As a freelance writer, I am stuck behind the monitor of my computer far more than I would like to be. It keeps me there, and does so with my blogs, websites, and just random stumbling across the inter-webs. While near all my clients have found out about my services from various websites that I advertise on, it is still important that I gain contacts whom I can meet personally.
I think a lot of new freelancers fall into this trap where they will only make connections with clients online. While there is no problem with this, keeping clients that you have freelanced for offline is always something that can help boost a freelancers image and scope.
Being able to communicate directly with a client can solve many problems. You can get real insight into what they are looking for from your freelancing services. Over a chat window or through emails allows for easy communication, but it is not always clear as to what is really needed. Miscommunication is very easy. When I meet with a client needing a project done from me, I can ask all the questions I would with an email when I get an inquiry. However, in an email I may not get everything I need and will have to wait for another response. With a face-to-face encounter with someone I am working with, I get the answers I need at that very moment.
One of the most important part of any freelancers work is to build a connection with a client. Have you ever tried to date someone exclusively online? I have – when I was a youngin’ – and I never have found anything harder in my life. While building a relationship with a client doesn’t need to go as far as that did, the basics are still there. Communication is an essential to working with your clients and keeping them coming back for more with a definite connection. On top of this, you are much more likely to build bridges between your clients and people they know. I’ve gotten more referrals from people I have met offline than the many more I have serviced online.
Working with a client offline can usually bag you a little more cash. If you are charging per hour, you could charge for that hour of consulting you had with a client before you started their project. In many cases, clients invite me out to talk about a project over coffee or a meal. While I offer to pay my half, the client nearly always covers my tab. On top of this, if you are doing a product related service, they might give you that product free. I have also received plenty of other neat accessories like pens, tablets, folders and notepads.
While a freelancer’s job doesn’t require us to meet directly with our clients, it should be a part of your freelance game plan. It can increase a freelancer’s benefits, connection, as well as establish your repertoire in your clients mind. If nothing else, it will get you away from the computer, a break I’m sure many of us need.