The following article was first published on FREELANCE ADVISOR the site for people who freelance.
Commanding higher fees and more loyalty from your clients is crucial to any freelancer. We all want people talking about our services and enough work to pick and choose. If you want to achieve this there is one thing that you should put at the heart of your relationship with your clients and that is trust.
The trouble is that developing a specific strategy to gain trust is hard because trust is a many-layered and complex entity. Trust is actually a composite of three layers: functional, affective and bonded trust. Functional trust is all about how well you deliver. Affective trust is focused on building relationships so that people like you and bonded trust is moving to that level when a client just can’t do without you and loves having you around.
If you want to build trust and create more profitable relationships there are 5 things which you need to manage:
Engagement and credibility
if I Google you do I get a rich tapestry of expert comment and recommendation from which to start to trust you? Are you engaged in thought leadership in your industry and do you make this easy for me to find? Building an engaging foundation of deep credibility is the first step to building trust.
Setting and understanding the right expectations
Every exchange is a complex web of expectations. How do you actively manage your clients’ expectations? Do you let timings slip and let disappointment cloud the relationship or are you on top of delivery. A great piece of work delivered late is tarnished and ends up destroying trust. Managing expectations correctly should be your number 1 task.
Honesty and respectfulness
How honest are you? Do you tell it like it is or do you say what you need to get the job? Sometimes the best medicine is honest but respectful feedback. When was the last time you told a client that what they were doing wasn’t up to scratch? This might be painful at the time but leads to a deeper more trusting relationship. Of course, feedback is a two way street – do you solicit clear and honest feedback on your own work?
Keeping commitments and consistency
This is probably the most important element in any trusting relationship. You absolutely must keep commitments and be consistent. A broken commitment especially when the wrong expectations have been set is a major reason for the breakdown of trust.
Trusting and being trustworthy
Everyone, and every business or brand, wants to be trusted. However trust is a two way thing. You can’t expect to receive trust without trusting in the first place. How do you signal that you trust your clients? Trust creating activities delivered early in the selling in process is often a great way to forge trusted relationships. Analyse a potential client’s activity and give this away for free – you create a powerful source of trust building reciprocity which will deliver dividends.
Justin Basini is the author of new book Why Should Anyone Buy From You?