As an independent professional, you represent the face of your business on a daily basis and that requires finding ways to keep your clients coming back in order to maintain a steady flow of work. You must always be thinking ahead so gaps in your work don’t turn into gaps in your income.
By building solid relationships with current clients, you can position yourself as their go-to-choice in the future. While providing expert advice and strategic direction can certainly help you land initial projects, you’ll need to create long-term value in order to secure additional projects from current clients. Follow these three tips keep your business on track for future growth.
The fact that you are your entire business makes it extremely important to develop a good working relationship with your clients. If you work with multiple clients at once, make each one feels as though they are your top priority. Just as client projects help your company flourish, remember that you are there to help client businesses succeed as well.
When dealing with clients one-on-one, customer service is key. If you’ve noticed that you aren’t able to keep clients coming back, you may need to re-prioritize the role of customer experience in your business.
The effort you put into each client has to go beyond simply completing tasks and getting to a paycheck. In order to keep them believing that you are the independent professional they need, you have to put in a little something extra. For example, sending a weekly email with top news and tips shows clients that you are aware the latest industry happenings and can apply this knowledge to your work.
While establishing client boundaries is important, there are times when going above and beyond can help your business. Keep limits in place, but be on the lookout for moments when you can go the extra mile.
If you’ve been in the business for years, it can be easy to get stuck with old habits. Instead, consider each client situation individually and don’t be afraid to adjust your work process accordingly. Some clients may really value hands-on access and want to be included in each stage of your process, whereas others may simply prefer a written, detailed weekly summary of what you’ve accomplished.
Remember, communication is key to establishing a trustworthy relationship; talk to your clients to get a feel for what they value most and then incorporate their preferences your workflow. A little bit of thoughtful listening can go far in building respect and appreciation.
As you progress through your current projects, consider ways that you can continue to add value for your clients through future work. Striking up informal conversations throughout the lifecycle of a project is a great way to gain insight into additional needs clients may have.
When you come across a current problem or ongoing issue that a client is having, think through your service offerings to see if you can offer an actionable solution. Then, before approaching the client with your pitch, take some time to put together some different solution options that show why this additional investment would be of value.
In addition to continually selling your services, make sure clients are aware of any certifications you have, additional services you provide, or new techniques that you’ve developed. These are all great reasons to work with you again.
Use a Scope of Work (SOW) to better manage client expectations for your next independent consulting project.
Stay organized, prioritize tasks, and improve client communication with these five project planning tips.