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Dealing with Clients

Magical Clients: Coping with the Disappearing/Reappearing Act

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Sometimes, there’s just nothing you can do when a client disappears. Things can be great for a long time, but then they don’t call you for work. You’re sure they’ve found someone else to complete the projects you used to get, when–poof! The client is back.

That’s cause enough to toss some confetti, because freelancers are often left out of the loop when it comes to working with companies. So if you seem to be cut off from communication or told that nothing new has come up for you to work on, take heart–that client you thought was gone could make a comeback.

Make Your Push, Politely and Professionally, Then Back Off

I’ve blogged about how to let clients know you’re available for work without seeming pushy. After a project wraps up, send a message to thank the client. That opens you up for future communication. After that, an occasional check-in email or phone call (in addition to putting out an e-newsletter to keep your name fresh in their faces) is just about all you can do. You can’t check in every week, because that would be annoying and could make you look desperate.

So if you’re feeling a chill, back off and focus on other things. In the meantime, blow off the steam that has likely built up in your system from being apparently excommunicated. It helps tremendously to help you make peace with a situation and move forward. And it does wonders to ensure you don’t vent or say something cruel about the client in the meantime, which could burn a bridge.

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Networking: Hang Out with Your Clients, Not Just with Your Peers

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As freelancers, we have many ways to interact with our peers to help us keep abreast of new ideas and emerging trends. We network with others like ourselves for moral support, for answers to business questions, and to develop strategies and skills and resources that can make us more successful.

You may belong to online discussion groups, get electronic newsletters and paper journals and magazines, or tune into regular podcasts. Perhaps there is a local group of designers, or writers, or trainers, or whatever your particular line of business may be, and you get together from time to time to share ideas and experiences.

This is an excellent practice, especially as independent freelancers do not have the natural social settings that employees of corporations do. We have to build our own social and professional connections, to assemble sources of ideas that we can draw on to enhance our own businesses.

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Client Presentation Tips for Designers

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Presenting designs to clients is a tricky part of the project cycle. You need to convince the client that your vision is worth following, and there’s a lot at stake. On one side of the outcome spectrum lies helpful feedback and renewed motivation; on the other side there are endless design iterations and versioning nightmares. So how do you consistently land yourself on the better side of the project? The answer is simple: good communication. Moving a project forward without getting bitten later hinges on the ability to state your position clearly as well as listen to feedback from others. Here are some presentation tips that will improve your communication skills and make the design presentation a less harrowing experience.

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