4. Remember important events with a personal touch
Today’s digital habits have diluted our relationships. It’s easy to post a birthday message on a client’s Facebook wall or hit like on a post announcing their business milestones and call it a connection.
But even small, thoughtful gestures like a handwritten note or a tin of cookies can make a big impression in this tap-to-like culture.
Good freelancers keep a calendar of important dates and reach out to existing and potential clients when it counts.
Subscribe to your clients’ news feeds and set Google alerts for press releases and news items. Be the first to know when they launch a new project and send a well-earned congratulatory note with an offer to lend a hand with logistics. This shows you’re attentive and could open a door to conversations about future projects. Clients will feel cared for and more likely to remember you when they need a freelancer.
5. Reward loyalty
Use a bonus program to show appreciation for clients who stick with you. Discounts are a popular and easy way to say thanks. It’s also common to offer discounts to clients with a history of paying invoices on time, or to clients who pay up-front for longer contracts. Holiday discounts are another good option.
Referral discounts are another way to reward loyalty — say 10-15% off their next invoice for every new customer sent your way. Show your clients you appreciate them and grow your business at the same time. It’s amazing how this simple practice will prompt happy clients to spread the word about you. It’s one of the easiest ways to build loyalty and expand your business without advertising costs.
6. Set and maintain boundaries
Communicating boundaries at the beginning of a project makes it easier manage client expectations, stick to the services you’re hired for, and avoid dealing with imaginary or always-moving benchmarks.
Here are a few ways to set clear boundaries as a freelancer:
- Write a contract that outlines deliverables and payment terms
- Make sure your invoices are professional and timely (which is a no-brainer with Webflow’s client billing tools)
- Communicate your office hours (avoid weekend emails)
- Respond during those office hours, and not after
- Ask questions and communicate often
- Respect client boundaries – lead by example
Maintaining boundaries around working relationships helps prevent burnout and resentment. Solid communication will help you keep clients happy for years to come!
A good problem to have
As you continue down your freelance path, you’ll find you’re better at implementing some of the above ideas than others. And some will take you far out of your comfort zone! A lot of us struggle with these concepts in our personal lives — it’s normal to find it challenging to apply these ideas to your work.
Frame failure as evidence that you’re trying and an opportunity to do better with the next client. The more you work on these practices, the more habitual they’ll become. And before you know it, building a network of clients and colleagues will no longer be your biggest challenge — you’ll be too busy juggling all the work coming your way!
How do you nurture your professional relationships? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.