I won’t work with people who won’t give me their full name.
I’m new to the world of freelancing and still learning the ropes of client management. For the most part, I remember what it’s like to be on the receiving end and make sure I don’t do any of the things that really annoyed me.
The most puzzling thing thus far has been managing potential clients. There are three essential questions for partnering with a new client: What do they want? What do I think they need? How do these two perspectives match up?
If a client wants something that I don’t think will help them sell books, then it’s not going to work. For example, an author of a human resources book wants to do career media. Yes, you can get coverage but it won’t sell your book.
If I think a client should provide something and they refuse, it’s not going to work. Authors promoting a social media book need to a website and robust social media presence in order to attract media coverage (demonstrating their expertise). No website and I can’t do my job.
Fortunately, most of the time these two perspectives match up. However, I need to know the client and the project before I can offer my perspective and this is where it gets tricky.
If I know next to nothing about the client, I can’t understand the project, offer my expertise, and figure out a way that we can work together. Yet there are potential clients who won’t give me information and carefully ignore every question to clarify them and their project.
Obviously, I’m not demanding trade secrets or inside information—just a basic outline of the client and the project. (Basic = name, contact info, distribution, timing, targets, etc.) And if they can’t tell me something because it’s completely underwraps, all they have to do is say so.
As a freelancer, the idea that time is money becomes exponentially greater. So during that initial client phone call, we can have 30 minutes of talking about strategy, or two hours talking about your business, what may or may not work, and then a potential plan. Two hours which is more or less wasted.
I admit I’m not always the best when thinking on my feet, especially when I have no idea what’s coming. For a major plan, thousands of dollars of client money, and several hours and weeks of my time, I believe some careful consideration is in order.
So I ask for some basic information before I agree to an initial phone call and if they refuse to give it or ignore my entreaties, then it’s over.
Which is why I won’t work with people who won’t give me their full name.