There are many great things about freelancing. It gives you the control over your own hours, the people you work with and often, it offers the chance to work from home, saving on time and commuting costs. It sounds like a dream – but with it comes a great responsibility. Keeping your clients happy while telecommuting can be demanding even in the era of smartphones and light speed connections. Luckily, we’ve put together a few tips that can help you communicate smarter.
1. Keep your updates short and constant
Sometimes it’s easier to just get on with work, having faith in your own ability to complete the task before the deadline. Why waste time with updates when you don’t see any trouble on the horizon?
But, it’s important to remember that regular updates about your progress are the best way to ensure their trust. The golden rule all great freelancers follow is always trying to send a short, simple update before someone asks you for one. If you disappear off the radar for too long, you can eventually expect anxious messages doubting your ability to complete work on time – silence leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
The people you work for often face pressure from others; their bosses, customers and other freelancers, so regular updates help them make decisions about planning future expenses and deadlines. It’s also the best way to prevent a small problem from becoming a real issue by reporting it early. This is especially true for long-term projects, but it should be equally valid if you’re working on a small task. Clients need to feel that delegating the work to a freelancer doesn’t take all the control out of their hands.
2. Use more than just one means of communication
Emails are great, and with the added bonus of accessing your mailbox anywhere, it should always be your primary means of professional communication. But even the shortest emails take time to type and things sometimes get lost in context, leaving room for misinterpretation.
When matters are urgent or require a lot of explaining, take advantage of online conference calling sites, phones and other means that fit your business needs best. Letting your clients hear your voice over the phone or video chat helps you get your message across faster and more clearly.
We all know that over fifty percent of communication is non-verbal, so video chatting gives you a far better chance of explaining lengthy or complicated matters to your clients. This is extremely important for freelancers who need to use negotiating skills, because the saying that ‘people type tougher than they talk’ is often true. Discussing a deal while getting someone’s responses back in real-time gives you a lot more feedback on how your ideas are accepted.
3. Work on the way you express yourself
If your relationship with the client is completely remote, you need to make sure that your correspondence is not only professional, but also warm and positive. The fact that your client may not know you as well as their fellow employees at the office is disadvantage for telecommuters.
It’s often the lack of personal contact that causes people in professional relationships with you to have tougher standards for your work or a bad attitude, just because it’s hard for them to imagine a person on the other side of the emails. Making sure that you always come back to them in a polite and friendly way makes them want to spend more time communicating with you, giving you more detailed instructions on how to complete your work and patience when you make a mistake.
All freelancers are different and so are their clients. Discover your own best practices to stay in touch with them, make sure you reflect on good and bad experiences along the way. Smooth communication will boost your freelance prosperity in the future and make your client feel like they’ve done a great job by choosing someone to work remotely.