As a freelancer, there is nothing more frustrating than having a great meeting with a potential client then putting in the effort on a business proposal, only to hear nothing back. This was something I faced when I first started my business a few years ago.
A freelancer friend of mine blamed the potential clients for such scenarios. While in some cases, yes, it would be nice if the client wrote back so that the freelancer is not left hanging, there are some tactics freelancers can take to avoid this.
Let us examine some scenarios together.
First, do you have a website or a portfolio of work that can be found online? Before a potential client makes a decision to work with you or not, they check out your profile online. They look for your biography, samples of your work and to see if others have written anything about you. They also search for you on social media to get a glimpse of any work you shared, or to understand your work ethics. For some tech-savvy individuals, your absence on social media may seem backward.
Here is what you should be doing. If you want to be perceived as a professional, then act like one. Build a website and register your business domain. You do not need to spend big money on it. WordPress, Wix and Blogspot offer professional template packages either for free or at very low rates, and you could have your website up and running within a day. Make sure to include your bio, a contact page, and ensure your website is mobile-adaptable as many will search for you via their phones and tablet devices.
Secondly, potential clients will be looking for samples of your work. Before they commit themselves, they need to see what they are getting in return, its quality and if it matches their taste. Having a portfolio of your work ready allows them to rate your work, reduces the time spent negotiating fees and helps to convince them to choose you for the job. Again, here is where your website can come in handy. Include a page highlighting your past projects. If you are just starting out as a freelancer, you could create samples of your work. For instance, if you are a writer then share sample articles on different topics, or if you are a graphic designer provide some logo or flyer designs and website templates.
Thirdly, are you highlighting the clients you have already worked with or what they have to say about you? While there can be confidentiality issues when it comes to discussing intricate details of a business you have previously collaborated with, you can still mention that you have worked with companies x, y and z. I suggest including your previous list of clients in your portfolio and also on your website. For some businesses, it’s also good to share your clients’ testimonials. Doing so builds your credibility and could sway a potential client’s decision to work with you, especially if the recommendations came from reputable clients or individuals they look up to.
Last but not least, perhaps you are not selling what sets you apart. Lots of companies offer similar services and products, but what makes one business stand out over another is its values. Analyse whether your meetings focused too much on the product, rather than the value a client will receive by working with you. Show them that by choosing your services they will save time or money, or both. Show them how your service or product could attract more customers. Most importantly show them your distinctive factor and why they should work with you and not someone else.
Bottom line: ensure that you are present online and people can search for you and your work. Share your work, who you worked with, and what they have to say about you, and most importantly, flaunt your individuality.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.
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