Working Wednesday – Client work

Clients. As freelancers, we need them. Some clients are great – they invigorate you. You leave meetings totally jazzed about upcoming work and challenges are exciting. I left a meeting with a client yesterday on top of the world. There’s a ton of work to do and it’s all stuff I love to do. When I got home, I immediately filled in El Hombre on what’s in the pipeline.

Other clients, well… Let’s just say that not all client relationships are a match made in heaven. There’s nothing worse than feeling like your client isn’t engaged – especially when you feel like there’s tons of potential. But like personal relationships, there’s not always a spark.

A few weeks ago, I talked about my clients being one of the things that keep me up at night. Specifically, whether I am happy with my clients and whether they are happy with me.  As someone who’s worked in the client world for almost a decade, you come to trust your instincts on these things, but sometimes you can’t help but wonder.

These are my top three warning signs that signal when clients may not be happy:

  • Are my clients less responsive than usual? If they are less responsive and they aren’t traveling or up against a deadline, this is usually a sign that they might be shopping around.
  • Are my clients enthusiastic about new ideas or do they propose new projects?
  • Is conversation stilted or awkward? Has familiarity been lost in email conversations?

So what do you do when clients aren’t happy?

  • Schedule an in-person meeting or go to coffee. I work remotely for the majority of the time, but there’s nothing like face time. It’s my number one way to reconnect – we tend to hide behind computers and phones, and so much gets lost in translation.
  • Provide extra data or analytics, if possible.
  • Let it go. Sometimes the best thing to do is part ways. If this is the case, I always recommend providing a wind-down period. Sometimes there’s changes in budgets or priorities with the client. By bowing out gracefully, you leave the door open for future work.