There are just 10 days left in 2009 and I can’t help but reflect on the last 12 months. As promised, I’m taking some time to write about some of the things I learned over the year, partially for the benefit of any of your in the community who might get something out of hearing MY experiences and partially for my own good. Documenting what I have learned is a good way for me to not forget it! ;)
Back in February, in my post Ditching your 9to5 to be Freelance & Fancy Free, one of the things I pointed out as über important when moving from your full-time gig to be a free-agent is to “Stay on your bosses good side”
Maybe you won’t be missing your boss once you leave your 9to5, but don’t use your upcoming freedom as an excuse to burn bridges with your current employer. There is a good chance your former boss will soon become your client when you leave.
This was very true for me! My former boss is one of my most valued clients and it is because I made it a point to be a hardworking and dedicated employee for her until the very last moment of my time in the office.
As a freelancer, reputation is everything. You want to be known for doing good work and for being a GOOD person to work with! I was tested on this, and held true to my words earlier this year when I opened my email one day to find a message from someone who used to be a client of mine at the old 9-to-5 asking for some freelance work.
I knew this person was an important client to my old boss and no matter what monetary gain the extra work might bring, damaging my relationship with my old boss by stepping on her toes was the LAST thing I wanted to do.
I immediately wrote her and let her know of the request for service and said “I just wanted to make sure you are comfortable with me taking on work with her directly.”
I quickly got word back letting me know she had referred the client to me since she was swamped at the moment and thanking me for checking in about it!
Lesson Learned: Reputation is valuable! Be loyal to your clients and they will be loyal to you!
Since this time, I’ve continued to get more referrals from my former boss and even some from the people she’s referred. Word of mouth is my most valued marketing tool, but it is worthless without reputation!