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Five Tips for Better Client Relationships

In the competitive world of freelance grant writing, landing a client can be challenging – a greater challenge, even, than writing the grant. All too often, you finish with one client only to struggle to find the next, and are thrust back into the long and uncertain process of inquiries and bidding wars. Thankfully, you have as your ally. Providing a simple, comprehensive platform that brings grant seekers to you, makes it easy to find your next client.

And when you’ve found them, you want to do everything you can to not only keep them interested in you as a writer, but also in you as a person. Investing in a good relationship pays dividends. By establishing a positive and productive working relationship with your client, you not only increase the likelihood that the client will work with you again, but also your reputation among other prospective clients grows.

For grant writers, the key to a successful grant is in the details. The more you know about your client, and the more open and candid you can be with each other, the better prepared you will be to write an outstanding grant. Here are five tips to developing a stellar work relationship with your clients.

1. Be Interested

When grant seekers search for grants, it is typically from a place of passion. Grant seekers tend to be nonprofit and small business owners who have a deep and vested interest in their cause. Sharing that interest and meeting them at their level of enthusiasm is a surefire way to help you stand out from the crowd. Showing interest in someone else’s goal is like a key; it opens a person up and unlocks a whole new world of insight. The same is true for client relationships. Everyone responds to energy and passion, and a shared interest is often the initial spark to many a great and lasting relationship.   

2. Be Attentive

You have connected with your client over your shared interest. They’ve opened up to you and are eager to tell you all about their grant needs and expectations. Now you need only listen. But being an attentive listener can be an involved task. There is often so much information coming at you that it is easy to miss crucial details which may weaken your work – and business relationship – down the line. A good strategy is to be reflexive. Repeat the client’s thoughts back to them; this will allow them to build upon their ideas and give you an even more comprehensive picture. Ask detailed questions and take extensive notes. The more information you have, the better you serve yourself and your client.  

3. Be Personable

In any relationship, business or otherwise, communication. Is. Key. If you can’t speak openly, you close yourself to opportunity. Be clear and candid about your expectations and abilities. Know your worth. Ensure that all parties are on the same page before moving forward. If you have any qualms or questions, express them. If you’re struck with an idea about how to add value for your client, let them know. Inspiration goes both ways, and there is much creativity to be had when writing a grant. Always keep the lines of communication open and maintain an ongoing dialogue with your client.

4. Be Responsive

Of course, that ongoing dialogue must be ­ongoing. Don’t let the conversation go stale. Grant seekers appreciate a responsive grant writer. Grants often have a tight deadline attached to them, and a client will be stressing over it as much as you. Do not wait too long to answer your client’s questions. Your responsiveness could mean the difference between a renewed contract or having to start your search all over again. Taking the initiative to give regular feedback to your client will not only put them – and you – at ease, but it will also put your further in their trust AND often give you helpful guidance for how best to proceed with the grant.

5. Be Punctual

In Jamaica, the locals have the concept of “soon come”. When set with a deadline, this assures that they will be along in two minutes. Or two hours. Or two days, depending upon how they feel. While this works great for Jamaica, a determined and professional grant writer is ill-served by such a lax attitude with their time – or their client’s. A grant seeker is often working against the clock to meet a critical due date, so when they set a deadline, you must meet it. Be prompt, and if for whatever reason you cannot, let your client know why as soon as possible and come to a resolution.

A good relationship with your client is the foundation of a long and prosperous collaboration. By being professional, involved, and by practicing good communication, you’ll not only be on the fast-track to getting clients, but you’ll also produce some of the best grant writing of your career. Notes

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