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Wondering whether you should give your cell number to a new client? Trying to decide if you should contact them via email or phone?

Each medium of communication has different benefits and weaknesses associated with it. When I’m hemming and hawing over whether to call, email, text or meet a client, I like to harken back to the age-old pro/con list.

It’s a fast and easy way to identify which conversations should be held where - and I hope it helps you too!

Email

Pros:

  • You can plan out what you want to say in advance (and get the wording JUST right).
  • You have a record of all communication to refer back to.
  • There’s much more opportunity to get into greater detail in emails, and you can also add other forms of media as needed (such as website links, photos, videos, attachments, etc.).

Cons:

  • Depending on how long your client takes to respond to their emails, you might not hear from them for days.
  • You don’t actually know if the client received your email or if it went to their spam filter.
  • Things can sometimes get misinterpreted in emails.

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Phone call

Pros:

  • You and your client can discuss the project in real time, saving the back-and-forth that can come with email or texting.
  • The client can repeat things in a few different ways if you are unsure of what exactly they want the first time they explain it – thus increasing the chance that they will love your finished work.
  • Conversations on the phone have the feel of an in-person meeting, so that your client can “get to know” you, even if they live on the other side of the world.

Cons:

  • Your client may call you out of the blue when you’re unprepared for a phone meeting.
  • Any agreements you make over the phone will then have to be translated into writing for confirmation afterwards.
  • If your client lives far away and you don’t have a great phone plan, it could end up costing you a lot of money depending on the frequency and duration of your phone conversations.

In-person meeting

Pros:

  • You can get to know one another and determine whether you’re a good fit.
  • You can go into all of the minute details of the project so you know exactly what they want, and so that they understand exactly what your vision for the project is.
  • It gets you out of the house and interacting with the public – and let’s face it, most of us as freelancers need to take advantage of those opportunities!

Cons:

  • As with making agreements over the phone, you’re still going to have to get confirmation on your agreements in writing after your in-person meeting.
  • If you don’t take detailed notes, you might miss out on something important (or minor, which could become a big problem later on).
  • It might take a lot of time out of your day: in-person meetings tend to take longer than phone meetings, for example, and if you have a long commute to your agreed-upon destination, the amount of time your in-person meeting takes up could increase drastically.

Text message

Pros:

  • If your client is at an event and needs to send you a quick photo or key information that you will be sharing with the public, texting can make this happen in a snap.
  • Texting can be a great way to share things that are time-sensitive or to ask quick questions from one another.
  • It can build a nice, friendly camaraderie between you and your client because of the informality of this method of communicating.

Cons:

  • Because of the nature of texting, you might not be able to get across your point – and there’s an increased chance you will misunderstand each other.
  • Your client might think that they can start texting you for everything, all the time, which can seriously disrupt your day when you’re trying to stay disciplined and focused on your work.
  • If you don’t respond to a text right away, you might forget about it later on.

The bottom line…

What it really comes down to is your personal preference – and your client’s preference, too. Even though your favorite type of communication might be email, if your client only checks their email a couple times in a month, then you’ll wind up with some major communication problems!

You will likely need to use a few different forms of communication for different clients, and it might be a good idea to set up some boundaries right in the beginning (for example, texting is only to be used in emergencies).

Don’t give out all of your contact information freely, or you might just be bombarded with text messages and phone calls when you’re trying to get work done.

What’s your favorite (and least favorite!) type of communication when it comes to connecting with clients? Share with us on Twitter (@freelancersu and @Saganlives) your best communication tips!

Sagan Morrow is a freelance writer, editor, and social media manager. She writes a professional lifestyle blog (including freelancing and productivity tips) at SaganMorrow.com.


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