Today there are more professionals freelancing than ever before. The Internet makes it easy to offer your talents to interested clients on a global scale, and being a freelancer can be a terrific way to take control of your career. Being an effective freelancer requires you to take control of your reputation, though.
Here’s why paying more attention to your reputation can pay off in a big way.
Your Reputation Is Your Future
Finding the next job is always a core concern for a dedicated freelancer. While it’s important to promote yourself and attract new clients, it’s even more important to get the most out of the clients that you do land. Managing and maximizing your reputation is the best way to do this. Happy clients translate into referrals. Unhappy clients equate to negative publicity that can be impossible to overcome.
If you think that the most valuable thing an individual client has to offer you is the pay you earn, you need to broaden your horizons. Every client you work for represents a link in a vast interconnected web of potential clients. Managing your reputation is critical if you want to leverage those links and gain full access to all of the opportunities available to you.
Build a Comprehensive Presence
In order to make sure that positive things are being said about you, of course, you have to have your ears open! When it comes to your online reputation, that means being active in the same circles (the same communities, sites, and social networks) as your clients. By establishing a presence of your own you make it far easier to pick up what’s being said about you. Being in the right online circles also enables you to engage in two-way communication.
It can get prohibitively time-consuming to ingratiate yourself into every one of your clients’ networks, obviously. Unless you are specializing heavily in a given industry, don’t worry about accessing its most specialized communities. Make sure you’re findable on all of the common networks that your clients tend to use (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). Take the time to make all of your various profiles and accounts professional and consistent.
Address Issues Professionally
The heart and soul of managing your reputation is dealing with adverse attention. When an unsatisfied client starts to voice his or her displeasure, your reputation soon suffers. Reach out to clients who have problems with your work to determine how you can make them happy. Don’t worry about the fact that this dialog is often carried out in publically-accessible channels nowadays. This can actually work to your advantage. You want other potential clients to see that you go the extra mile to meet or exceed expectations.
One of the best ways to manage adverse attention is to do everything you can to head it off before it goes public. Don’t take any of your jobs for granted. Check in with your clients before calling a job complete to confirm that they are satisfied. This helps tremendously in cutting off negative publicity and it can even help you identify ways to improve the service you offer all of your customers.
When you rely on freelance work to pay the bills, it can feel like every moment that you aren’t spending working is wasted. Don’t shortchange yourself by ignoring your reputation! Investing just a little bit of time into managing your reputation is a great way to safeguard your future and ensure that you will be able to stay independent for many years to come.
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