Last time, we looked at how to manage initial contact with your new client. In this post, Andrew Clappison expands on this to offer advice on what to expect after those initial discussions, and how to handle three possible scenarios:
- If your client is in a rush, then an initial talk might be all it takes to kick-start the project. However, it pays to schedule in some planning time and send a project plan to your client, so that everyone is clear about milestones, deadlines and costs. This is probably an ideal scenario as your project planning time can be part of the paid work, and therefore more thorough, and this way your client could become more of a partner. For some work, a partnership might work better than a client type of relationship, as outlined in one of my earlier posts: ‘Knowledge without borders: Reflection and guidance on entering the world of academic consultancy’
2. More often, after an initial talk you might have to design the project as a proposal, just like if you were a business tendering for a client contract. The client might then accept your proposal or want to alter the work in some way. Remember, your input into designing the project at this stage is unpaid work! It’s also a delicate situation that requires trust, because whilst you want to show your expertise, you also don’t want your client to use your expertise to outline a project brief for another consultant (unless you really do because you don’t want to do the work!). So don’t put in too much detail yet.
3. Sometimes, your client might design the project protocol and send it to you, requiring you to agree to the plan.
All of the above scenarios could lead you to being offered the paid work (Hooray!), but before you reach this stage it’s also possible that your client will be looking to manage costs and to make savings: this is the age of austerity after all! Only accept a reduced rate or number of days to undertake the work if you feel it is genuinely possible, if it is not then think long and hard about whether other potential benefits of completing the work are worth it.
Share your thoughts: if you found these tips useful or you think something has been missed then I would love to know, so please post a comment below. It would be wonderful to hear other people’s experiences, along with any questions you might have.