While great technical writing skills will take you a long way, developing good relationships with your clients is essential. After all, it's your clients who ultimately decide whether you will be awarded that next big project. Here are some general guidelines to help you build strong and professional relationships with all of your clients.
Keep your promises: As a technical writer, it's essential that you keep your promises. If you've committed to completing a reference guide by the 13th of the month, it must be done by that time. Pushing the deadline ahead by a day or two may not seem like a big deal to you, but it likely will be to your client. The people you work for want to know that they can count on you to follow through on your promises. Sometimes, meeting tight deadlines can mean staying up all night or missing out on social engagements, but those are sacrifices that technical writers must be willing to make if they hope to be successful.
Keep them informed: If your client has given you two months to complete a reference guide, it's always nice to keep them informed of your progress. This will set their mind at ease by letting them know the project is progressing, and it will also allow them to address any concerns or issues. Even if they don't specifically request progress reports, it's a good idea to send them a short email every now and then to let them know how things are going.
Keep in touch: Many of your clients will have several freelancers that they deal with. If you haven't heard from a client in a while, it won't hurt to send them a short note and ask if they have any work available. Be careful not to overdo it, though. A friendly email every once in a while is fine, but you don't want to pester or annoy your clients.
Keep it professional: Remember, your clients are not your friends. Over time, you may develop friendly relationships with some of them, but in the beginning it's a good idea to keep things professional. Your clients generally don't want to hear about your kids, and they don't want to see pictures of your parents or your pets. When you're sending emails, it's fine to put in a friendly "have a nice weekend," but the main focus of your communications should be the project you are currently working on.
By following through on your promises, keeping in touch, and maintaining professional relationships, you can increase the chances that you will be the person clients turn to when they need a stellar technical writer they can trust with their most important projects.
Last Updated: 05/05/2014