Tips for building rapport with clients online and in the real world

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Freelance relationship building

To succeed as a freelancer – whether you’re a designer, a writer, an HR consultant or a programmer – you need to be a master at building great client relationships.

There’s more to this than simply producing excellent work every time they engage you in a project. You need to make a conscious effort to build rapport with your clients.

Building rapport (the French word for ‘refer’) will ensure that they recommend you to other people and that they keep coming to you for more. The upside is that you’ll enjoy your work even more if you have good relationships with the people you work with.

How to build rapport with your clients as a freelancer

So how can freelancers build rapport with clients? Here are six solid tips to consider:

  1. Be communicative
  2. Add value
  3. Be yourself
  4. Be a true fan of their work
  5. Show them how you’re helping them
  6. Emphasise online security

1. Be communitive

Communication is key in any relationship, and it certainly holds true for a client-freelancer relationship. Keep your clients up to date with what you’re doing for them, when you expect to deliver, any complications you may encounter, and any support you need to deliver a good piece of work on time.

Radio science makes the client anxious. When you sign up a new client, set some ground rules for communication that work for both parties and ensure your mutual expectations are aligned. Ask how often they’d like to be updated and in what way (daily e-mail, occasional phone calls, weekly video chats).

To avoid frustration on both sides, discuss how the briefing and debriefing process will work. It can be useful to set up templates in which the client can fill in the job specifications, deadlines, sign-off process, deliverables, contact people and other info you need to do the job.

2. Add value

Find small ways to add value and show that you go beyond the call of duty. This does not mean working for free or undercharging. Instead, it’s about showing good faith and being thoughtful and proactive.

There are usually many ways to help your client without incurring too much extra cost or using up more than a few minutes of your time.

3. Be yourself

As a freelancer, you’re in the service business and that means you are the product. Your success depends heavily on how you interact with your clients and connect with them on a human level. Take the time to get to know them and they will remember you for it.

Ask them how they’re doing, congratulate them on product launches or share an appropriate joke. Showing your personality will make you more memorable as a freelancer and help clients feel at ease with you. The more at ease they feel with you, the more you’ll become part of their business.

4. Be a true fan of their work

Nothing will endear a client to you as much as showing genuine interest in their work. Retweet your clients on Twitter. Include their company on your website portfolio. Show that you’re proud to be working with them.

5. Show them how you’re helping them

It’s your job to show your clients what you are doing for them, especially if you work behind the scenes. This can be through monthly reports or weekly meetings.

For instance, if you’ve been hired to keep an eye on a client’s social media account, you could send them reports as often as agreed that show exactly what the activity has been and how you have turned it into a positive. If you don’t do this, your client may not notice the great work you have been doing for them.

6. Emphasise online security

If you want to build rapport with clients, show them they can trust you with their data. Having a secure website (one with an SSL certificate that uses HTTPS encryption to secure the exchange of information to and from your site) goes a long way in helping them feel safe sharing information with you online. Thankfully, getting an SSL certificate is simple, and GoDaddy offers multiple SSL options.

Learning how to build rapport is good for business

Figuring out how to build rapport with clients doesn’t have to be hard. Put the above tips into action and you’ll see your client relationships become friendlier and more enjoyable over time. Who says freelancing can’t be fun?

This article has been adapted from an original piece by Amy Rigby.  

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