How to make a good first impression on a potential client
For freelancers, connecting with people can be difficult. However, creating a good first impression will help grow your brand, make a name for yourself, and help you to make money.
With that being said, it’s important to be on top of your game when it comes to standing out to a potential employer.
If you’re unsure where to start or are looking for ways to improve your overall image and approach to new opportunities try starting with things you can influence.
Here are some of our best freelance tips and tricks for landing you that next freelance gig.
Be professional, but be yourself
One issue that many freelancers face is balancing professionalism with showing their true colors. And although it’s important to remember that after all, this a professional affair, you shouldn’t be afraid to open up and establish yourself as a trustworthy and loyal person when you meet a potential client for the first time.
Start by breaking the ice and making small talk beyond business. This helps you to better understand one another, learn what interests them, and how they work best. Freelance gigs can vary in terms of timeframe.
However, no matter the length of your relationship, it is in your best interest to establish a strong relationship right off the bat. Familiarity with each other and setting working expectations will help prevent any speed bumps and ease hardships along the way.
To set yourself apart from other freelance candidates, strive to personalize each interaction you have with a client.
Start by maintaining a component of honesty and sincerity in your work that is unmatched by others. Simple gestures and politeness can truly go a long way.
Research, research, research!
As important as acting the part, is knowing the part, so going into your meeting being knowledgeable about the client’s history and potential goals will surely impress them.
As a freelancer, it should be in your best interest to dig deep into the client’s portfolio in order to provide yourself with some context going into the conversation.
There’s no doubt either that clients will be able to tell if you’ve come unprepared, so don’t even allow that to happen.
If you talk knowledgeably about their business/product it will help prove your legitimacy, and support your ability to perform to the client’s hopes.
Plus, having a baseline of what they’re doing and have done previously helps understand the timeline of what they’re looking to accomplish moving forward.
Similarly, you should do your homework on potential client’s competitors in order to give some good advice about how your work can improve their competitive strategy.
Bringing facts about what their competitors are doing and how they can improve their ways to gain an advantage will turn your clients heads and leave a lasting impression.
Looking your best, directly correlates with feeling your best, so giving your appearance to a potential client shows you’re serious and professional about working on something great.
Start with your clothing, and make sure you balance professionalism with personal comfort. This should not only be a reflection of your personality and your charisma, but also reflect a sense of seriousness and capability.
Try not to wear something out of the ordinary either as it can become visible that you’re doing something that makes you appear uncomfortable.
Packing and traveling for in-person meetings can sometimes be stressful. A great idea is to have a grab-bag of hygiene essentials ready to go at all times.
For men, shaving items and new razors are great to include in case you need to quickly touch up your facial hair look. Harry’s is a brand available both online or in-store for easy access.
Likewise, for women, various beauty products are good things to keep on hand.
Target offers a great household essentials cosmetics bag if you’re looking for a one stop shop. From there, simply fill your grab bag with other small but valuable essentials like deodorant, breath mints, combs, etc.
To compliment your physical appearance, brush up on your body language too:
- Remember to be mindful of your posture as you talk to your potential client.
- Don’t slouch or talk quietly, and make your presence known without being stand-offish.
- Make steady eye contact, keep a smile, and talk sternly to assert your professionalism.
- Get a feel for the conversation, stay strong, and remain confident.
Show yourself off
As you begin a new journey with a potential client, it’s important to prove yourself and think highly enough of yourself to be able to offer a unique proposal to their problem.
And while it’s not meant to be taken as a job interview, rather an open conversation about how you both can mutually benefit, using your portfolio, history, and experiences to help drive the work forward.
Having this information ahead of time and in an organized fashion will display your punctuality and ability to be trusted with the direction of the project.
As part of your “onboarding” try developing an awesome new client welcome packet to show you have a plan of attack for the project and will be able to avoid potential chaos.
When it comes to your history and past clients, don’t be afraid to mention experiences you’ve had that may help you out with the current one.
Showing that past experiences help you deliver quality results and demonstrating your ability to learn and grow will show that your adaptability is perfect for the client.
Don’t gloat, however, use your experiences constructively and only include them if they can be used to help the current project at hand.
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that freelancing is a two-way deal and should be balanced, rather than a one-sided relationship, so doing anything you can to equal out the partnership will make it easier to steer the project forward.
One way to make yourself more included is by bringing intelligent questions to the initial meeting with the client.
Besides the baseline questions such as their goals, budget, strategy, this is where you can earn their confidence. Coming to the table with research and facts that support assertions and suggestions can help lead to early headway..
On the other end, it’s essential to take notes and be a good listener to ensure you can be trusted and handle the situation. Taking diligent notes throughout the conversation not only helps you later to recall key points, but shows your client that you’re actively engaging in the conversation as it’s happening.
Follow up with a thank-you
Like most professional meetings or interactions, it’s essential to follow up after the initial meet-up to thank them for their time. Following up the meeting with an email is always a great gesture and shows you appreciate the opportunity.
Again, showing your humanity and generosity is key to making a freelance-client partnership work.
This same attitude should remain constant if you land the gig. Once your contract expires and the project is completed it’s okay to celebrate and thank your employer for the collaboration.
If mailing them a gift isn’t your cup of tea, a simple email or handwritten letter should do the trick. Being respectful and thanking them can even lead to future employment opportunities, whether it be with that same client of someone else by word of mouth.
You can never underestimate the power of word of mouth recommendation, so always remain positive even when you think people aren’t watching.