Posing carefully selected questions is particularly essential in the development of a meaningful relationship with a new client.

As providers it’s very easy to get excited about what we can do without knowing what’s truly wanted or needed. What we glean from the surface is rarely the full picture.

If we’re not careful, moments after meeting a potential client our mind fires up with strategies and solutions, even though we may be largely ignorant of the motivation for our engagement.

I’ve experienced firsthand the problems this can create, particularly during my dozen or so years working within the design and marketing industry.

It takes little for a creative person’s juices to flow and unless the correct direction is clarified, things can get off on the wrong foot and quickly go pear shaped.

This is why project managers/account handlers were invented, to act as a kind of translator between client and creative and ensure the brief is right before the coloured pens come out.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business relationships section.

As soloists we don’t all want or need managers and I realise many solo creatives are only too happy to have dumped the people in suits, but some of the disciplines are useful and asking the right questions is at the heart of this.

The added bonus is you are able to observe how your potential client answers your questions. In my coaching work I ask for a written response in advance of an initial meeting and I always learn much more than I anticipated.

So what questions do you ask and how has it helped your work? Spill the beans.

“ As providers it’s very easy to get excited about what we can do without knowing what’s truly wanted or needed. ”
Robert Gerrish

Robert Gerrish is one of the Flying Solo crew and supports soloists as a coach and consultant. He presents at conferences and networking events and bangs on to the media or anyone who listens, about all things micro. Along with Sam Leader and Peter Crocker, he's the co-author of Flying Solo – How to go it alone in business.

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