Most freelancers hop from gig to gig. That means a lot of endings. Sometimes, a one-time project turns into a repeat client – but sometimes your client disappears forever, no doubt sliding directly into the Bermuda Triangle to hang out with Alien Elvis and Bigfoot.
If you’re careful, however, you can use your “goodbye” to increase the probability of working with a client again. And since keeping a client is about a million times easier than finding a new one, there’s no excuse for not following these 3 simple steps!
*Tie up loose ends *
Are you really done? No…wait. Are you really, really done? It’s good to be a bit compulsive in this case.
Double-check that you’ve fulfilled all the aspects of the project as agreed-upon. Send a confirmation email to get it in writing (“We’ve done X and Y as agreed; are we ready to confirm this is the final draft?”). Send out a final invoice and confirm its receipt; there is nothing more irritating than trying to collect months after you’ve finished a project. Do all the nitty-gritty little finishing details.
If you’ve been working out of the client’s office, clean up your workspace; that may seem obvious, but that kind of small courtesy goes a long way. You don’t want to be remembered as “the freelancer who left Cheeto dust on everything.” Think of freelancing like camping:
play dead if you see a bear leave the environment just as you found it.
Say “Thank You”
Mama was right; politeness pays off.
When you’ve finished up your gig, send your client a quick “Thank You” email within a day or two of completion. Make sure you include your contact information – as well as an explicit invitation to work together again. It doesn’t have to be long, fancy, or awkward:
Dear Dr. Jekyll,
I really enjoyed working with you on this potion; it was a pleasure to collaborate with another scientist on such a worthy cause. Please keep me in mind for future experiments in the human psyche – I can be reached any time at DrFrankenstein@gmail.com, or by phone at 1-800-MISTAKE.
Boom, the seed is planted! I know that some older guides suggest cards, but email is preferable, in my opinion – if only because its searchable when they’re looking for your contact information in the future.*
*This is also the time to politely ask for testimonials or feedback, if you’re interested.
Connect on Social Networks
Hate those “update” emails from LinkedIn? Me too – but guess what? They help remind me of work connections, and make sure that previous clients know what I’m up to.
Connect with clients on LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook* while they’re still your clients; that link will outlast single projects. Connecting to current clients makes them “colleagues”, rather than employers, and builds relationships. When they’re scrolling through their contact list later, they’ll think of you for future projects.
*Use this tip reasonably; only connect on platforms where your tone is fairly professional, or at least in sync with your client’s. If you’re prone to posting Facebook photo of you doing Jello shots with a monkey, stick to LinkedIn – unless you were working for Drunky Monkey Intl**.
**Drunky Monkey – a Family Company TM __
By following these 3 fairly easy steps, you’ll stick landings better than Kerri Strug – and ensure that as few clients as possible go into that Triangle of No Return.
What about you, fellow freelancers? How do you end a gig?
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