Finding the right date for Valentine’s Day is tough. It takes a lot of dating to find that perfect someone to settle in with, someone worthy of a ‘Be Mine’ candied heart. Rush in and it can easily become the worst night of your life.
So why is it that your go-to Solopreneur is doling out dating advice? As it turns out, there are a lot of similarities between having the perfect date and getting a great client.
I frequently tell prospective (and experienced) freelancers and consultants that going after projects is a lot like dating. Sometime it can feel like speed dating and other times it feels like no one wants to date you at all. Here are some tips that will definitely help you with clients. They just might help you with dates too!
1) Get friends to refer you. There is a rule of thumb that most people meet the person they end up with through a close friend. This is just as true with clients, as well. Who knows you better than someone you’ve already worked with or who knows your work? Keep those relationships alive, even when you’re busy gigging.
2) Pre-qualify before you meet up. Great news! Someone has offered to introduce you to someone about a gig (think blind date). Before rushing in, do a check on LinkedIn to see if they are in the right role and/or company for the kind of work you do. A referral is great, but you have to be sure it is targeted. This doesn’t mean you don’t accept the intro. It just means you’ll just be better prepared. Be sure to be doubly prepared by knowing the right questions to ask.
3) Don’t make future plans. Don’t assume a first-time meeting will lead to a contract. Being assumptive or in an hurry is a classic way to lose out on some key information or overlook signals you which you’d seen. Slow down your pace, there will be plenty of time to get to the altar.
4) Go with your gut – not your heart. Let’s say that person across the table from you is everything you’ve ever wanted: great brand, challenging work, etc. And yet, something just isn’t right. He’s cocky and dismissive. Maybe he seems bored. But in the end, he offers you the work. Your heart says ‘let’s go’ your gut says ‘let go’. Don’t let your heart override chemistry. The times I have have led me to divorce.
5) Timing is everything! You’ve heard those stories about couples that knew each other in high school, re-connected at their 20-year reunion, and ended up getting married. That can happen in client dating as well (though let’s hope 20 years don’t have to go by). There will be times when you meet someone and everything feels right, but the timing just isn’t. Even still, keep in touch. Some relationships need a little time to match up perfectly.