How To Be a Better Freelancer: Listen to Your Clients

After reading Seth Godin’s post on how to listen, I realized that listening is the most important thing you can do in business (and in life). It’s how you make friends. It’s how you fall in love. It’s how you get more clients. It’s how you make happier clients (yep, you can make happier clients :).

A few days ago, I referred a developer to one of my clients. And today, my client emailed me saying the developer kept trying to push a retainer on him that was clearly out of the client’s budget and – it gets worse – it was absolutely not what the client needed. It’s a small amount of work. It’s sporadic and occasional. The retainer model clearly doesn’t fit. So the developer lost the deal because he didn’t listen – clearly he was focused on his best interests rather than the client’s best interests.

If you want to get more work, if you want to win more projects, if you want to be better at your job and better at life, listen. You need to listen to be successful. You need to listen to be a good consultant. And you need to listen to be a good friend.

If you’re a terrible listener and you know it, read Seth Godin’s post and start practicing now. Next time you’re in a conversation, focus on listening and understanding the other person. Repeat back to them what they’re saying in your own words. Say “I hear you saying…” and “it sounds like you want…” to prove to them (and to yourself) that you’re listening. Be an active listener, pay attention, and focus on them.

So the next time you’re talking to a client, a prospect, or a friend, make an effort to listen. I guarantee you they’ll appreciate it. And it just might be enough to make them decide to hire you, buy from you, or listen to you instead of the competition.