You don’t need to become best friends, but relationships make gigs more enjoyable and boost your chances of referrals for future jobs.
How would you describe the relationships you have with your clients or boss?
Making solid connections with your clients and higher-ups not only makes your gigs more enjoyable but also means you’ll have more referrals and recommendations thrown your way later.
Whether you’re new to the gig economy or want to level up in your department, these tips will help you build and improve your relationships so everyone wants to work with you.
Ignore this major aspect of your partnerships and you’ll find just the opposite.
Why the Health of Your Professional Relationships Matters
Clients and bosses are more than bags of money.
While certain ones can be a total pain to deal with, most will help you climb the ladder to your next awesome role if you know how to impress.
And if you foster these healthy professional relationships, you’ll give yourself:
The chance for more work. Impress decision-makers and you’ll prove you can take on bigger, more prestigious projects. If you’re working contract, this may mean extending your time on the project or taking on another.
Stand out from the crowd and become a client’s preferred vendor to work with and you’ll have more repeat business to take to the bank.
Networking opportunities. After your stellar work, your contact will recommend your skills to their network of contacts.
Free marketing. Happy clients and supervisors will gush about you. Put those testimonials on your website and they’ll literally sell your services to new leads — at all hours of the day and from anywhere in the world — like free advertising.
But the secret to nabbing all these perks takes more than answering emails and Slack messages as soon as they come in (though that’s also super important!).
5 Secrets to Improve Your Work Relationships
You may be working with several clients simultaneously or only answer to one big cheese. No matter which boat you’re in, you should always try to:
#1. Focus On Them
It’s easy to remain distant with supervisors and clients and only focus on the work you’re assigned. But you’ll miss the chance to establish a working relationship (and they may move onto someone they connect better with).
So just like you get to know someone in your personal life, try to get to know your boss or client to understand exactly who they are, what they need, and where you fit in.
This takes asking a series of questions and talking to them about:
- Their career story
- Their struggles and pain points
- What they’re looking for
- How they work
- Their preferred communication methods
- What’s most important to them (i.e., sticking to deadlines or error-free work, for example)
Again, no one’s saying you have to become best friends and cross the professional line into personal territory. But the extra effort to get to know someone’s needs goes a long way for better communication.
It may be easier for you to open up and care if you start practicing this next tip.
#2. Think of Everyone Like Your Partner
Treating your clients or higher-ups like your partners, rather than separate entities you’re working for, may help you become more invested in their goals.
But this isn’t just an incentive for you to perform well. It’s also a chance for them to feel like they’re on your level.
See, everyone will come to you with a problem they need help resolving. This puts them in a vulnerable position while you’ll be holding all the answers as the expert.
Many people keep these power dynamics in place so they can guarantee more work for themselves in the future.
But you can change the dynamics of your relationships and make them more collaborative so everyone feels like they have something meaningful to contribute.
This mutually beneficial partnership will give you more to work with so you can further erase the pain points they’re dealing with and make them happy. You’ll come out looking like a rock star and they’ll be psyched to be part of your band.
And just like friends, you should always be upfront and honest.
#3. Communicate Honestly and Frequently
There’s a rule you should live by: Never overpromise and underdeliver.
This means when clients or supervisors have unrealistic expectations, you need to be the one to bring them back down to earth.
Instead of shooting down the idea immediately, try to explain why certain elements of the ask won’t work and always suggest a better option.
Clients would rather have someone tell the truth and put forth a realistic workaround than someone who yesses them and fails to deliver what was promised.
The same honest approach goes for projects you’re already working on.
Mistakes happen — it’s how you deal with them that makes all the difference.
Do not ghost your client or boss when there’s a problem. The longer it takes you to address the issue, the more distrust you’ll sow.
If you’re going to miss a deadline, let them know sooner than later so they can plan around it. Though they may still be disappointed, they’ll appreciate the honest heads up a week out versus the day of.
With these open lines of communication, make sure your clients also feel the same level of comfort. They should see you as friendly and approachable; someone they can bounce ideas off or ask questions without feeling dumb.
This may become easier if you keep them in the loop (and the technical jargon out).
#4. Keep Them In the Loop and KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
When you discover your client’s preferred way to get in touch, stay in contact every step of your process, or every few days.
Clients and managers like to know what to expect from the people they work with.
Since they’re not experts in your line of work, they don’t know what to expect other than the vision of the finished product they have in their heads.
Ease their anxiety and confusion and they’ll be more confident in your ability to deliver.
Make your process transparent and touch base often to mention what you’re working on and what issues you may be dealing with. Don’t complicate your conversations with technical terms and keep it simple so everyone’s in the loop.
You’ll build trust quickly and avoid clients sending frantic emails and Slack messages asking what’s up.
When your project or contract wraps, continue the honest dialogue by asking for feedback.
#5. Ask for Feedback
It’s helpful for all parties involved to discuss what went right and what could be improved after each project or contract ends.
So send out an email about much you enjoyed working together. Highlight the good and take ownership of areas you wish went better.
Clients and bosses respect someone who can admit their mistakes and pledge to work on them.
If you’re brave, send out a quick survey using something like Google Forms to ask for feedback and what you can improve for next time.
This feedback loop tells clients and higher-ups you really care. They’ll want to work with you again if you’re a good listener and actually follow their advice.
Win Over Clients and Bosses As You Rise to the Top of Your Game
With fire communication and relationship-building skills, you’ll have no trouble earning repeat business from clients and neverending praise from your bosses.
Follow these tips and word about your work ethic will go viral, your calendar will fill up, and a promotion may be in your future.
Did you know FreshGigs has both contract and full-time jobs?
Check them out here and use your new intel to start your work relationships on the right foot