of the irony in the marketplace.
You have people droning on and on
about ratios of content to selling.
"Give a lot of value to the prospect."
You go to their blog and every nice comment
Is met by their smiling face commenting back – oh thank you so much!
But some of these same people become
Ebenezer Scrooge when it comes
to being generous with clients.
Clients are the one group
who actually pay you with money.
Not Facebook Likes
Or Trident Gum.
They deserve that same gracious treatment at all times.
Regarding boundaries, I’ve helped write indemnity and
arbitration clauses into contracts with lawyers.
But if a contract is the only thing
that keeps either side from taking advantage,
you shouldn’t be working with that person.
Talk to someone who loves you for one minute.
Everyone has one minute.
You can feel the difference
in the first words they say.
If it's "just business" to you,
you will be like the big machine,
only caring about the bottom line
and not "wasting" time.
Except you won't have
any of their advantages,
like money to burn,
and a foothold in the marketplace.
If it's "just business" to you,
you'll have all of the big machine's
weaknesses, impatience and impersonal manner
which some wear as a badge of honor.
And in doing so,
you will squander the one thing
that could set you apart from everyone else.
What is that one thing?
You care more than anyone
and you're willing to give it all.
Wait - what?
Give it ALL???
"Hey - I was just asking
about how to get clients!" lol
Just the phrase "willing to give it all"
actually scares some people.
It is a competitive advantage
that can be matched but never bested.
And that's why I say choose areas and people you love.
You may not know what you love right away,
but you probably have a good idea.
It goes without saying that you need to manage your time
and not give so much you fall behind elsewhere.
So when I say give it all, I don't mean become a doormat.
Be as generous with people
as you would like them to be with you.
You'll be a lot more careful in who you work with.
If you make this all about you,
you will have problems.
The very nature of business
involves more than one person.
But if it’s only a transaction,
connections will be hard to maintain.
in neglected spaces.
Some people have a strategy of
"how can I get the most
and give the least?"
As someone who competes,
I want to say:
Don't change a thing! lol
But as someone who cares,
I'll leave you with this last bit of advice:
Don't just write
on your website.
You won't just find
dream clients that way.
They'll find you.
Hope that helps,