In the year of the royal wedding and in celebration of special relationships, ContractingWISE has outlined some key tips for how contractors can build strong client relationships, to get the most out of their end clients. By forming meaningful professional relationships you can set yourself up with new contracts for years to come.
Building solid client relationships is hugely important, especially if you are just starting out in contracting. Not only will working well with your client make the project at hand a lot easier and more rewarding, it will also help to leave a lasting impression on the client and might even inspire great references or a contract renewal.
Tip 1 – Deliver quality
One of the best ways to build strong client relationships is to deliver quality. Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Instead, over-deliver and make a reputation for yourself as a contractor that goes the extra mile to achieve truly exceptional results.
Delivering quality and exceeding expectations will impress your client and make it more likely that they will want to continue working with you again and again – or they may even offer you an exceptional reference.
The client will expect you to deliver, that’s a given. But if you deliver quality and do more than is expected of you, it shows the client that you really care.
In a world where there’s an ever-increasing number of workers moving into contracting, setting yourself apart through the quality of work you deliver is always going to help you stand out from a growing crowd.
Tip 2 – Stay engaged and interested
Networking is one of the most important things that contractors can do to create and consolidate important professional relationships, yet very often it is seen as a short-term transactional activity with few long-term benefits.
Having met new contacts at networking events or on new projects, it’s a good idea to follow up these interactions with an invite to connect on LinkedIn. Thanks to the world’s leading business-focused social network there’s never been an easier way to stay in touch with business contacts.
Networking is a great way to meet new industry contacts and potential clients, keep in touch with existing contacts, and get your name out there. This is a really effective way of building solid relationships in your field. What’s more, networking is how many contractors hear about new contracting opportunities and secure future work.
Once you’ve completed a contract you should aim to maintain contact with the client to ensure you keep your relationship strong. The more you keep in touch, the more likely you will be on their mind when a relevant opportunity arises.
If you’re adhering to tip 1 and creating quality work, then you can create relevant case studies explaining the value you have added to your recent projects and share them via LinkedIn to your extended network and potential clients.
Tip 3 – Make the effort to integrate quickly
As a contractor you will find yourself working on various projects in different locations and new environments. It’s therefore important that you have the ability to integrate well into new environments and learn to find your feet quickly.
In your head you might work for yourself, but at most big clients you will seldom work alone to complete a project. Proactively involve yourself with other workers at each client and at each stage of your projects. This will help you break the ice and form the foundations of a good working relationship with all involved.
Tip 4 – Understand client’s workplace culture
When working on a new contract you’ll want to fit in well with your new clients’ values and ethos in order to integrate like a pro. So as a priority you should familiarise yourself with their culture as soon as you start on the project.
Does your client value creativity, innovation and collaboration? Taking time to find out and research these elements of their culture will help you interact with your client by altering the way you pitch ideas, ask for resources or deliver your work.
But whilst you should adapt to each environment, you should ensure you stand out for being the best at what you do, which can be a balancing act. Make sure you are recognised for your skill and prove your expertise, but be careful to not show up the client’s employees in the process.
Balancing this well will show the client that you’re well suited to their contract roles, and that they can have confidence in you.
Tip 5 – Good communication is key
In any role, good communication is a key skill to master, especially if you’re looking to build a strong client relationship. It’s no use understanding your client’s culture and integrating with employees if you can’t communicate well.
Great communication can often be more valued than the more academic skills you bring to the table. So, if you’re lacking confidence in this area, it’s worth practicing your communication. You might even benefit from investing in some communication lessons or less formal training opportunities such as online tutorials.
Use your communication skills to your advantage throughout the contract fulfilment process by involving and updating your client on the project at hand.
As a general guide, when in doubt, honesty and transparency will be appreciated in all aspects of client interaction (even if the message you’re delivering isn’t exactly what they wanted or were expecting to hear) because it conveys that you are trustworthy, present and actively engaged.
Clients want to be sure hiring a contractor is a good investment, so keeping them in the loop will help them trust you and consider you reliable – two of the basic foundations of any strong relationship.
To go that extra mile, make sure you not only regularly update your client with your progress, but make clear your forecast for the future of your project and how you’re already prepared for it.
At ContractingWISE our team is always here to help. To find out more about how to make the most of your contracting career, give us a call.