What is it about the events industry and the need to be constantly connected to people? As a freelancer you are always spinning a web of contacts to ensure that you are building a resilient network of relationships whether suppliers, clients or potential colleagues. Building relationships is one element of my role as a freelancer that I really enjoy – it’s like building my perfect agency.
However the search to make these new connections can sometimes be a little tricky. After all, you’re still the freelancer, the outsider, the one who perceptively is costing more money! So how do you overcome this?
First things first, get those relationships right from the start. The minute you walk into your client’s office you put your best foot forward (you have polished your shoes right?), your best smile (friendly, not patronising and definitely not too much teeth!) and if you have to body pump one of your colleagues because that’s what they do then just get on and do it. It’s all about fitting in the quickest way possible and getting on to do the job in hand. By building these relationships in the early stages you are setting yourself up to be part of the team.
You’ve got to build your relationship quickly; listen to your client/colleagues and follow-up on everything you said you would do. Being a reliable member of the team is key to earning respect. You must strike the right balance between openness and confidence – don’t be afraid to stand firm on aspects of a job but ensure you always listen at the same time. Remind yourself that the company has engaged with you for a reason. Make them think that’s the best decision they made that day.
Take things to another level – how you can add that bit more value without over-servicing? You want to leave a lasting impression post-event so you’re the one they go ‘yeah let’s have them for the next event’. Most importantly of all enjoy your professional relationships – it reflects the goodness of what you’re all about – we’re a people-orientated industry after all.
There will be times, however, when things do go wrong for whatever reason and as freelancers we can sometimes over-analyse the situation and blame ourselves, but try and remember that you’re still part of a team. Say to yourself…. have you done the best you could with the tools you were given? If the answer is yes then believe that sometimes things do happen. You aren’t the person to blame if the client is just one of those clients, or you’ve got a difficult colleague who has a personality issue or a supplier that decided to compromise on their quality. So if you’ve done the best you can, acknowledge, learn and move on!
On the other hand, if you are responsible for something going wrong it’s best to own up straight away. We are only human after all and mistakes can happen. Accepting responsibility, learning from it and putting future measures in place will put you in good stead.
I’m a firm believer that your external relationships are a reflection of your success so work hard at them and one day you’ll be thankful when they’ve got your back covered!
Article written by Liz Franklin
Liz is Owner and Chief Event Expert at Liz Franklin Event Management