work at home resource

Making “First Contact” with a Client
By Jan K

The day has arrived! You’ve started your business and you’re about to discuss a project (or order) with your first client.

So…what do you say?

Forget the fact that you really want or need this client. Forget that you’d do just about anything to get the job. Remember that you are now a business. Remember that you are in business to make money (and, hopefully, a profit).

Don’t Be Too Personal

You should definitely be friendly and personable, but don’t be too personal. Your client doesn’t need to know your life’s story. Keep all conversations on track by sticking to business. Answer questions with truthful answers---don’t promise the moon, because you’ll be expected to deliver it.

Congratulations! It Looks Like You Are Going to Get the Job!

Communication with the prospective client is going very well, and you are confident that you are going to get the job. Now is the time to have the “How am I going to get paid?” conversation.

Always keep in mind that you are a business. You want to be paid. You have an expectation as to how and when the client is going to pay you. Don’t be bashful about beginning the discussion:

“I’m looking forward to this opportunity to work with you. I do want to talk about how I’m going to be paid. My expectation is that you’ll pay me immediately after I deliver the finished job. I normally send an invoice along with the job, and ask that you pay me upon receipt of the invoice. Is there any reason why you won’t be able to make immediate payment?”

If the job is going to be on-going for several weeks, you might like to broach the subject of being made on an interim basis:  

“For jobs like this that are going to last more than 3 weeks, I ask to be paid for work done to-date at the end of each week [or “for each segment of the job as it is finished”].” Is there any reason why I would not be able to be paid weekly [or “after I send each segment”]?”  

The objective here is that you cannot shy away from having this conversation. Again, remember that you are a business and you are in business to make money. That means you expect to be paid. Don’t make the mistake of working for a client who is unwilling to talk about making payment. You can be flexible and understand that sometimes companies have a set procedure for paying invoices, but the bottom line is to have a clear understanding of how and when you are going to be paid before you take the job.

Should You Take a Job that You Don’t Think You Can Handle

Regardless of how “hungry” you are for the work (or how desperate the feeling that you really need to get the job), you do have to be mindful of your limitations. If the client is asking for the impossible, and you have some immediate doubts that you can deliver, then be realistic enough about yourself and your capabilities to turn down the work.

It is also possible that you could do the job, but the client wants it sooner than you know you can finish it, or wants to pay far less than you are asking. Once again, don’t be afraid to say that you can’t take the job with the time or money restrictions imposed by the client.

Know How to Negotiate

Try to maintain a positive attitude, while you are turning down the work:  

“I understand that you need it by Thursday, but I cannot have it done by then. I can get it to you by Friday afternoon. Will this work for you?

“I appreciate the fact that you are working within a tight budget, and I’d like to accommodate you, but I’ll need at least $XXX to be able to the whole job. Perhaps there is a specific section that you definitely need to have done, and we can work out a deal for that.” 

As you can see, the idea is not to actually turn down the work. Try to negotiate for a different deadline or a different portion of the job that you can do. This indicates to the prospective client that you have some flexibility and that you are making a good effort to accommodate the need for your service. 

Should You Take a Job that You Really Don’t Want to Do?

There’s no bigger mistake that you can make. If your brain starts to raise warning flags about the job before you get to the end of the conversation with the client, then you should pay attention to them. For whatever reason, if you don’t feel immediately comfortable about taking the job, you should walk away from it.

Don’t feel as though you need to justify your decision to the client. If you just would rather not take the job (too challenging, too much work, not enough pay, you get a feeling that you might not get paid, etc., then simply state that you are unable to take on the job:

“Now that I understand the entire scope of the job, I find that I just won’t be able to do it for you. I do appreciate the opportunity to talk with you about this project.”  

If you don’t think there is a middle road, then don’t even attempt to negotiate for a different deadline or to tackle just a portion of the job. Your first impression is almost always your best impression.

Be An Instant Success!

Follow through on your promises and meet your deadlines, be confident about yourself, and be reasonable about your abilities. Don’t be shy about being business-like when dealing with prospective clients. Take the jobs that you feel comfortable taking, walk away from jobs that give you a bad feeling. You’ll establish yourself as being reliable and as the “go-to” person who can get the job done!


Jan K., The Proofer is freelance proofreader and copyeditor. Visit for more information about Jan’s proofreading and copyediting services and Jan's other free resources. Please visit Mom's Break ( for free printable crafts and projects. © Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Related articles:
7 Ways to Stop "Selling" & Start Building Relationships
By Ari Galper
Online Business: Work Smarter, not Harder
By, Keith Bryan

Related forums:
Share your success as a virtual assistant
Introduce yourself

work from home
Business Opportunities
Work From Home Jobs
Work at Home Moms
Home Business Ideas
How to Build a Website
Marketing your Business
Affiliate Programs
Work at Home Forum
Home Business Directory
Success Stories
FreelanceMom Blog
Go Freelance



© 2003-2012 All Rights Reserved.
.:Advertising .:Privacy Policy .:Site Map