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Charming clients and winning contracts

negotiation strategiesFreelancing has become more competitive than ever. With a growing number of freelancers vying for the same contracts from the same companies or agencies, it is imperative to embrace the competition to stay ahead of the game, allowing you to continue winning those all-important clients time and time again.

Many agencies and companies are currently on the lookout for freelancers as they require flexible, affordable specialists to carry out work. With such a large selection at their fingertips, here are some top tips for standing out from the crowd (for all the right reasons) so that your freelancing career can flourish in the present saturated market.

Be inspired, not scared

Don’t be put off by competition. Rather than shying away from high profile projects or feeling intimidated by others, use it as motivation to be bold. If other freelancers are winning clients, they must be doing something right, so be inspired to try out your own original ideas.

You should also avoid copying, or worrying too much about your competition, instead concentrating on your own career and playing to your strengths to charm potential clients.

The right place at the right time

Self-promotion can help to raise your profile and attract new opportunities; brand building with yourself as the brand is an important thing to work on. If your name is seen and heard in the right places, companies have a greater chance of knowing about you and what you do. Think about vehicles such as newspapers, magazines, online forums and social media, sticking to the most quality, relevant media.

Networking events are also often a great place to gain clients. However, avoid being overly pushy and instead concentrate on being friendly, professional and charming. Word of mouth can also lead to new projects, so remember that it is always best to finish projects on good terms with clients as they may recommend your services.

Learning when to call

If you’ve had an email from a prospective client, or received a positive reception at a networking event, you then need to break the ice and initiate a discussion about setting up a contract as a strategy consultant or any type of consultant at all.

Reference your earlier conversation if you have met before, showing that you have remembered them, while making certain that they recognise you. Communicate why you’ve got in contact, and if they seem interested, carefully listen to their requirements and outline exactly how you can provide solutions. Be certain to set up further contact before ending the call, avoiding any long pauses in communication which can often disrupt a contract set up.

That first client meeting

During an initial meeting, a prospective client will be assessing whether you are suitable for their project. While they may question your rate and work capacity, remain assured in your abilities and give firm, open and honest (but friendly) answers during negotiations. Prepare a high and low rate so that you can provide reasonable, competitive pay reflective of the time and effort you expect from the client as part of your negotiation strategy.

In turn, this poise can lead to a client having confidence in your abilities, as you project an air of knowledge and experience regarding your service. This self-assurance can also help to quash unrealistic expectations that can harm you later on in a project.

A company may also want to know more about your expertise before they trust you to complete work under their name. Make a good impression by providing them with examples of your clients in similar industries, while also having a number of relevant success stories up your sleeve.

Closing the deal

Once you have outlined and agreed on a rate, timescale and deposit, and the contract has been signed by all parties, you can then get started. Remain organised during this early stage to get started on the right foot, helping to impress your new client so that you are kept in mind for any future projects.


Photo credit: Oxana Sorochan via Flickr cc

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About GregDillon

Greg is the founder of strategy consultancy GD | Inspires and spends his days strategising for various design agencies and clients around the world - see more at He is also a prolific entrepreneur having launched - a website aimed at giving advice and insight to new, existing and veteran freelancers as well as commenting on all things strategic. Feel free to email him at: or follow on Twitter @StratTalking

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