Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Being a freelance web developer, I rely very heavily on my personal and business connections and relationships, and odds are that you do too. Having a lot of connections and/or references and friends “in the business” can be extremely helpful to anyone, but it’s really what and how you interact with these people that makes all the difference. Today, we’ll have a look at some of the strategies one may use to increase the success of their company and/or business as well as their productivity.
Making a Great First Impression
Oh how cliche it is, “first impressions are everything”. We all know its true, our first impressions we make with a perspective client will make all the difference down the road? But in todays world, where people don’t always meet face to face, how does one ensure a great first impression? There are a few tools and tricks to ensure your success.
The First 30 Seconds
You’ve got about 30 seconds (maybe less) to make a great impression on this person. How do you look? Is it appropriate? A pin-stripe suit might be overkill for a simple discussion over lunch. What is the first thing you do? A confident smile and firm greeting say a lot about yourself. Now, do you take the time to ask them some questions about themselves? People want to feel as if what they have to say is important, take some time and have some good ol’ small talk with them. Ask if they’ve eaten or how their day has been. It is the small things like this that make all the difference later.
The Next Five Minutes
So you’ve had a nice little talk and ordered a iced mocha latte or your other favorite over priced drink, and now what? Do you have a plan? A great thing to do before meeting with any potential client/customer/connection is to draw out key points you would like to discuss that day. Make a flow chart of which topics you would like to discuss, and how you will react if it does (or doesn’t) go as planned. Having points and topics in your head before meeting gives speaks highly of your confidence and vision, as you will come off with a person with a plan.
Honesty is Key
Our story continues, and your now in the very thick of the meeting, and its your time to shine, your time to prove that your up to the task. So how do you prove it? Most importantly, be realistic. Do not make promises you cant keep. People like it when they feel others are on the same field as them and are being honest with them, tell your client any reservations you may have. Let them know of any possible pitfalls, and more importantly, let them know your plan to handle the situation should it arise. In addition, its OK to be the expert! You’ve worked damn hard and spent years (most likely) doing what you do, so let them know! Theres absolutely nothing wrong with sharing your expertise, just try not to come off as boasting or egocentric.
Get Out That Card!
Odds are you have a business card. Who doesn’t? However, the odds that your client will remember and hold on to your card is not as high. Quite frankly, a piece of paper with your name and number on it just isn’t enough anymore. Get creative! Make them remember you by your card, after all, that card represents your entire business and reputation. There are plenty of resources for getting creative with your cards, check out some of these if you need some ideas:
As I noted in my previous post, Mistakes I’ve Made as a Freelancer , email is fantastic but also impersonable. Just because email, skype, and similar styles of communication are convenient, doesnt mean your client wishes to sent in front of the computer checking email all day. Do you ask your clients/acquaintances how they prefer to be contacted? It might be worth the extra phone call or lunch meeting, if it means you land the job.
Ah yes, the one you all knew would be on the list. Online Social Networking. The phrase itself is almost cliche even now. For the sake of this article, I will only cover a few of what I believe to be the most important factors when it comes to social networking and communicating with you clients socially online.
Do NOT get on every social networking site that exists
I can’t tell you the amount of times I have heard a businessman or woman talk about their myspace page in relations to business. It’s really hard not to laugh. Dont get me wrong, there are some fantastic sites out there for social networking, such as LinkedIn.com , but you have to be careful. Nothing screams unprofessionalism like a 45 year old respected businessman with his own myspace, facebook, and friendster accounts trying to promote his business.
Can your clients get in touch with you quickly if they need to? If they send you an email, can they expect a prompt response? Clients and future customers feel secure in knowing that if they need help, its right around the corner. Join Skype and let them know your skype idea so they can immediatley contact you. Skype is fantastic for businesses and people that work from home, I highly encourage checking it out if you do not use it already. Let them know your email, and even more importantly, check it often and reply quickly!
What do you do?
What are some of your tips? How do you use your relationships and connections to increase your success? Do you find yourself using any of the techniques above (or do you disagree with any)? Let us know what you think!