When I take short, casual-rate jobs I tend to contact the client on a needs basis. But on contract or permanent jobs, I try to be a bit more rigorous. Obviously the need for contact depends on yourself, the client and the work situation. But even if I’m working completely solo, on longer contract jobs I like to try to check in with the client once a day.
Sure, checking-in ticks all the boxes you’d expect: it helps me build client relationships, ensures I don’t miss any project developments I need to know about, and can help with problem solving. But it achieves two other goals that are equally as important, if not more so.
First, it helps remind your client that you’re there. It doesn’t just remind them you’re alive, or that you’re actually doing work. Checking in once a day gives you the opportunity to discuss the sorts of smaller issues that you might not actually set down in email. It gives clients insight into how you work, what thoughts you’re having about different aspects of their projects, and how you might be of value to them in other ways, or on other jobs.
The other benefit of the check-in is that it reminds you that your client is there — that you’re not alone if you face hurdles, need advice or assistance, or want someone to bounce ideas off. I find that working remotely can lead to a sort of “must resolve everything myself” mindset. Whether that means scouring forums for solutions, or brainstorming my own ideas, it doesn’t encourage me to seek advice from the client. And often it’s turned out that, had I asked the client first, the issue would have been resolved much more swiftly, if not more effectively.
A quick IM or call to let the client know where I’m at, or what I’ve been thinking about their project, can often lead to the discussion of factors that I wouldn’t otherwise have gleaned. Last week, while chatting socially with a client about the news headlines, she remembered she’d seen an article that, while not directly related to her company, had a strong bearing on the amount and type of media interest likely to arise around the project I was working on. If I hadn’t called to check in, she might not have thought to mention it to me at all.
But even if every check-in contact doesn’t lead to exciting new discoveries, it usually leaves me with a sense of purpose for my work on the project, and for the day ahead, and makes me feel I’ve reinvested myself with the client — that I’m part of their team, rather than an outsider.
Have you checked in with your client today?
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