One nice thing about being a freelance writer is you do most of your work from home. This is especially valuable for me right now, since I get to work right next to my baby son. This means flexible hours, casual day every day, and fewer work-related expenses like gas for the commute and eating out for lunch.
But sometimes you actually go out to meet a client. Personally, I like the change of pace. I get out of the house, and get to visit with people. I have to admit that the move from running a freakin’ karate school to staying home in front of a computer was kind of jarring.
A risk freelancers sometimes face is forgetting how to act in professional situations, which can mean blowing an interview or leaving a bad taste in a client’s mouth. This week was my second meeting with a new client, who seems to be happy with my work and presentation thus far. Here are some of the things I reminded myself to remember not to forget.
- Observe basic hygiene. Shower, shave, and check yourself in a mirror. If you live alone and freelance, this can be easy to forget.
- Dress professionally. I showed up for my first meeting in a suit. The staff was dressed casually, including the owner in t-shirt and jeans. My second meeting I came in slacks and a polo. When in doubt, overdress.
- Shake hands with everybody you talk with. Look people in the eye. Ask them questions about themselves, especially things relevant to the assignment you’ll be working on.
- Show up on time, and fully prepared for what you’ll be doing that day.
- Work to the schedule you agreed on. If you said things would take 30 minutes, don’t run on for an hour.
- Resist the temptation to shoot the breeze. Half of all business communication is small talk between colleagues, but you’re not part of that tribe yet. If you can’t resist the urge to visit, consider taking your point of contact to lunch.
- Use professional language and demeanor at all times. No jokes. No cussing. No innuendo.
For people who work in the businesses world every day, many of these things become habits. At-home freelancers sometimes need a little reminding.
Thanks for listening.