One of the most sustainable ways that freelancers can work independently is by partnering with corporate clients. Since starting to work with corporate clients myself, I’ve used so much of my knowledge from boutique agencies. And while much of my prior industry knowledge was put to use, there were a handful of indispensable practices that I implemented that helped me successfully serve corporate teams. When these 8 tips are used as a part of a holistic approach, they are powerful tools that will equip you to add value to corporate teams, build your portfolio, and forge key connections that will advance your career.
01 Take initiative in connecting with your point-people
One of the first things you can do when you secure a corporate client is to make sure you identify the key people you’ll be in touch with. Whether this is the person who will be directly supervising you or people relatively up on the chain of command who will be reviewing your projects, doing your homework and initiating a reach-out will help them put a face to your name and build the trust you need to do your work effectively.
This can look like messaging them and expressing that you’re looking forward to partnering with them, or making introductions in-office if your freelance work has a hybrid scope.
02 Take initiative in onboarding to their systems
Acclimating to a plethora of client systems comes part and parcel with working as a freelancer. Rather than waiting for the training that will inevitably come with your onboarding, take a couple of hours to explore the platforms you know that your client uses. Watch a YouTube tutorial, take a walk around the corporate email platforms and their associated tools, and look through any storage systems that they’re using to familiarize yourself with their file hierarchy.
This will help take some of the learning curve out of your formal onboarding, show that you are a quick study, and convey that you care about onboarding quickly and efficiently.
03 Be an active participant in collaborative communications
Depending on how your relationship with your corporate client is structured, you may be included in team communications within Slack or a similar platform. Take a moment to introduce yourself to your team when appropriate, and chime in once in a while or react to other people’s messages with an emoji. Although these are small and seemingly inconsequential actions, they will not only communicate your presentness and availability but also your investment in and desire to form meaningful working relationships.
04 Communicate about your deadlines
There are often a few bumps in the road when you’re first onboarding a corporate client, and that’s to be expected. If they’re putting you on ongoing projects rather than a one-off deliverable, you’ll be working hard to develop literacy in their systems, processes, and protocols which will serve you in the coming months. It’s natural for there to be a delay, whether it’s on your end or due to someone else’s delay, but the key here is to be proactive in communicating your deadlines.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to ask for what you need, to request clarification, or to touch base with the project managers to ensure you’re executing correctly. This will help streamline your efficiency, saving your corporate client the cost of wasted hours, and show the project managers and department leads that you’re proactive and that you will help the team meet deadlines, not hinder them.
05 Connection and collaboration open doors
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that relationships are everything. Nearly all of my clients since I started to freelance were recommended by other clients, and it’s been rare that I’ve ever had to solicit work outside of my network. Whether you’re connecting directly with former colleagues and clients or connecting indirectly with your extended network, active and passive connections will catalyze greater success in your business.
This is particularly instrumental when seeking an extension in your contract with a corporate client. Having full-time salaried employees vouch for you and rave about your contributions has invaluable sway when the hiring manager is deciding who to continue partnering with. It will also provide a glowing recommendation to other corporate clients if you do part ways, equipping you to book out your calendar with more well-funded clients who know your value.
06 Prioritize making inter-team connections
As you go through the onboarding process and start to deliver your first projects, you’ll likely notice that there are a few people you come into contact with on a regular basis. (In my case, it’s a few designers that I often work closely with.)
It’s worth your while to make connections with them, not only because they’re valuable professionals in their own right, but because giving work favors is a two-way street. If you can be available to help them out with a small bit of proofreading here or there or take the time to compliment them on their work, they’re much more likely to reciprocate and help you pull your weight when projects get dicey. Not to mention, these rapports make your work so much more enjoyable!
07 Pursue feedback
It can be easy to get pigeonholed in the advice to create what your audience wants to consume, and while that mindset can be helpful, it also needs to be balanced out with a good measure of authenticity. Post as yourself, about the things you’re dealing with in your business and about your unique perspective.
Chances are other people will resonate with what you’re creating, which is rare in an over-saturated market where a lot of people are simply parakeeting the same things in different ways. And by being yourself, you’ll attract the right collaborators and clients, not ones you have to put on a facade with.
08 Always iterate
Although corporate clients are often noteworthy for their structure and systems, there is always room for individuals to evolve and improve their own personal processes and quality of work. As you develop a relationship with your client, make sure that you are incorporating feedback and learnings into your work, continuing to grow as a professional, and showing that you are best-in-class of any freelancers that they could bring on board.
Interested in more inside advice that will help you thrive in your entrepreneurship? Read the blogs here. And if you’re looking to collaborate with a copywriter who can be an indispensable asset and mesh seamlessly into your corporate team, connect today or drop me a line.