I never intended “friendship” to become a client relationship philosophy, but it just developed organically. I have to say that some of my best clients are also people I count among my friends, which makes sense if you think about it. If you are going to spend a lot of time together in a stressful, high-stakes environment, that relationship is going to be a lot more pleasant, for both you and the client, if you connect at a personal as well as a business level. And if you do, it’s difficult to not become friends with your clients.
In terms of management, I get way, way out ahead of expectations and try to manage them accordingly. There’s some truth in the old adage “under promise, over deliver,” but most people want you to shoot straight with them, and that’s what I try to do. Also, whenever possible, I try to avoid surprising my client; most clients hate surprises, unless of course it’s an unexpected win. Regular communication is key.
To maximize your relationship with a client, I think being accessible is absolutely essential. Life moves pretty fast, and being there, whether it’s in an evening or on a weekend, to be able to address a client issue will put you top of the mind with the client the next time they need something. Work-life balance is important, absolutely, but sometimes you have to put your life on hold for the needs of the client, and if you don’t, the client will find someone who will.