What’s the one thing you can do to make yourself invaluable to clients?
Answer: You have work with them.
Yes, that sounds simple and obvious, but before dismissing my advice, ask yourself this: What did you do the last time a client gave you an assignment or a topic? Did you just write the content and hand over the post? Or did you take a proactive and collaborative approach to improve the idea and come up with the best blog post possible?
If it’s the former, then you’re not really working with the client; you’re just doing what you’re told.
In this post, we’ll talk about why you should consider being more collaborative with your customers. We’ll discuss the benefits of doing so, along with ways to help you work better with them.
Check out the pointers below.
Benefits of working with clients
Being collaborative with clients takes extra time and effort, but it pays off in the long run. Going beyond what you’re told to do shows clients that you have initiative and you care about producing top-notch work. When done right, this can result in stronger relationships, additional work, and more referrals.
For example, when a former client asked me to write a press release for them, I went beyond simply typing up the piece. I wrote several headline suggestions, recommended a number of newswires, and gave them advice on dealing with journalists when the press release went live. I even shared the piece on social media.
The client appreciated the effort I made, and my actions not only strengthened our relationship, they also set me apart from the other freelancers they were working with. This led to additional assignments, and it wasn’t long before I became their go-to freelance writer.
Having a “work together” approach can also help you gain referrals. Clients will be more likely to refer you to their colleagues if they love working with you.
Additionally, collaborating with clients makes you highly perceptive when it comes to the ideas or content types that will work best for them. And the more you know about their business, the less time you have to spend racking your brain for what to write about. Ideas will flow smoothly and you may find it easier to come up with content.
Ways to work better with clients
It’s easy to start improving your working relationships with clients. In fact, you can begin your “work together” approach as soon as you finish reading this post. Here are a few tactics to start with:
Get to know the people you’re dealing with
Just because you’re not an employee doesn’t mean your relationship with your clients has to be detached or purely transactional. Make an effort to be better acquainted with them. Ask how they’re doing, what their interests are, how they spend their weekends, etc. And if they’re open to it, feel free to share things about yourself as well.
Doing so increases your likeability. Not only that, it demonstrates your effort to get to know them. Your clients will feel more at ease, and your relationship will improve.
Case in point: When I got pregnant last year, I shared the news with a number of clients. I got plenty of support, and a few people even dished out helpful parenting advice. But most important, sharing my baby news actually made me and my clients work more efficiently. Since they knew that I was going to go on maternity leave, we were able to start project discussions early and set deadlines well before my due date.
A quick note: Before implementing this tip, get a feel of the type of client you’re dealing with. Some people like sharing things about themselves outside of work, but others may not be keen to do so. If you’re dealing with the latter, then you’d want to implement the next two tips instead.
Get to know their target audience / customers
Instead of relying solely on Google when researching for your assignments, see if you can have actual conversations with your client’s target audience. Request interviews with their customers so you can speak to them and gain added insights.
For example, when a company hired me to write a blog entry for them, I immediately asked if I could interview their customers as part of my research. The client agreed, and referred me to some of the people using their product.
I conducted the interviews, and was able to write a great piece because of them. The company loved the content I submitted, but equally important is that they appreciated my effort in producing the post. I could’ve easily relied on search engines to do research, but going the extra mile to speak to their customers demonstrated my readiness to work with them.
Have your say
Don’t just do as you’re told. Voice your opinions. Do you have some thoughts on the content of their website? Tell them. Do you think their article idea could be improved? Offer to refine it. Even if they don’t end up using your input, the fact that you’re proposing ideas rather than just taking them in shows that you have initiative.
Doing so also makes clients see you as a partner or consultant, instead of a freelancer that they simply send assignments to. This is an important distinction. Partners/consultants tend to earn more, because their services are often perceived to have a higher value.
Becoming invaluable to clients isn’t just about how good of a writer you are; it’s also about how well you can work with them. Being proactive and collaborative with customers can pave the way for better relationships, more assignments, and higher income.
So the next time you interact with your clients, make it a point to work with (not just for) them. Get to know them and their customers, and be empowered to voice out your thoughts. In doing so, you’ll go from a writer they like to a content partner they love.
Have you ever made yourself invaluable to a client? Share your story in the comments.