Perhaps one of the best ways to answer this question is to simply reverse the roles and ask yourself, “If I was the client, what would make me crazy?” When you are dealing with your clients – or any other businesses for that matter – what impresses you, or not?
One of the most important things for me is good communication. There is nothing more annoying than someone who doesn’t get back to you, especially if you may be in the running for a job – so don’t be too unavailable.
We live in a world now where everything is expected to be done at lightning speed. In the good old days, it was understood that a photographer might be on location somewhere and unable to return your call right away, let alone your tweet, email or text! Now, if you don’t respond immediately, you may have lost the job. So it’s not enough to simply check your emails. Be sure to respond to the most urgent ones, even if it’s a brief reply – you can get back to them more fully when you are back in your office, and so on.
My second thought on this question is the importance of listening. One of the key strategies you can employ when dealing with a client is to listen! Even if you don’t like what you are hearing, listen first so you can educate yourself as to where the clients are coming from and what their needs are – before you attempt to bring them around to where you may be coming from.
The more you listen, the more your questions will be answered. We may naturally be eager to put our own thoughts on the table, and be a part of the creative process and hopefully get the job, but know when to talk and when to listen! And don’t be afraid to ask questions, once it’s your turn. There are no stupid questions.
My third suggestion is all about your attitude. No one wants to work with someone who is a difficult personality (and that’s me putting it politely!). Remember, there’s no “I” in “team” and your client is most likely looking for a team player, someone who can collaborate and add something to the project.
When you have a positive and kind attitude, it will be seen by the people around you. A client will notice how you deal with your staff, for example. Do you remember everyone’s name? Is the guy sweeping the floors just as important as the art director? Yes. Remember that at the end of the day you are still a service provider, and your professionalism needs to stand out – along with your stunning images.
After spending a number of years in the commercial photography industry, Louisa Curtis now works to help photographers refine their vision, target the appropriate audience, and create and implement internet-driven business plans. Chatterbox Enterprises
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