Sweaty palms and a racing heart just before hitting “send” or making that call? You’re not the only one who’s felt like they’re dialing into a den of lions rather than just checking in with a client.
Finding that balance between being professional and not sounding like a robot in your email or on the call can turn into an unexpected art form. We’ve all had that moment where we overthink our choice of words, or play out the worst-case scenarios in our mind. But fear not, because there are some straightforward strategies to help you communicate with confidence and keep your cool.
It all starts with recognizing that your expertise is valuable and your client needs it—that’s why they hired you after all. From there, it’s about preparation and knowing a couple of tricks to bring your best self to every interaction, be it through a carefully crafted email or a chirpy phone call that leaves both you and your client feeling upbeat and clear about the road ahead.
Understanding Anxiety in Communication
You might find your palms getting sweaty before hitting “send” on an email to a client. Let’s untangle that knot in your stomach and turn your communication game around!
Anxiety can be a pesky sidekick when you’re reaching out to clients via email or calls. Your mind races, thoughts of “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios play out like a bad movie. But don’t stress—it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit on edge when you’re poised to hit the ‘send’ button or dial a number. Here’s a quick breakdown of why this happens:
- Emotional Responses: The anticipation of a reply or the fear of misinterpretation can trigger an emotional whirlwind. This is because you may associate the response (or lack thereof) with your professional competence or self-worth.
- Physiological Reactions: Symptoms like increased heart rate and shallow breathing are common when nerves step into the picture. These responses are your body’s way of preparing to face a perceived challenge.
- Overthinking: Before and after communication, overthinking can kick in, spiraling into a funnel of anxiety. Asking yourself, “Did I say everything right?” or “What if they misunderstood?” just adds fuel to the fire.
To combat these responses:
- Breathe: Take deep breaths before you begin typing or dialing to calm your nervous system.
- Prepare: Have a clear outline or script of your key points to build confidence in your message.
- Positive Reinforcement: Remind yourself of past successful interactions to bolster your confidence.
Remember, with some practice and a few deep breaths, you’ll find your groove in managing email and call anxiety. It’s all about stepping past those initial jitters and embracing the confidence within you.
Preparing to Contact Clients
We all know what it’s like to feel our stomachs tie up in knots just before hitting “send” on an email to a freelance client. Let’s turn that anxiety into anticipation, because you’re about to get the low-down on smoothing out those jitters.
Researching the Client
Before you pick up the phone or draft that email, do a little digging to understand who you’re reaching out to. Check out their website, recent news, and even their LinkedIn profile. Knowing their latest project or a new milestone they’ve celebrated gives you a solid starting point. It’s not just about being informed—it’s about showing that you care enough to learn about them. A personalized touch can set you apart from a sea of faceless emails.
Crafting Your Message
Your message is your first impression, so make it count. Begin with a clear subject line—think of it as the headline of your email. Inside, be concise; get to the point without sacrificing politeness. A touch of humor can break the ice, but keep it professional. Here’s a quick checklist for your message:
- Subject: Engaging and direct
- Greeting: Warm and personal
- Body: Brief, with a clear purpose
- Close: Friendly sign-off with a call to action
Practicing Your Pitch
If you’re calling, rehearse your pitch to sound confident and collected. Anticipate questions they might ask and have answers ready. Picture a friendly chat over coffee, not a high-stakes interrogation. You’re just two professionals talking shop. A practice round or two with a friend—or even your reflection—can chase those nervous butterflies away. Keep your tone upbeat and make sure every word of your pitch feels like you.
Establishing a Positive Mindset
Email anxiety hits the best of us, right? One minute you’re confidently whacking away at the keys, the next you’re frozen with a cursor blinking mockingly back at you. But guess what? You’ve got this, and with a couple of zesty mindset strategies, you’ll be sailing through your inbox and client calls like a pro.
Affirmations and Confidence Building
List of Affirmations to Pep You Up:
- I am a capable and skilled writer.
- My work provides value to my clients.
- I communicate clearly and effectively.
Starting your day with a pep talk in the mirror might feel a bit Hollywood, but hey, if it works for superheroes, it can work for you too. Tell yourself: your work rocks, your emails are crystal clear, and clients are lucky to have you on speed dial.
- Write down three successes from your past week.
- Note down specific skills you used to achieve them.
- Remind yourself of these wins before making calls or sending emails.
Prepare Your Points:
- Point 1: The gist of what you want to communicate.
- Point 2: Any questions you need answers to.
- Point 3: A polite call-to-action or what you want to happen next.
Anticipate the conversation by jotting down key points you want to cover in your call or email. It’s like having a cheat sheet—it keeps you on track and away from the panic button. Plus, it takes a load off your mind since you’re not trying to juggle everything in your head.
- Imagine the conversation going well.
- Visualize the client responding positively.
- End the mental run-through with a satisfying resolution.
Before hitting send or dial, take a moment to close your eyes and play the scene in your head where everything goes as smooth as a jazz tune. Zero awkwardness, just smooth talking and maybe a jazz hand thrown in for yourself because why not?
Utilizing Technology to Your Advantage
Let’s kick that anxiety to the curb. Technology is the superhero sidekick you didn’t know you needed, ready to swoop in and save the day (and your nerves).
Email Templates and Tools
Email templates are lifesavers when you find yourself rewriting the same types of messages. They can be personalized and tweaked for each client, saving you time and maintaining consistency in your communication. For instance, Psych Central discusses the anxiety that emails can cause and hints at the usefulness of templates in reducing this. Tools like Boomerang or Grammarly can also help you schedule emails or double-check grammar, so you never send a message with “Best retards” instead of “Best regards.
Scheduling Calls and Organizers
Let’s talk about scheduling calls. Gone are the days of back-and-forth emails to find a time that works. Use tools like Calendly or Doodle to let your clients pick a time that’s good for both of you. Just set your availability, share your link, and let them book a slot. It’s a small step for you, but a giant leap for your peace of mind.
Pair this with a digital organizer, like Trello or Asana, to keep track of projects, deadlines, and follow-ups. You’ll always be on top of your game, and that means fewer last-minute scrambles and more time for coffee breaks (or is it wine o’clock yet?).
Communication Best Practices
Client communication doesn’t have to be so scary. Let’s cut through that email fog and get you chatting on the phone like you’re old buddies.
Effective Email Strategies
Keep it Short and Sweet: Clients love emails that get to the point. Start with a friendly greeting, then dive right into what you need. Use bullet points for key details—they’re easier on the eyes.
- Subject Line Savvy: Make it snappy and informative. If it’s a project update, try something like “Quick Update: Project X Progress”.
- Structure Wisely: Begin with a warm hello, state your purpose, and finish with a clear call-to-action or question.
- Tone: Aim for warm professionalism. A touch of humour can work, but don’t overdo it.
- Grammar: Use tools like Grammarly to polish your email into gleaming perfection.
Phone Call Etiquette
Prepare and Conquer: Before you dial, jot down the points you want to cover. A handy cheat sheet can turn nerves into confidence.
- Greetings Matter: Start with a smile in your voice and their name—it sets a friendly stage.
- Listen Then Lead: Hear them out, then guide the conversation gently. You’ve got this, just like a pro.
End on a High Note:
- Summary: Recap the main points to ensure you’re both on the same page.
- Next Steps: Be clear about what’s happening next, and if there’s going to be a Round Two (aka another call or meeting).
Handling Rejection and Setbacks
Nobody likes to get that heart-sinking feeling when an email bounces back with a “no thanks” or, worse, tumbleweeds instead of a response. But here’s the good news: each “no” is a stepping stone to a yes that fits just right.
Learning from Rejections
Rejection, that not-so-sweet but inevitable part of freelancing, is actually your undercover mentor. When a client says “pass,” take a moment to sift through their feedback—if you’ve got any—and highlight anything actionable. Was it your pitch angle? Or maybe the timing wasn’t right? Jot down these notes and use them to tailor your next attempt. Picture it like tweaking your recipe until your cookies are the talk of the town.
To-Dos After a Rejection:
- Reflect: Was there specific feedback to learn from?
- Adjust: Tweak your approach based on what you’ve gleaned.
- Keep a record: Track patterns in rejections to find areas for improvement.
Bouncing back from setbacks is like building a muscle—it gets stronger with practice. Start by setting small, manageable goals for your outreach and celebrations for when you achieve them. Staying connected with a community of freelance writers can also be a game-changer; they’re a goldmine for wisdom and war stories. Remember, every big name was once a newbie facing down a pile of “no thank you”s before hitting their stride.
Quick Resilience Boosters:
- Set realistic goals for daily or weekly outreach.
- Connect with other freelancers for support and advice.
- Celebrate small victories to fuel your motivation.
Building Long-Term Relationships
Fear of rejection is like waiting for a text back from a crush—nerve-wracking but oh, so worth it when you get a smiley reply.
Personal Touch: Tailor your follow-up emails or calls by referencing previous discussions. Did they mention a new office pet? Ask how Fido’s settling in. It shows you listen and don’t see them as just another invoice number.
- Timing is Key: Wait about 48 to 72 hours before following up. It’s the sweet spot between eager and too busy to breathe.
- Clear Subject Line: In emails, use a subject that stands out and directly relates to your pitch or previous conversation.
- Be Persistent, Not Pesky: It’s a fine line—follow up twice, maybe thrice, then leave the ball in their court. They’ll appreciate the space.
Client Retention Strategies
Consistent Quality: Delivering your best work every time is like that favorite coffee shop never messing up your order—it keeps you coming back.
- feedback Loops: Create an open dialogue for feedback. Constructive criticism can be a goldmine for growth and shows you’re committed to excellence.
- Regular Check-Ins: Schedule casual coffee chats (virtual works too!) to discuss their ongoing needs and how you can continue to support them. These can turn one-off projects into long-term partnerships.
- Exclusive Offers: Who doesn’t love a good perk? Offer loyal clients first dibs on your new services or a discount on the next project. It sweetens the deal and can make them feel valued.
Balancing Persistence with Patience
Finding the sweet spot between being the tenacious freelancer and the cool, collected pro can kick those jitters to the curb.
- Be Timely, Not Clingy: Timing is everything. Wait at least 48 hours before following up on an email. With calls, give it a few business days. Clients are busy bees, just like you! Follow-ups are your friend, but don’t become that overly attached freelancer who can’t take a hint.
- Quality Over Quantity: Think impactful, not incessant. Make your emails and calls count. Provide value in each interaction, rather than barraging clients with messages that echo the same tune. One well-crafted email beats ten rushed ones.
- Read The Room: Learn to interpret cues. If a client generally takes a week to respond, align with their pace. Expecting an immediate response can ramp up your anxiety unnecessarily.
- Set Clear Expectations: Communicate about communication. When starting with new clients, discuss preferred frequencies and methods of updates. This mutual agreement can preempt a lot of nail-biting.
- Detach and Breathe: After making contact, distract yourself. Dive into other projects, hit the gym, or grab coffee with a friend. Anxiety often softens with a bit of distance.
Keep in mind, your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth. Stick to these pointers to confidently navigate the hustle, without letting the hurry scurry you into a frenzy.