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When you first begin your freelancing career you might underestimate the aspects of the job. Going from employee to working for yourself will force you to restructure your focus.
When you become a freelancer, you become an identify of yourself as well as a brand. Showing clients your creativity/managerial side is quite important for a successful representation.
Here are some strategies to follow in order to have a successful first meeting with a potential client. Fake it until you make it will not work here, understanding the major aspects is a must.
1. Know her/his business
Before you meet your client you have to be sure about his business. Gain information before you attend the meeting, research on Google or on social networks about the company/agency.
You would get a terrible first impression if he will ask you what is his business about and you will say I don’t know! Good luck from there, because now you have to climb up a ladder you just fell from.
2. Sell Yourself
This is the main purpose, you are dealing with a potential client selling your skills. Be very positive, show him your best works flipping through your portfolio, and talk about previous clients.
Take the opportunity to lean in and take them on a journey through your work. Engaging your client is essential. People want to feel involved. Get feedback from old clients and show it to the new ones.
Make him/her enthusiastic about what you can offer, you are a professional and this is the attitude you have to keep carrying.
Accessories such as an iPad/laptop/portfolio cases can help you to show your portfolio with excitement. This element also shows off your professionally and how much do you care about your job.
I’ve had many previous clients amazed while scrolling through my portfolio on an iPad. For the technology savvy, we care so much about specs and main product features for every gadget we buy.
Older folks that did not grow up with this stuff, are almost always amazed by how far technology has progressed!
4. Be Nice
Be a nice and positive person, smile, clients will not do business with a grumpy person, so cheer up, and if you can present yourself bringing a small gift, something like cookies, coffee, or a basket of fruit that you might share together.
I suggest avoid personal and expensive stuff such as watches and jewelry, you do not know this person and what it thinks about that and you do not want look like you are “buying” the job.
5. Suit up!
Introducing yourself to a first client meeting with a t-shirt and shorts is not the best idea. It’s true that you’re a designer, but in business people care a lot about how you look.
I am not saying that you have to wear a suit (if you want you can!) shirt and pants are fine, remember to shave and have your face clean. Last thing, if you do smoke please don’t do this right before the meeting. Believe it or not, some people do not really like when you smell like ash.
6. Be on Time!
Try your best not to be late for the appointment! People hate waiting, and they might look at this as an unprofessional behavior.
If you find yourself in trouble and you cannot make it in time, give that person a call to let them know your are on your way. Do not be too early either, it can be seen as one of your weaknesses.
Leave your client, and let them talk about what he/she wants. Be sure to write down/pinpoint what they are looking for, get all the information about the job, and understand what kind of person they are. Ask them to list some of their favorite designs based on the project.
This will allow you to recognize what their taste is, and avoid the “Can we make just a few changes?” at the end. Leave all your question at the end of the conversation.
8. Take notes
Following the previous step (listen) I would also suggest: take notes, with your computer or on paper if you prefer, and be sure to keep your notes organized.
Try to enter information in an outline with bullet-points under separate headers. Confirm the information at the end and tell them what you heard. It never hurt to double check on things.
9. Set an Agenda
An agenda sets the expectations of the meeting, establishes an orderly flow, and helps everyone understand his or her roles. Especially if you have a business partner or a team.
Be sure to e-mail a short agenda to everyone who’ll be in attendance so you will know that everyone is well prepared.
10. Be Honest
Too many people promise the world to potential clients, tell them what you can and cannot do! Tell them the truth while speaking in realistic terms. You need to earn their trust, thus being honest is a great start.