She didn’t call back after I left a voicemail this afternoon.
He didn’t respond to my email for an entire week!
Did she get my text? It says ‘Delivered’.
Although these may sound like first date follow-up concerns, they’re not. Until I set guidelines for communicating with my clients, I often felt like I was playing a bad dating game.
We each opted for different communication styles and often missed the mark. It was confusing and unprofessional. Now, I ask about communication style at the onset of a business partnership.
Establishing Communication Between a Client and Freelancer
Raise your virtual hand if you’ve been working on a project and your questions go unanswered. Have you felt lost and weren’t sure how to reach out to the client or your freelance creative?
Progress just stops.
I’ve been in this situation more than once, simply because the writer’s guidelines didn’t include a section about following-up during the creation process. Yes, it’s surprising since we all specialize in some aspect of communication.
Today I want you to think about how you talk with your colleagues. Whether they’re working on contract from a virtual office, or you bump elbows with them at a shared desk, it’s nice to establish a few guidelines so we know what communication methods are preferred.
1. Learn how the person you work with likes to communicate.
Some prefer everything to go through email so messages can easily be saved and shared with others. Other think a quick text is the best way to catch them on the go. I have one client who loves phone calls. And, many prefer to use chat features built-in to a platform or online service that serves as the foundation for your collaboration.
Any of these are fine, but you need to know which one to go to, so your questions don’t go unheard.
2. Establish the frequency of communication.
When I first started freelancing, I’m sure I was annoying. I used to send an email every time something popped into my head that made me question my next step. More often than not, I would follow up that message two minutes later with, “Nevermind, I figured it out!”.
What a nightmare, right?
I’ve since learned that the bulk of my clients appreciate emails that are succinct and address a few concerns at once in bullet-point format. They’re easy to read and reply to. On average, I only send these 1-2 times per week (or less) on an active project.
Ask your client point blank: Do they want you to check in only when you have a question? Or, would they like a weekly progress report? Some expect back-and-forth communication daily while others prefer to see projects roll in and simply touch base once per month with any questions or concerns.
3. Talk about time off.
When you are partnering with people from various businesses in multiple locations, it’s impossible to learn everyone’s schedule. Instead, I’ve found it incredibly helpful to communicate early on when you know you’ll be taking time off work. This allows your partners to adjust deadlines and workflow to accommodate their needs and your time off.
I like to add a message to the bottom of my emails when I know in advance about extended time off for vacation or holidays. I also set up an away message during the downtime and direct the person to my cellphone number for emergencies, if needed.
Likewise, ask the people you partner when they will be at their desks, if you plan to work through a holiday or common break, like spring break. This ensures that you don’t get frustrated with a lack of answers. You might working, but they are not.
Now that we’re all chatting in sync, let’s get some work done! As you read this, I’m probably busy penning another blog post or e-book for one of my content marketing clients. If you need another writer on your roster, give me a shout. I collaborate with marketing and advertising agencies to create content for blog posts, web pages, social media and newsletters. Learn how I can help your clients HERE.