Keeping in touch with old clients.
This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to an excellent question from Dex Sorbet AKA Anonymous.
“I’ve worked on two excellent projects for a really high profile client in the past year.
When the projects finally went live I dropped them an email to say how great they were and how happy I was to have been a part of them.
I got a lovely reply that ended with — ‘please do keep in touch for any future projects that might be up your street.’
But I don’t quite know what to do with that!
How can I turn that vague and polite sign-off into something I can be proactive about? Do I send occasional emails to say “Hi” in the hope that they might have something in the works? Or will that make me seem a bit desperate?
How do I maintain a relationship with a client who might have work in the future without being a bit weird?”
• • • • •
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Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.
Here’s what was said in this episode:
Comments on the previous episode:
[00:01:24] – Frankie
Hello. You’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast, where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie and this is Steve.
[00:01:33] – Steve
Hello! Yes, each episode we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community, do our best to answer it. But we started each episode by looking back at the last episode.
Last time we were talking about…
[00:01:44] – Frankie
It was Matt talking about taking time off for Christmas.
[00:01:48] – Steve
[00:01:49] – Frankie
[00:01:49] – Steve
I remember. Yeah. Oh, my gosh. That was October we were talking about that.
[00:01:54] – Frankie
Yes, before half-term.
[00:01:56] – Steve
And now it is nearly is Christmas!
Jo Shock got in touch. Jo says:
“It’s so important to set boundaries around checking emails, but also to remember that there are many other ways that clients can access you if they want to: DMs, text, WhatsApp. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
But the good thing about the chaos of Christmas, and with added birthdays, too, is that once you get swept up in the madness, it becomes harder to care about anything other than real life emergencies and chocolate.”
[00:02:21] – Frankie
I forgot he had two birthdays in there! Both his daughter’s birthdays are in December.
[00:02:26] – Frankie
Ruth Buckingham says:
“I think the hardest thing is to stick to your own boundaries. It can really help to pop the dates in your email signature so that you can alert people that you’ll be unavailable. I have one client that always does a Christmas Boxing Day sale. But we’ve now got into the rhythm where we write the content quite early and schedule it, so I only need to pop on to check if it’s all sent out okay. Just because you’re self-employed shouldn’t mean that you need to be available at all times, but it does take a bit of discipline.”
[00:02:53] – Steve
Bethany Carter says:
“I always take two weeks off over Christmas, which is not an easy task as a social media freelancer. If your line of work is anything like mine, I would recommend preparing and scheduling content or ads before the break to take you up until the second or third week of January. Clients might not expect you to deliver work before Christmas, but they do like to pop in your inbox within the first couple of days back in January, chasing work. Plus, the enquiries come in thick and fast that week, too. It’s a lot of work to fit in over late November, early December, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind over Christmas.”
[00:03:28] – Steve
I like that. That’s like batch cooking.
[00:03:30] – Frankie
Yes, it is.
[00:03:31] – Steve
Fill that social media freezer.
[00:03:33] – Frankie
[00:03:35] – Frankie
Helen Greenwood says:
“I decided I was going to create an advent calendar on my social media last year. 24 days of content. I did it, but I was not filled with tidings of comfort and joy at the end. I was full of remorse and rage towards myself. Also, Lebkuchen. How do you say that? Lebkuchen.
Our answer to this week's question:
[00:08:49] – Steve
I think instead of a detective name, we should use something from your tub of sorbet, as the anonymous name. Sorbet in itself is quite a nice surname.
[00:08:57] – Frankie
What about Xantham? Dextrose? Dexter?
[00:09:06] – Steve
[00:09:07] – Steve
Our question comes from an anonymous source. We’re going to call them Dex Sorbet. Hey, Dex.
“I’ve worked on two excellent projects for a really high profile client in the past year. When the projects finally went live, I dropped them an email to say how great they were and how happy I was to have been a part of them. I got a lovely reply that ended with, “Please do keep in touch for any future projects that might be up your street”. But I don’t quite know what to do with that.
How can I turn that vague and polite sign off into something I can be proactive about? Do I send occasional emails to say ‘hi’ in the hope that they might have something in the works? Or will that make me seem a bit desperate? How do I maintain a relationship with a client who might have work in the future without being a bit weird?”
[00:09:49] – Steve
What was the sentence they wrote? ‘Please do keep in touch for any future projects that might be up your street’.
[00:09:55] – Frankie
Oh, look, delivery…!
[00:09:57] – Steve
Well, thank you. Cheers.
[00:10:00] – Frankie
[00:10:04] – Steve
Oh, it’s an agency whose podcast I edited and they’ve sent a little note and it says, “We are now certified B Corp”. Which is amazing, actually. It’s very hard to become a B Corp.
Well, do you know what? What apt timing, because that company have just stayed in my head, have they not? Imagine that they’re sending this to all of their clients with this good news that they are now B Corp.
[00:10:26] – Frankie
I mean, I don’t think Dex needs to send out quite an extravagant package like that, but, yes, you make a fair point.
[00:10:32] – Steve
‘Please do keep in touch for any future projects that might be up your street’. It’s really odd wording.
I mean, how is Dex meant to know what projects they have got that might be up their street? It should be something like, “Please do keep in touch so we can keep you in mind for any future projects that might be up your street”. Weirdos. Now you’ve confused somebody so much that they’ve been tempted to write into a podcast!
If you haven’t already, connect with these people on LinkedIn.
[00:11:02] – Frankie
LinkedIn, man, it’s where it’s at. I’m increasingly like, LinkedIn is powerful stuff.
[00:11:06] – Steve
I had somebody last week contact me about a potential job. The job didn’t come off, but I sought them out on LinkedIn and said, “Hey, just thought we’d connect here”, because now I’m going to show up in their sphere, if they’re active on LinkedIn, and they’ll see what I’m up to. So I’m more likely to be top of mind. And that’s what it’s about, isn’t it? Sort of staying top of mind when the correct future projects up?
Yes, they’ll know that it’s up your street because they’ve worked with you before, but you kind of almost need to be parked on the street…? Ready to park…? No… There must be some sort of analogy about going round the block, maybe on the street, so that they see you on the street and go, “Oh, Dex is on the street!”
No, it doesn’t quite work.
[00:11:52] – Frankie
Yes, totally right about connecting with them on the internet so that you pop up every time you post. However, that does assume that A —, you post and B — what you’re posting about is relevant to them.
I’ve had a bit of a revelation about LinkedIn recently and I was like, “Oh, I should be using it like a portfolio!” And when I’ve got new work that I’ve done for a client, I should literally be posting about that with images on LinkedIn. I know it sounds really basic, but I just haven’t done that as a designer in the past and I’ve done that a couple of times now and it’s gone really well.
[00:12:26] – Steve
What do you know?
[00:12:27] – Frankie
[00:12:27] – Steve
And as well as them seeing your posts, remember to comment on their posts and other people within the network and things like that. In fact, these people who have just sent me this stuff through the post, like, I’m connected with them on LinkedIn. And so even though I haven’t worked with them for a long time, I have been interacting. I’ve been watching their progress of becoming a B Corp.
Yeah, commenting… You know how you feel a bit about urgh about posting on LinkedIn? So does everybody. And therefore, if you comment on something and start interacting with it, the person feels so much better and they’re going to remember you as the person who made them feel better. Even if it’s not that blatantly written in their head, subconsciously, it’s going in.
[00:13:07] – Frankie
And it’s true that your activity might not come up in their feed, but if you’re literally interacting with their content, then your name is there by default, LinkedIn or otherwise.
I would get back in touch with them after that email and be like, “I’m updating my portfolio or my website or whatever it is, and I’d love to get a testimonial from you”. So you could ask for one via email, or you could even say, “Can you do it through LinkedIn so it shows up on my profile and then I can use it elsewhere as well?”
[00:13:33] – Steve
It’s so easy to do. Scroll down your profile, there’s a ‘recommendations’ bit. Click on that, find the person, say what your relationship was, so… they were your client, and send it off and just ask very nicely.
[00:13:44] – Frankie
But I would also email them about it as well. So you’re continuing that conversation on email. I wouldn’t just send them a notification through LinkedIn because they might just ignore it. I would keep it like a request in email and also get consent from them to use that testimonial elsewhere, like your website and stuff.
[00:14:00] – Steve
Then, I mean, there’s various obvious touch points across the year. Some are actually, weirdly, to say that you’re not available for work. So, “I’m going to be off during this point in the summer or off at this point at Christmas”.
[00:14:15] – Frankie
But would you send that to your past clients?
[00:14:18] – Steve
Yeah. Well, then you can say, “As always, if you’ve got something I can help you with…”
Or you’re saying it makes it look like you want to get in touch with, you’re not available?
[00:14:28] – Frankie
Yeah, I don’t know.
[00:14:30] – Steve
Am I wrong? This is why I’ve got no work!
[00:14:32] – Frankie
I think it’s good to have excuses to show up in their inbox, for sure. You could literally ask them to sign up for your newsletter if you have one and — if you actually send stuff out unlike me! — that’s obviously one way to keep in touch. But then there are some freelancers who do a sort of end of year review or maybe twice a year type email?
[00:14:50] – Steve
I think a quarterly one’s quite good, isn’t it? Like, “Here’s what I’ve been up to”.
[00:14:54] – Frankie
But the end of year one, I mean… We’re in mid November, late November now. This is a great opportunity. Think of it like… I’ve got a lot of American family and they send those cheesy end of year, like family letters. Do you know what I mean? It’s like, “This year Johnny went to Uni”. Yeah, all that stuff. See it a bit like that.
[00:15:14] – Steve
“My, look how my business has grown!”
[00:15:16] – Frankie
Yeah. And they’ll be a part of that if you’ve worked with them recently.
And then even sending them something around Christmas time — a physical Christmas card or a virtual one, or I mean… Steve just got a lot of expensive gumph in the post… But it doesn’t have to be that over the top!
[00:15:31] – Steve
No, but you see, this is one good thing about staying in touch with people on their socials is that if something comes along where it’s appropriate to send them some sort of gift — it could be a personal event or it could be a business event where they’ve just won something, you know? Then that’s quite a nice thing to do because some people get sent a lot of gifts at Christmas and then yours might get hidden amongst everybody else’s.
[00:15:55] – Frankie
I don’t even think it needs to be extravagant or expensive, I really don’t. It’s just the act of showing that you are thinking of them means that you’re front and centre when they’re commissioning the next project, basically.
[00:16:09] – Steve
Also, there’s nothing wrong in replying to that email and I don’t think it makes you seem ‘desperate’. Desperate would be sending it every single week.
[00:16:17] – Frankie
[00:16:18] – Steve
Desperate would be only ever getting in touch to say, have you got any work? Fact is, they asked you to stay in touch. They clearly really enjoyed working with you, so yeah, don’t feel awkward about that.
[00:16:29] – Frankie
I mean, I think there’s a line. I think it can be too regular, particularly if they haven’t asked for it, like, if they haven’t signed up for your newsletter. If they signed up for something from you and you’re sending out regularly, that’s different. But if you’re just emailing them once a month going, “Hey!” that might be a bit much. I think quarterly is about right.
But what you say in that email, I don’t know, could you make it useful for them somehow?
[00:16:53] – Steve
Oh, yes. No, but that is a good point, actually.
There is that ‘tactic’, call it what you will… Basically, if you see something relevant to that client’s business send them that. “Hey, I was reading this thing and I thought of you.” Only if it’s actually really, genuinely going to be of interest to them — send it to them.
An example, like… I make videos and edit podcasts, right? I could send an example of a podcast or a video — even if I’ve not made it — to somebody and go, “I saw this social video and I thought of you. Have you thought of doing anything like this anyway? Hope all is well.”
You don’t work for them, but you are invested in some way in them and care about their business and you celebrate them. You’re one of their cheerleaders…
[00:17:38] – Frankie
…but also, you are!
[00:17:42] – Steve
Yeah, sorry it’s not all an act!
[00:17:44] – Frankie
I don’t want it to sound really cynical that you want to ‘look’ like you care. You do care.
Yeah, you do care and you want to work with them again because it was such a positive experience for everybody. Like, I don’t think there’s anything desperate about that.
And also, keeping regular communication with them is key because teams change so fast. People leave — they don’t tell you. So building those relationships outside of email is good, but also checking in via email so they can go, “Oh, well, actually, I’m leaving. Johnny’s going to be looking after this going forward. Here’s his email address”. That’s really useful intel to have.
If the staff does change, the likelihood is they won’t contact you because they don’t know you exist and you know who they’re going to hire instead of you? The person showing up in their LinkedIn feed, the person emailing them.
What’s the thing on your podcast…?
[00:18:34] – Steve
“Nice guys get paid last”.
[00:18:36] – Frankie
Right. Who said that?
[00:18:37] – Steve
[00:18:38] – Frankie
So while you don’t want to come across as weird, you do want to be visible. It’s a balance though isn’t it? It’s a balance because if you are too much, then you become irritating and then they definitely won’t hire you — so you want to get it right.
[00:18:51] – Steve
Yeah, I’ve got the feeling Dex, the very fact that you’re asking that question and phrasing it in that way suggests that you will get it right.