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The Working Day

How to Juggle Clients in Different Countries

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The web allows us to offer our services and skills almost anywhere in the world. Many of us are able to speak more than one language and have already worked for clients overseas.

As a freelancing web designer who is currently in the process of moving from Germany, where I was born, to Melbourne in Australia (Good city, that. — Ed.), I’ve been able to establish a client base in both countries. Over the last 6 years I’ve been flying back and forth visiting friends and family while also staying in touch with clients and picking up new gigs.

Dealing with clients in two countries that are 10 hours or about 15,000km apart can create many new challenges. Simple things like the time difference make communication a lot trickier and depending on what nationalities you are dealing with, there can also be differences in business culture you should be aware of.

Dealing with clients in more than one country

Once you’ve picked up some new gigs you now face the challenge of communicating with your clients in different time zones and different languages. Many of my friends keep asking me how I handle inquiries and phone calls from Germany while being in Australia where the time difference can be up to 10 hours or more.

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How to Upgrade Your Skill-level in 24 Hours

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You’re at an interview for a project. Your potential client decides to select you for the job. Better still, they are willing to give you double the rate you had requested.

As you walk out of the meeting feeling confident about winning the project, you hear your inner voice start to nag you about a few small details. By the time you walk out of the building, you realize something: there’s a certain thing they asked you to do that requires a skill you haven’t mastered yet… and the project is due in 24 hours.

I’ve run into this problem a few times in my life. I accepted projects without really knowing if I could finish them. And yet, all of these projects helped pushed me to the next level. Nowadays, I understand why I was able to advance myself through that pressure: by using Parkinson’s Law.

According to Wikipedia, the law holds that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” This means that when given a limited amount of time, your focuses increases, and you’re forced to give attention only to what you need to do. By using this powerful law, you’ll be able to perform your best work.

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Why You Should Start a Sparring Circle

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Many freelancers I’ve talked to can list a whole lot of positives to going solo. When asked about the downsides, however, I’ve found many people say that they miss the opportunity to talk about work with their co-workers. You know, not just telling your spouse that today’s client was a pain in the butt: real talk about your marketing, business strategies, changes in the market and the opportunity to bounce new ideas off people.

One solution for this missing-link is to start a sparring circle of freelancers. You can do this either online or live, for example, at a coffee shop (this has the added bonus of getting out of the four walls). The idea is to find a small group of likeminded people who have the same needs. That is, to talk about their business with others who’re interested and able to give feedback.

Here’s what we’ve found works for us in our small sparring circle:

1. Do the basics

Start by answering the basic questions in writing: Who are you? What do you want to do? Who are your clients? How will you reach them? What do you charge? Even the more experienced people in the circle should do this as circumstances have often changed since the last time they took the time out to think about these things. The answers to these questions put everything that follows into perspective.

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