Congratulations! Whatever your business model or goals, your first client is a milestone worth celebrating.
Now that we’ve broken open the champagne and before we dive into how to be in a successful relationship with your first client, let’s talk a little bit about how to get that first client.
How To Get Your First Client
My first client was someone I had known, not well, for a long time. He liked the professional look and feel of my website, so he hired me to build his.
Likewise, my second client came to me because we had successfully worked on past projects together.
My most recent client is a parent at my children’s school. We got to know each other while watching our boys play soccer.
You get the idea. Getting clients is about, besides word of mouth, establishing and nurturing relationships. I hate to say this, but it’s kind of like dating.
You can’t meet new people if you stick to your same ol’ routine. Nope. You’ve got to push yourself to try new things. Here are some ideas:
- Work in a public place. Better yet, choose to work in a different place every day. This will help you learn more about your own work style, while creating opportunities for interaction.
- Take it offline. Go to meetups, networking events and conferences. At first it’s intimidating but, after a while, chances are you will be happy to get out from behind the computer!
- Get social online. Choose a few social channels, such as Facebook or Twitter (or get a little more creative and experiment with Quora, Reddit or Google+). Find out how these social channels work. Be sure to read your industry’s blogs or forums and comment regularly. Who knows? Your first client may come as a result of just one brilliant status update!
- Don’t forget the friends you already have. Send an email to your friends and acquaintances and let them know what you’re up to! Invite them to share the good news with their friends. . .
- Be friendly. This takes practice, too. But, whether you are walking your dog, going to the dentist or standing in line at the grocery store, there are interesting people everywhere. Now is not the time to be shy. Find out what other people are up to. Who knows? They may be working on a project that needs your attention!
How To Be In A Successful Relationship With Your First Client
So. Getting clients is about creating new relationships. Working with clients is about how to be in a successful relationship.
If getting your first client is like dating, then having your first client is like being in a relationship (After this the metaphor breaks down because in our persona lives, of course, we’re all looking for that one perfect romantic partner. In business, we’re looking either for open relationships or serial monogamy. Am I wrong?)
No matter what, this is a special relationship. Your first client will teach you so much about how to manage a project, how to add value, how to price, how to, well, just about everything.
Here are some tips for making the relationship with your first client special:
- Bring flowers. Just kidding.
- Do your research. Understand your first client and his or her business problems as clearly and thoroughly as possible.
- Deliver what you promise. I’m talking about the basics here. Show up on time, delivering what you said you would. This is courteous and builds trust. In business relationships, trust is, literally, gold.
- Help people get, not just what they think they want, but what they truly need. For example, the ANNACOLIBRI tech savvy coaching model is built on coaching women to be tech savvy and independent. In addition to websites, I deliver the technical knowledge and skills needed to understand the website and communicate about it with tech professionals and creatives.
- Be humble. If this is your first client, you are learning, too. Don’t be a know-it-all. Be a “learn-it-all.”
- Learn to communicate. This one is critical. It requires empathy–or putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Don’t talk up or down to clients. Speak to them as equals, in language they can understand.
- Don’t be afraid to make it shine. Just as with any relationship, paying attention to the other person’s needs and going the extra distance, as needed, is key.
- Maintain a sense of wonder. If this is your first client, you may be nervous. If they are hiring you, they are working on something important to them and are probably nervous, too. Don’t forget that, behind all the getting it done and business of it all is a creative impulse backed by the will to make a difference in the world. How beautiful!
The Gift That Gives
Providing a wonderful experience for your first client in the form of a warm, trusting and professional relationship pays off in many ways.
To help inspire you, here are some ways that building a successful relationship benefits you and your business:
- Future project opportunities
- The opportunity to really get to know someone and, my personal favorite,
- Professional growth and development for you and your business!
What do you think? What are the best ways to develop a successful relationship with your first client?
Varshneya, Rahul. How I Got My First Client And How You Can Too. November 26, 2012.
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