Sure, that person you’re working for on your new project is someone you should consider a “client.” But wouldn’t it be even better if you could consider them a “partner”—someone you’re working WITH to get to the end goal, and not just working FOR?
Here are five tips that can help you establish that partnership.
Prepare for the best kickoff ever!
The beginning of a new project can be a very exciting time—as long as you allow it to be. Instead of focusing on the behemoth project ahead, think of each review and iteration as the completion of a mini-project. Even when the project isn’t finalized, getting to that next step is something to be celebrated—and to look forward to.
Having an earlier end in sight can help you hold on to that pre-project excitement along the way. Also, make sure that both you and your client have the same ideas about what’s expected from the beginning. Have them fill out a creative brief and take the time to walk through it together to make sure you’re on the same page.
Work the way you like to work...
Let the client know that you’re a team player. Ask them about their likes and dislikes in working with freelancers in the past. Also ask them how often they would like you to check in and through which channels.
Some clients might prefer an email with a bulleted list of any roadblocks you might be coming across. Others might prefer you shoot them a message asking for a quick conversation to work through it.
... But let them know if there’s a better way
While it is important to blend in with your client’s way of working and to deliver on what’s expected, it’s also good to remember that they brought you on board for your expertise. If you truly believe you have a better process or idea that can help the project go more smoothly, it’s good to let them know about it.
But do tread carefully. You don’t want to disparage either a process or idea that might have come from the person you are reporting to. You also don’t want to come across as a “know-it-all” who has something to say about every little aspect of the project.
Make it easier for them to work with you
Anything you can do to simplify their experience in working with you will likely be appreciated. If you know that they want to regularly be kept in the loop on your progress, why not send them a weekly email with updates that they can plan on? That way they don’t feel like they have to remember to check in.
Ask for feedback at the end of the project
It’s not always an easy conversation to have, but having an idea of their likes and dislikes of working with you, as well as any insights of how to make things better, will help you improve how you work with them in the future. And it could give you ideas on how to improve working with other clients, as well. If you’re uncomfortable with having a conversation, create a survey that will get you the answers you need in order to improve.
Just by asking them their thoughts, you are expressing to them that you are here to listen, that you value them as a client and that you are open to improvements.