When it comes to winning that next freelance gig, sometimes, it’s your attitude that closes the door of opportunity – even if you’ve got a killer cover letter and a portfolio website to start with. Know that in freelancing, the art of communication matters a lot, whether you are exchanging email correspondences, phone calls or having live conversations via a video chat platform like Skype. One false move and you can miss that deal which could have been yours if not for your social ineptitude. How do you become a graceful freelancer then?
Etiquette 101: Good Manners Every Freelancer Should Know By Heart
For some contractors, having a social etiquette comes as natural as breathing oxygen. Working at home doesn’t mean you have to slack when it comes to facing your prospects. Your habits will surely make a huge difference and here’s how to make that first impression last a long time.. that it ensures you of a repeat business:
1. Read Before You Hit on ‘Submit’
Many freelance sites work in a bidding system where you have to send in a cover letter and your bid rate for the project. The early bird catches the worm, no doubt – but if you’re not reading carefully the requirements of the job, you might as well as waste another application to spam. Read thrice before you submit your bid!
2. Everyone Has a Name. Use It!
The truth is that clients don’t have all the time in the world to sift through all those application letters and greeting them by their name gets their attention. You can search for the contact person on your prospect’s website or you can simply ask to whom you will address your application to. Looking generic doesn’t make you shine above the crowd so skip writing to Mr. or Ms. Anonymous by adding some personal touch.
3. Be Email Savvy
You are a professional and not some sweetie129 so don’t use such name for your business email address. It is also important to have an email signature showing your complete name and contact info. You must also keep the format of your email simple – in text format, black on white background. In line with item No. 2, giving a personal greeting may start with a simple hello, then, getting to your point quickly. This goes to your subject line as well. Keep your email short and anything longer must be sent as a link or an attachment. Spell check is your best friend so fix all those typos and text lingo before you click on the ‘send’ button… and did I mention never to batch send your application even if it’s tempting to do so? ( Don’t be that lazy, the clients can tell..)
4. It Truly Pays to Be Polite
Politeness doesn’t mean saying yes all the time to your prospect’s demands without setting your work boundaries. It’s as simple as picking up the phone when it rings or responding within 24 hours when someone leaves a message. Working from home doesn’t mean you are exempted from social norms. Being a freelancer means you are your own customer service rep so it helps if you smile when you talk. When you are chatting online, know that it’s only a conversation if both sides are engaged. Try asking your prospect if he or she is free to spare a chat before you even ring and get your client rattled. Just because a video call is available doesn’t mean the other party want to do video right now.
5. Spare an Act of Gratitude
What’s worse than not replying to your prospect’s queries? It’s sending them automated messages like they have just clicked the follow button on Twitter. A simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way, whether you send a note or say it with a big bright smile. This can put your prospects at ease and that pleasant attitude may just win them over.
When it comes to business talk, RESPECT matters a lot – from the way you communicate with your prospects to the way you talk about your ex-clients. I’ve won my first freelance gig not because I am the best of the best, but because my manners have put my client’s doubt at bay. Honesty is still the best policy in freelancing and these good manners come second as a sign of your dependability. Give your clients due respect and they will respond with theirs.
What good manners do you practice in your freelancing career? Share your thoughts on the comment below.
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