I think this guest post has a number of useful suggestions for freelancers. Treating your clients right and impressing them doesn’t have to mean shiny offices and expensive dinners. In the end, it’s your personality and the quality of your work that matters.
When you’re trying to network, spoil your clients, and be a part of the scene you’re desperately trying to break into, how are you supposed to keep up with corporate expense accounts and heiress-worthy credit card limits? Even if your clients aren’t making millions of dollars themselves, lunch dates, bonuses and holiday gifts or parties can hurt what little profits you’ve worked so hard to achieve. If you’re struggling to find the balance between investing in your clients’ loyalty and actually paying your bills, check out this guide to living large on a freelancer’s budget.
- Take them to lunch or drinks, not dinner: Lunch dates and drink dates are completely appropriate when you want to network with new contacts or take a client out to celebrate or discuss a project. Besides being able to incorporate these meetings into the regular work day and work week, you’ll get specials on drinks, appetizers, desserts or anything else that’s just for the lunch or happy hour crowd.
- Print free cards: When you want to give your clients a personal touch by sending out thank you cards, holiday greetings or announcements, use a printer’s free sample offer, even if it means you can’t send them to everyone on your contacts list. [Mrs. Micah’s note: you can also find deals on places like fatwallet.com to save money on getting business cards printed.]
- Always keep in touch. Chances are, your existing clients are more concerned with the quality of their project and deadlines rather than expensive dinners or parties. Make it a priority to keep them updated while you work on their project, and in between jobs, send e-mails or notes to let them know you still valuable your relationship.
- Leave room in your budget for extra expenses: Just as big companies have expense account budgets, you should try to put a little of your extra profits into a pool that’s just for networking purposes. And remember that what you spend for business is also tax deductible.
- Find new places to take clients. Before a restaurant or bar has gotten a reputation as a “cheap” or “budget-friendly” place, take your clients. You’ll look like you know all the cool, new places to hang out, giving you more credit as a cutting edge individual.
- Don’t talk about money: Don’t order the cheapest thing on the menu, and don’t say a word about the prices. The last thing you want your clients to think is that you’re stingy and okay with cutting corners.
This post was contributed by Sarah Russel, who writes about the graduate degree. She welcomes your feedback at SarahRussel1234 at gmail.com