Do you ever feel disconnected, like you’re getting too little from the energy you pour into your work? Maybe you’re approaching freelancing the wrong way. If you’ve listened to the podcast, you know by now that we aren’t fans of ‘drive-by impact’ and chasing customers, living gig to gig. If you want another way to use your creativity and have stability and deep meaning in your work, this episode is for you.
Think about it: what part of your job do you enjoy the most? Is it getting clients, or getting your clients the results they want? When you have long-term engagements with clients, it takes the pressure off you to scramble for more and enables you to do your fulfilling work. The stuff you’re good at.
Long-term engagements deepen your understanding of the problems your clients face.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every problem your clients face. If you aren’t spending time with them, in their industry, learning their pain points, and the underlying issue causing the symptoms, then you won’t be able to give them lasting solutions. When your understanding deepens, you gain the ability to deliver more impact, and you become an industry insider they look to time and time again.
Longer term relationships allow you to leverage your expertise and experience to deliver more impact.
You have a pile of intellectual property: the things you’ve learned, the clients you’ve served, the mistakes and successes you’ve been through. You earned this intellectual property through deep engagement, becoming an industry insider, and taking the time to understand the problems. You have, in effect, become an authority, and it won’t only be your clients looking up to you. It will be many of the people in the industry.
Long-term relationships build deeper engagement and connection with decision makers who will refer you to others.
Referrals are the best thing you can get. When you build a relationship with the people who decided with you and solve their problem, they become your greatest advocates. When they are talking with their peers, the ones who have the same problems as them, your name is one they will share.
Long-term relationships position you as a partner, not a vendor or salesperson.
This is an important distinction. In their mind, you become a part of your client’s team. Rather than tossing them a solution and going on to the next client, you and your client work together to create a custom solution, then you guide them through implementation and upkeep. You are invested in their success, and that gives you every opportunity to knock their socks off. In your client’s mind, you are no longer a cost. You bring value.
Sit down for an hour and map out a year-long engagement. It can be an existing client or one you’re interested in working with. You don’t have to use the plan, but notice how it changes your thinking. What would you do up front? What would you do to support them along the way? How can I make sure they get the results you promised? Once you’ve wrapped your mind around it, implement it!
If you want to get to the bottom of your clients’ real problems and develop lasting relationships from the very start, you need a proposal that goes above and beyond paragraphs and bullet points. This is how you get clients to hire you again and again.