As a freelance learning professional, building strong and lasting consulting relationships is essential for success in the industry. Consulting relationships are not only crucial for obtaining repeat business, but they also help to establish your reputation and credibility in the field. However, creating rehire-worthy consulting relationships requires more than just providing quality work. It involves a deep understanding of your client’s needs, delivering consistent and effective solutions, and building a positive rapport. Here are some practical tips to help you create consulting relationships that will keep clients coming back for more:
1. Listen actively to your clients.
Before starting any project, make sure you listen actively to your clients. Ask open-ended questions to gain a deeper understanding of their needs and expectations. Take note of their pain points and offer solutions that address those issues. Being a good listener shows that you care about your clients’ successes and can help you build trust and rapport.
2. Set clear expectations.
To avoid any misunderstandings or surprises, set clear expectations at the beginning of each project. This includes deliverables, timelines, communication channels, and payment terms. Make sure your clients understand what they can expect from you and what you need from them to complete the project successfully.
We do this through a project kick-off meeting with our clients, setting the tone for a successful engagement. Here’s a brief overview of what we cover:
- Validate the needs, business goals, and what success looks like.
- Review the high-level process — especially if this is their first time working with you.
- Establish communication and process preferences.
- Outline who’s responsible for what, and the next steps.
For more practical tips for setting clear client goals and expectations, head to our recent blog post, Freelancer Fears: How to Meet Your Goals with Consultants.
3. Be responsive.
This one is near and dear to our hearts as one of our core values. Being responsive as a freelance learning professional is critical to building trust and maintaining strong consulting relationships. Respond promptly to emails, calls, and messages from your clients. Even if you don’t have an immediate answer, let them know that you received their message and when they can expect a response.
Put it into practice by setting and communicating SLAs. For example:
- We have a four-hour response time during working hours that our consultants agree to when they join our network.
- We ask that upcoming out-of-office time be communicated (and documented) in advance with their client partner.
- We require a backup when consultants will be out for longer periods of time during an active project. Again, all parties must communicate and agree upon this in advance.
- We suggest setting up an out-of-office autoresponse and including the following points:
- Resources and points of contact in your leave.
- Delays in response and if you will have access to email.
- Return to office timeline.
4. Provide regular progress updates.
Keep your clients informed of your progress throughout the project. This includes sharing updates on milestones achieved, challenges encountered, and next steps. Regular progress updates can help to build trust and confidence in your ability to deliver high-quality work.
5. Ask for feedback.
After completing a project, ask your clients for feedback on your work. This can help you identify areas for improvement and show your clients that you value their opinions. Take their feedback into account and use it to improve your work in the future.
- Provide an example of good feedback to your client.
- Specify if you want feedback on the content, design, or functionality.
- Disclose if you haven’t completed a thorough edit of a deliverable.
6. Maintain a positive attitude.
Finally, maintain a positive attitude throughout your interactions with your clients. Be friendly, professional, and enthusiastic about their projects. A positive attitude can help you build a good rapport with your clients and make it easier to work together.
In conclusion, creating rehire-worthy consulting relationships is essential for freelance learning professionals. You can establish yourself as a go-to consultant in your field by understanding your client’s needs, communicating effectively, delivering consistent and high-quality work, building trust and rapport, and following up and following through.
Looking for your next great consulting partnership? Apply today to have your dream work come to you!