Last time I checked, there are more than 57 million freelancers/small business owners in the U.S. alone. It’s anticipated that by 2027 50.9 percent of the U.S. population will be freelancing. Suffice to say — it’s more important than ever to start separating yourself from the the rest of your fellow business owners. How do you do this? My making a memorable first impression.
Reliability and trustworthiness counts for a lot — it makes the difference.
Being reliable, trustworthy, and, obviously, good at what you do is a great start. But, so is making a memorable first impression when meeting with a potential client. After all, you only have a matter of seconds to make a strong first impression.
The good news is that if you use the following ten tips, you will be able to wow all of your potential clients.
Have a strong online presence.
This is key since you want prospective clients to find you, as opposed to you chasing clients. Referrals and word-of-mouth are proven methods. But, so is having a strong online presence. This way when a client searches for freelancers you’ll stand out from the pack.
The first place to start is by optimizing your profile on sites like UpWork, Freelancer, Fiverr, etc. Focus primarily on:
- A good headshot. It should be semi-professional and clean. You tailgating is definitely not suggested.
- Your overview/bio. While you should include your experience and what you’ve achieved, you also want to let clients know how you’ll meet their needs.
- Complete your profile. You’re not done just yet! Double-check that your profile is 100 percent complete, such as including sample work in your portfolio. It show clients that you’re qualified to do the job.
Besides having a profile on popular freelance marketplaces, you also need to set-up social media profiles. LinkedIn is a must since this is where potential clients are going to look for working relationships.
No embarrassing photos or non-professional language. These off-beat items tend to haunt the timelines forever.
If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, keep your accounts should be clean and professional. You can show-off your personality, but you shouldn’t be sharing embarrassing or controversial content.
Most importantly, have a website or portfolio, This is where clients can see examples of your work. Additionally, the content that you create shows those clients that you’re an expert in your industry.
Respond in a timely manner.
When a potential client contacts you don’t leave them hanging. Respond as soon as possible. It shows that you’re not only a pro, but are also seriously interested in landing the gig. Remember, if you snooze, you lose. This includes when you have a a meeting with them. Keep your Google Calendar or Yahoo Calendar up to date so that meetings will be up to date and you won’t have to
For a Memorable First Impression, Do your research.
Don’t wait until a meeting to ask a ton of clarifying questions. When a client gets in touch with you do a little research on them and their business. This will help your perfect your pitch since you’ll be able to let them know exactly how you can help them.
How can you improve their site?
For example, if you’re a web designer, and you noticed there site has a couple of flaws, you can let them know how you would be able to improve their site, which in turn will increase sales.
Another perk of this is that by finding out a little bit more about the client you’ll be able to determine if you’re a good fit. I’ve had to turn down some decent gigs because I didn’t feel like I would be able to click with the client.
What is your competitor doing?
Also, don’t forget to scope out their competitors. When you know more trends, industry standards, or common issues, within the client’s field, the more likely they’ll trust you. It’s also another way to show that you have serious interest in working with them.
Know the basics.
It never hurts to repeat the basics of making a great first impression for good measure — whether you’re meeting in-person or virtually.
- Be punctual.
- Speak clearly and avoid using slang or industry jargon.
- Be aware of your body language, such as not crossing your arms.
- If in-person, dress professionally and look at the client in the eyes.
- If virtual, make sure that you turn off all other notifications and that you are in a quiet room.
Be professional, but authentic.
“This is the most important tip I can give in regards first impressions. If you’re meeting someone for the first time you truly need to be yourself. You need to be authentic,” writes Renzo Costarella in a previous Calendar article.
“It’s common for people to brag about their accomplishments and hide their flaws in an attempt to impress whomever they’re talking to. More often than not this strategy actually backfires. If you are truly great, they will figure it out without you telling them,” adds Renzo.
“Try to lean into your weaknesses and show that you are self aware. If you can address your flaws early you’ll be able to move onto your achievements on the right foot.”
Use the right tools.
I missed out on working with a high-profile client because of one minor tech issue — my latest version of Android didn’t work with Skype. Even though I had a Skype account, and it worked perfectly fine on my previous phone. Sadly — it didn’t work correctly when it was time to meet this prospective client. By the time I figured the problem out — the client had moved-on.
Give it a trial run.
Long story short, before meeting with a client, make sure that they’re communication method works on your end.
I’d also had that you should start using a tool like Calendar. It’s perfect for finding the right date and time to meet with the client either in-person or remotely. With Calendar you just share your availability with them via email or an embedded link and they select when to meet. The meeting is then automatically added to everyone’s calendar. It’s so much more effective then going back-and-forth through email trying to find a time to meet.
Break the ice.
When it times to meet with the client, break the ice by having a quick chat about personal life. This should be interesting and not something genetic like the weather. It’s a simple way to build a connection. For instance, maybe your both dog owners and can share funny stories about your pooch. Or, maybe you’re both fans of the same sports team or musically artist.
I’ll be honest. I’ve worked with plenty of clients simply because there was a connection and I liked them — even if they didn’t pay as much as other clients. Eventually, they’ve become my bread-and-butter.
When it’s time to get down to brass tacks, you want to speak as if you’re going to work with the client. You may know in the back of your mind that this actually won’t happen. But, a little confidence can go a long way.
Charisma doesn’t mean that you own the room. It means making others feel important.
As Olivia Fox Cabane writes in The Charisma Myth, “No matter where you’re starting from, you can significantly increase your personal charisma and reap the rewards both in business and in daily life.”
The fundamental ingredients of charisma.
Cabane states that there are three fundamental ingredients of charisma: power, warmth, and presence. When you blend these together it helps make stronger first impressions.
Warmth is simply how you connect with someone, which is easy after you’ve broken the ice. Power involves how you’ll be able to help them. Presence is your attentiveness.
Be clear on the price and time frame.
“Once the details are discussed, be clear with how much you will charge and how long it will take you to get the project done,” suggests Freelancer. “Be transparent if there would be extra costs as the work progresses and account for possible delays before providing with an accurate quote and time frame.”
The last thing you want is to start working with a client and then asking for more money. It’s unprofessional and will probably discourage them from hiring you again.
Also, don’t forget “to agree on a structure of milestones together with your employer. This is the best way to move forward as it ensures both of you are on the same page about every single detail before getting started with the project.”
After you’ve met with a client, make sure that you send them a summary of your conversation, along with any links or documents that were discussed.
If you don’t hear back from the client, don’t be afraid to send a follow-up email. Just make sure that you’re persistent, but not annoying. As a general, you should give the client no more than three days if requesting a meeting or phone call and a week after sending them a proposal.