Artisan Blog

The Art of Negotiation

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


No matter where you are in your career or in the professional world, negotiation is one of the most crucial skills you can hone. Being a savvy negotiator isn't just about asking for a raise or a higher salary - it is necessary for achieving your goals across all aspects of business and life.

Negotiation is addressed in thousands of business books and seminars. As creative recruiters, we use and observe these skills every day, and we have seen some consistent patterns that separate effective negotiators from the rest.

The CEO and entrepreneur MaryEllen Tribby boils down these commonalities into seven key principles. Here, we've further distilled her wisdom - which is consistent with the timeless laws of negotiating - and put it in a broader context.

Remember these seven core ideas, and you too, can get what you want from highly charged negotiations.

1. Visualize Your Desired Outcome

If you have a clear and concrete idea of what you want to get out of a negotiation, you can channel all of your efforts and energies toward that end. Before you take your seat, know what you want, and consider in vivid detail what it will look, sound, and feel like to get it.

2. Do Generous Research

The more you are focused on the other party, the more leverage you will have. Before you converse, find out everything you can about your negotiation partner. Understand what the other person wants to hear, and you can explain your own needs in a way that will resonate powerfully.

3. Listen Closely, and Listen A Lot

High-powered negotiations will put your active listening skills to the test. Rather than "waiting to talk," stay focused on what the other party is communicating. Ask follow-up questions until everything is crystal clear. This will let them know you are listening and that you value their time and thoughts and foster an atmosphere of mutual respect.

4. Don't Sell Yourself Short (Or Too High)

Take full objective stock of your own abilities, experience, and everything you bring to the table. You've done your homework and you deserve a fair deal, and you respect your own limitations and understand how you are perceived.

5. Stay Positive and Optimistic

If you believe you can and will get what you want, you are more likely to get it - or something better! Most people have a built-in negativity bias - to correct for this, stay upbeat and keep your eyes on the prize. Your infectious attitude may make the other party feel more generous.

6. Business, Never Personal

Keep your ego and emotions safely out of the negotiation, and think of it from the perspective of an outside observer who just wants you to get the best possible deal. Getting less than you want out of a negotiation is simply an opportunity to rethink your approach and be more deliberate and effective in the future.

7. Stay Humble

The best negotiation is one in which both parties get what they want. Resist the urge to gloat, to take advantage, or to take more than you need. You must live with your reputation, and those who remember you as an effective and fair negotiator will be powerful allies in the future.

Building your negotiation skills is a lifelong pursuit. Artisan Creative is here to help you get more in all areas of your professional life. Contact us today to learn more.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 434th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Generating Sticky Ideas

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Some think of creative inspiration as that elusive moment of epihany when the lightning bolt of clarity suddenly strikes. If you're a creative professional or entrepreneur, you know that you can't rely on such breakthroughs to happen simply when you need them to.

That's why many of the tried and true books in the creative industry focus on proven, repeatable formulas for generating effective ideas at any time, even when you're not feeling like Leonardo Da Vinci.

One such book is Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip and Dan Heath. Drawing from backgrounds in science, marketing, and folklore, the Heath brothers set out to find patterns among "sticky ideas," concepts that catch on, spread, and "stick" in the collective memory of an audience. Released in 2007, this book has become an essential read in the advertising/marketing trades and beyond; its ideas have proven remarkably prescient in fields from pop culture to politics to online memes.

The Heaths boil down the essence of a sticky idea to six core principles, which they describe in their "SUCCESs" model. You can use this formula to generate your own ideas and to test them for "stickiness," no matter what sort of creative work you're doing.

Ask yourself if your idea meets the following descriptions, as the most "stickiest" of ideas tend to be:

1. Simple

To win the minds and hearts of an audience, get right to the point. "The man who chases two rabbits catches neither," says one Confucian proverb, and if you make a complicated argument with several different key points, your audience is unlikely to remember any of them. Your ideas must be simple, useful, and profound. Practice cutting away all that essential fat on your ideas, until they're lean, strong, and unforgettable.

2. Unexpected

The most memorable ideas disrupt norms or break predictable patterns. You can use counterintuitive and surprising ideas to roust people out of their trances, making them laugh, think, or take action.

Consider the iconic tagline from the rental company Avis: “We’re number two, so we try harder.” In this campaign, the company grabs attention by confessing a weakness - it has a long way to go to catch up with Hertz, the industry leader - and inverts it into a strength. Audiences expect companies to puff themselves up; they don’t expect them to admit to weakness, or to explain how it actually makes them stronger. With its sincerity, self-deprecation, and use of the unexpected, this Avis campaign ‘stuck’ for 50 years.

3. Concrete

A concrete idea is specific, vivid, and visceral. It has mass, weight, and impact. In a world accustomed to the lofty abstractions of academic and corporate jargon, a concrete idea will stand out. Practice communicating your ideas in pictures, sounds, and feelings, and take advantage of the human mind's natural affinity for information that appeals to the senses.

4. Credible

You may not be a doctor (or even play one on television), however you should be able to support your ideas with a sense of trusted authority. Celebrity endorsements and personal stories work because when trusted public figures are willing to stake their reputations on something, those who trust and admire them will approach it with confidence. If you can't get the Surgeon General to endorse your product, you can show it in action, present case studies, or cite striking statistics and details to enhance your credibility.

5. Emotional

An appeal to a person's pride, fear, anger, or compassion is usually more effective than trying to convince them with logic. To quote Jonathan Swift, "you cannot reason someone out of something he or she was not reasoned into." Even the most rational and sophisticated people can only override their core emotions with great difficulty.

6. Stories

Timeless storytelling structures such as "the hero's journey" are still used by Hollywood screenwriters because they work. They can hook an audience's attention and appeal to shared and deeply held values. They work just as well for advertisers and creative professionals. Storytelling can even help build a better portfolio - instead of piecing together a collection of projects, embrace an internal structure and communicate a story of how you've evolved and what you've learned from your experience.

Creativity is a science and an art, and it can be learned. Contact Artisan Creative, and we'll provide resources to put you on the creative fast track and provide access to opportunities to improve your work and build your career.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoyed the 430th issue of our weekly a.blog. You can find more articles here.


Creating New Habits For Success

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 426th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

Sometimes, there's simply no substitute for hard work. Behavioral change that is meaningful is hard to do, and transition only gains traction when the right goals and structure are in place. If goals include developing healthy or productive new habits for success, then the mantra "work smarter, not harder" must resonate.

Willpower is a perishable resource, as it's not the most efficient or sustainable means of establishing a new habit. Set yourself up for success with the following concrete, time-tested strategies:

1. Use SMART Goals

Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Let’s say you’re considering a career change. How can you make this a SMART goal?

Get specific. If your local newspaper ran a story about you hitting your goal, what would it say? Make it measurable. What quantifiable benchmarks do you plan to hit? Is your goal achievable? Are you comfortable rearranging your life and allocating your resources to make this career change happen? How relevant will your new role be in 3-5 years? Does this new career make use of your existing talents and experience, and will the day-to-day realities of it make you happy? How much time will it take to make this transition?

After answering these tough questions and achieving clarity on what you’re doing, you now have a workable plan of action.

2. Make a Timeline

Making your goals time-bound is arguably the most important step toward staying accountable. It takes advantage of our habitual inclination to organize our work on a schedule.

Depending on what you want to accomplish, you may want to make a five-year plan, or decide how on you want to spend the next month. When pursuing any goal, remember that deadlines are lifelines, and that you can prime yourself to get things done by making specific time commitments and planning to deliver on time every time.

For more long-term goals, set short-term benchmarks to make sure you are on track, and check in with yourself every so often to see how you are doing. If you want to become a full-time creative freelancer in two years, plan to have a strong online portfolio in a month, take on your first client in 90 days, and so on. If you miss a smaller goal, you will have plenty of time to determine what went wrong and get yourself back on track.

There are countless apps and software programs designed to help you stick to a defined timetable. Remember the Milk, Basecamp, and Google Calendar are some of the simplest and most popular. Experiment with a few tools until you find one that works for you.

3. Have an Accountability Partner

Everything in life is more meaningful when we share it with others, and reaching your goals is easier when you aren’t going it alone. Find someone with similar objectives, starting at a similar level, and make a plan to connect regularly, motivate each other, keep each other on track, offer honest feedback, and celebrate your victories.

If you want to make rapid progress in growing your business or career, reach out to Artisan Creative today. We have a broad network of creative talent and top-shelf clients, and the experience to help you navigate the modern workplace and understand the principles that govern it.


Building Your Network

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 423rd issue of our weekly a.blog.

To build a network, you want to be simultaneously interested in the people around you, the things they do and need, and the ideas that drive them. Great minds are, in fact, very interested in other people!

Here are some guiding principles to help you build a new network—or expand an existing one—of people who can help you along your personal and professional journey.

Set Your Intention

Before you set out to do anything, put some thought into what you're looking for in creating new connections. Set a clear intention, and use that intention to guide your behavior.

Make sure your goals are realistic, attainable, and thoughtful. Start with a goal that's easy to hit and build from there. For example, if you're attending a conference with the goal of learning something new, add an additional goal of meeting 2-3 new people within your industry during your time there.

 

Setting the right intention will guide all of your actions when building your network.

 

Do Your Research

Part of setting your intention is determining who you want to add to your network. Perhaps there's a specific company you want to work for or a specific person you'd like to call on for advice. What types of professionals do you envision as your mentors and collaborators?

With your intention established, begin your research. Where do these people congregate to share their ideas and experiences? Are they online on Linkedin groups or do they meet in person at Meetups or industry conferences? What are they passionate about and where do they access information that matters to them? Where do your own skills and interests intersect with their values and needs?

Most importantly, what specific discussions and content would potentially help the people in your network?

Add Value

Reciprocity is the principle that governs all professional relationships. You can only expect others to treat you with as much respect as you offer. Approach all networking as an opportunity to help others.

Determine the issues that challenge others in your wider network and devise creative ways to solve them. Instead of asking for favors, pitch ideas as possible solutions. Offer value without expecting anything in return, and over time you will become someone that others will want to add to their network too!

It's essential that your desire to help be genuine. Too many eager networkers try too hard to seem helpful when they're really out for themselves. This erodes both trust and patience and discourages people from willing to partner with you.

Be a Connector

If you follow these principles, you will meet more people than you are able to help on your own. As this happens, introduce them to other people in your network who are better positioned to help and may have the skills you lack.

By making effective introductions, author James Altucher has built a network that includes leaders in technology, business, and the arts, many of whom he has interviewed on his successful podcast. He describes his method as becoming a “super-connector.”

To preserve the value of your relationships, follow the rules behind another Altucher concept, "Permission Networking." That is, don't introduce two people unless you've cleared it with both of them and you know it will add value to both of their lives and careers.

Enjoy Yourself

Building a network should be an extension of your own work and life as well as add value for everyone involved. It doesn't have to involve activities that you aren't comfortable doing.

If you don't attend networking events, you can just as easily use these principles to build relationships by networking online. Author Derek Coburn jokes that "networking events are the nightclubs of the professional world"—they can be useful and fun, but they're not for everyone — and says that  "Networking 3.0" happens online.

 

You'll have an easier time building a network if you're in your element, doing what you do best, stretching yourself, and helping others in a way that also works for you.

 

Use Your Resources

You can achieve explosive growth in your networking efforts if you plug into large and existing networks, such as the one we've spent years building here at Artisan Creative. Connect with us to discover how we can all help each other thrive.

The Art of Marketing Your Skills

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 422nd issue of our weekly a.blog.

Our work landscape is changing rapidly and we have to be prepared to change with it. Whether you're looking for new freelance opportunities or a full-time job, it’s important to think like an entrepreneur.

Even if you've never thought of yourself as an entrepreneur, one who often has to be the top salesperson, the marketing expert, as well as the billing and collections agent, you can create more opportunities and open yourself up for greater success if you think of yourself as an entrepreneurial brand. That means it’s your responsibility to market yourself and flex your creative muscles in new ways to bring fresh clarity to your priorities, values, and goals.

As you become more comfortable with marketing yourself, here are some core principles to keep in mind drawn from the work of respected marketing authorities and tested in the crucible of international business.

Own Your Own Niche

Being the first one in your category is the first law of Al Reis and Jack Trout’s 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.

Inventing your own category gives tremendous advantage and allows you to make the rules that your competition must follow. If you can't be the first in a broad category, claim a subcategory, and be the best to market in your own distinct niche.

For example, your focus may be web design. Although you may not be the first web designer in your city, you may still have an opportunity to focus on a specific clientele base or have an expertise in a vertical. To build your reputation in a specific niche, attend industry and networking events, study hard, learn a lot and become a subject matter expert.

Think Like a Storyteller

Even if you're not trained as a storyteller or fiction writer, you've probably loved enough films, novels, and anecdotes to intuitively appreciate the power of a good yarn.

When you describe your career trajectory, victories won, and challenges overcome, try thinking in terms of the "mono-myth" of "The Hero's Journey." Fiction writers, filmmakers, and marketers have used this structure to guide them down many different paths.

Share your story, your inspiration, your process—tell the story of why you stand out in your field and how you differentiate.

Start looking for the "Hero's Journey" structure, and you'll see it everywhere. It has shaped careers, lives, and civilizations. How can you harness the power of story telling to tell your own tale?

Be Candid

A candid approach highlights your sincerity and shows you have nothing to hide. A sense of humor or a quirky personality will resonate better with potential clients and employers with a similar sensibility. If you are clear as to who your target audience is, then it’s easier to be yourself.

Some brands have had tremendous success by poking fun at their own shortcomings. Avis struggled for years to overtake Hertz, to no avail. Finally, it increased its profile and drew a lot of new customers when it embraced the slogan, "We're #2, so we try harder."

Be your best self, and be proud of it. This gives you the freedom to be comfortable and honest.

Continue Learning

When defining your unique combination of skills, keep one eye on how relevant you expect them to be in five years. In the digital world, bubbles form and burst often. Job titles may change, so build continuously on your core competencies and adapt.

Continued education is key in many industries and the creative and marketing industry is no different. Be sure to continue your learning and sharpen the tools of your trade.  Sites such as Lynda.com or General Assembly are great resources.

Continuously iterate on your own marketing message. Use methodologies such as A/B testing to refine your ideas, build on what others respond do, and discard what isn’t working.

Represent Yourself

As you blend your range of skills and experience into a coherent, memorable storyline, make sure the story reflects who you really are. Heed the advice of marketing guru Seth Godin, to "under promise and over deliver."

If you make promises you can't keep, you will find yourself in positions you aren't qualified for, or assignments you aren’t excited about.

A well-branded portfolio will continue to support your story and be a representation of your skills. The story of your creative thinking, along with a display of your most current work, your involvement in a project, and your collaboration with other team members will speak volumes. If you are unable to create a website for yourself, there are wonderful options in the marketplace such as Dribbble or  Behance.

When using social media to market your skills, make sure it’s well branded with a cohesive message woven through all channels. Whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram—create a unique branding voice that represents you.

Bring your own unique story to life and share it. If you need additional help marketing your skills contact Artisan Creative for representation. We work with hundreds of clients in different verticals who are looking to hire new talent. Your next assignment could be waiting!

 


Tips for Better Interviews : Listening

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 421st issue of our weekly a.blog. 

Whether you’re a job seeker interviewing for a full-time position, a freelancer speaking with a potential client, or a hiring manager looking to add to your team, an interview is your opportunity to connect and learn the most you can about the person sitting across from you. While this may sound like you need to do a lot of persuasive talking, what it actually requires, is your focus on the more difficult side of the equation: listening.

Here are three quick guidelines to keep in mind.

1. Give the speaker your complete attention

Attune yourself to the speaker’s nonverbal cues. You can learn much more about the person than just what meets the ear.

Stay focused and avoid preparing your answer while they are talking. As you’ve already done your research and preparation beforehand, you are now free to give the speaker the attention and respect they deserve. Sometimes the best cure for nerves is to pay attention to another person’s concerns and questions.

Suddenly, it’s not all about you. And that’s a relief!

2. Use your body language

You can show that you are listening attentively by nodding, reacting with a facial expression, or saying "mm-hm" or other confirmation sounds. Just don’t overdo it. Forcing particular nonverbal cues can be more awkward than just letting your body behave naturally.

The most effective way to marshal your best body language is to cultivate a relaxed, positive mindset, letting your body and mind work in sync. If you approach your interviewers with an attitude of openness, helpfulness, and optimism, it will reflect in your calm and attentive demeanor If you come from a place of curiosity and generosity, you will be less likely to close up and get nervous.

To make things easier, try improving your body language a bit every day. Borrow a trick from life coach Jordan Harbinger, called the “doorway drill.” Every time you pass through a door, take a moment to look your best. Straighten your shoulders and back, take your hands out of your pockets, shake off any tension, and smile. Practice this exercise every day, and soon it will be your default.

3. Pause

Only when their question is finished is it the right time to gather your thoughts, and respond.

Take a moment to think about the question asked. Sit with it. Breathe. This is a conversation, and you are letting it unfold at a comfortable pace by listening carefully, understanding thoroughly, and putting appropriate thought into your answers.

And, when you're finished with your answer, take a pause. No need to jump in with more detail, if your answer was complete and well-prepared. The other person will give you a clue if indeed additional clarity is needed.

 

If you are a candidate looking for a new job, or your are a hiring manager looking to add to your team, contact Artisan Creative today.

 

Tips for Active Listening

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 419th issue of our weekly a.blog. 

 

MIA: When in conversation, do you listen, or do you just wait to talk?

VINCENT: I wait to talk. But I'm trying to listen.

 -Pulp Fiction, 1994  

Active listening requires that we set aside our own egos and imperatives as we listen to another person speak,  in order to be fully engaged with what that person is communicating, both verbally and nonverbally.

When done in good faith, active listening gives rise to an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect. At work, it can help mitigate conflicts and facilitate better teamwork and higher morale.

When listening actively, use these five principles until they become second nature. Don’t worry too much about whether or not you’re doing it correctly. Simply open yourself up to the conversation before you.

1. Notice body language and sub-communication

Communication is about much more than what is said out loud.

In order to really listen, you must get beyond the stated facts and pick up on the tone and emotions behind them. The same speech can have two entirely different meanings depending on whether it is delivered with self-assurance, with a knowing smirk, or with lots of filler words ("like," "um"), crossed arms, and erratic eye contact.

To actively listen, stay open, withhold judgment, and take in the sum of the spoken and unspoken communication.

2. Repeat, rephrase and ask questions

Before you respond, make sure you understand what has been said.

You can do this by repeating the speaker's key points, and restating them in your own words. This will give the person an opportunity to clarify or add more information. This way, before you respond, you can be fairly sure you fully comprehend the other person's point.

Before you offer a rebuttal, ask thoughtful, open-ended questions to clear up any lingering misconceptions. This can open a productive conversation and lead into fruitful areas of discussion neither one of you anticipated.

3. If you get lost, start over

Have you ever been having a conversation and suddenly realized the other person had been talking for a long time and you stopped paying attention some time ago? It's okay to admit it.

Just be honest. Say, "I think I lost you back there somewhere. I was with you up to a point. Would you mind clarifying this one area?" Make sure you are getting all the information you need to hear and understand the speaker in context.

If you are indeed listening in good faith, pay attention to what is being said, keep up with the content as it’s shared, and quiet your own inner voice.

4. Don't rehearse or think ahead - stay in the moment

When you're ready to listen, take a deep breath, and take a moment to let go of your own thoughts, opinions, ideas and perspective. Be fully present with the other person's experience. Perceive their feelings and get to know the human behind the voice.

If you begin formulating a response while you are pretending to listen, you are bound to miss important subtext and implications. You risk sounding dismissive or defensive. People can tell when you aren't listening. Don't interrupt. Wait your turn. Listen to others the way you would have them listen to you.

5. Care

The best way to connect, listen and learn is via genuine curiosity about other people's experiences and to have empathy.

Empathy is a learned skill that requires constant honing. Practice active listening, and you may find that other people's experiences resonate with you far more than you ever expected. You may discover a spirit of cooperation within yourself that you may have been too nervous, defensive, or distracted to appreciate before. 

At Artisan Creative, active listening is the key to creating trusted relationships with our talent and clients.


Adult Learning Styles

Friday, March 17, 2017

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 416th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

Whether you are training new hires or making a presentation to a large group, it’s important to communicate your ideas properly.

 

Adults have different ways of learning and information may not necessarily resonate with everyone in the same way. Presenting the material in different styles can transform frustration into an epiphany for some members in your audience.

Some people form vivid visual memories and learn best through pictures. Others love jokes and metaphors, while some learn best through reading or listening to an oral presentation. Some may have trouble sitting still for hours and may learn better by doing group activities.

Most of us learn best through a combination of pictures, sounds, and feelings, that compliment our dominant learning style. This idea is crystallized in an educational theory called “VAK,” for “visual, auditory, kinesthetic.”

If you facilitate training, onboarding sessions or make frequent presentations consider experimenting with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic modalities and notice how participants respond.

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners learn best through language; when something makes sense to them, they may say, “I hear that!". If your training materials are text-heavy, encourage participants to take turns reading the material aloud. Use the Socratic method - ask questions and let the group paraphrase the core ideas in their own words. Invite compelling guest speakers to share their stories and teach in different verbal styles. E-learning materials can include audio books or podcasts that can be consumed on the go. Use repetition or clever wordplay to help the material “click.”

Skilled copywriters are well positioned to help you speak your audience’s language and get them talking.

Kinesthetic Learners

This type of learner likes to move around, do things, and take a “hands-on” approach to learning. Reading a book or watching a video may become a challenge if they can’t get involved and connect to the ideas being presented. Kinesthetic learners will retain more information if they take notes by hand, work with three-dimensional models, or interact with others in the group. To engage kinesthetic learners, let them change seats, or stand as needed for part of the presentation or provide frequent breaks for snacks and fresh air.

The right experience designer or instructional designer can help design modules to create more interaction.

Visual Learners

Visual learners love stylish presentations, slideshows, videos, flowcharts, and infographics. To engage them, use color, diagrams, photographs, and information architecture to break up heavy text. They have keen aesthetic sensibilities and see the symbolism in imagery that others may overlook. When explaining themselves to others, they may say, “look here,” or “let me draw you a picture.”

To engage visual learners, work with the best designers and presentation specialists you can find.

 

If you’re ready to experiment with different learning modalities, reach out to Artisan Creative. We work with creative professionals with experience in a range of media who can make your project shine and appeal to a variety of audiences.



Avoiding Digital Miscommunication

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 413th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

Do you get confused reading certain emails because you can’t decipher the writer’s tone? Have you ever been surprised at how different a person can sound depending on whether they’re using the phone or speaking face to face? Have members of your team asked you to clarify a memo or email when you thought you were 100% clear?

 

Well, you could be caught in that trap of digital miscommunication.

As we have embraced globalization, virtual offices, and meetings conducted via Zoom, or chatted using Slack, we have had to rapidly adapt to new forms of communication. “The medium is the message,” as futurist Marshall McLuhan wrote, and the nonverbal cues we use in person don’t always translate via this new medium.

Communicating clearly through any method is an essential requirement for any career advancement, your team’s success or developing interpersonal skills. It’s often a process of trial and error, and here are a few general rules that will help avoid costly misunderstandings.

Clear, concise communication is a strength and one that all job descriptions ask for. For some it comes naturally, for others the following tips can be beneficial:

Write like you talk

Avoid confusing jargon and ensure that your point gets across in the simplest possible manner.

For practice, read your emails aloud before you send them. As you get used to editing yourself, you will sharpen your thinking as well.

Keep it simple

If you write and speak clearly you will earn the respect of your colleagues by saving their patience and time.

If you’re a long-winded writer, run your text through Readability Score to make it more concise before you hit “send.”

Be present

As you keep your message simple and brief, make sure you don’t leave your colleagues guessing about essential information. Your colleagues and communications deserve your full attention. A simple mindfulness meditation practice can train you to focus on what’s in front of you right now and in turn tune out what’s not currently important.

Be Empathetic

The Harvard Business Review suggests professional empathy as a way to disarm potential misunderstandings. When you connect with another person, no matter what the medium, try to see things from that person’s perspective and interpret the world through a language that person uses and best understands.

This isn’t just for salespeople and therapists; active listening can help anyone establish more meaningful and effective connections and reduce team friction.

Ask Questions

If you are unclear, asking direct questions will get better results than making assumptions and pretending you know more than you do.

Asking the right questions gives you a chance to learn how other people communicate and think. As a result, your own communication will become much more effective when you understand how your colleagues approach their work.

Asking questions conveys curiosity and enthusiasm which indicates active participation in the world around you. When you think the conversation is almost over, asking one more question can yield a key insight.

Communicate Visually

Along with asking questions and adapting to your audience (or “reading the room,” as comedians call it), Supervisor Essentials suggests that you learn to communicate your ideas visually. Digital communication is growing increasingly visual, and there are many new tools that will enhance the experience for all, from infographics to animated gifs.

Studies suggest that 65% of us are visual learners. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a designer, you’ll be better equipped to get through to your visually inclined colleagues if you can master the basics of visual communication. It can also help you make those (at times) rather dull web conferences more useful and engaging.

At Artisan Creative, we help creative professionals connect with clients and opportunities, and we know that effective communication is the essence of a good connection. As you build your communication skills and become fluent in the language of business, we can provide resources for growth, put you in touch with industry leaders, and help you build a career you’ll love. Get in touch today to learn more.

A Freelancer’s Guide to Expert Client Communication

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 407th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Any freelancer will know that running your own business requires a broad set of skills and the ability to wear many hats. In addition to doing your job well, you have to manage clients, invoices, new business development and a whole host of other responsibilities. To be a successful freelancer involves satisfied clients with repeat business. With this in mind, how do you please clients and how does good communication affect your business?

Establishing good communication from the start is the pathway to successful projects. By keeping an open dialogue, building rapport and ensuring mutual understanding, clients will want to continue working with you. Revisions and misunderstandings are lessened, which means everyone involved will be satisfied with the outcome.

Listening vs. Talking

Initial stages are all about the client and their needs. Most often clients are coming to you because they have a problem and they need you to solve it. This is your opportunity to listen by giving the client ample time to speak and express their vision.

Project Intake

Managing new clients can be tricky and if you’re busy or feeling stressed it’s easy to miss the all-important details. Create a standard project intake form with key questions to ask each client. Your methodical approach towards taking on a new assignment will be noticed and ensures that you’ll never forget to ask a crucial question.

A Consultative Approach

Clients are hiring you because of your expertise and they’re trusting that you will do what is best for their business. They value your input, so be confident, speak up and offer advice when it’s needed.

Never Assume

The quickest way to a misunderstanding is by making assumptions. If you’re unsure, get clarification. The old adage of “measure twice, cut once” rings true here.

Put It In Writing

If you are taking lots of calls with your clients, always follow up and summarize what you discussed. Whether it’s revisions, project scopes or fees, send a confirmation via email so everyone is on the same page. Better yet, create a project scope form, and a change order form to manage deliverables and edits.

Response Time

As a rule of thumb, aim to respond to a client within 24 hours. Set expectations and deliver to those standards. Unless you’re on instant messaging such as Skype or Slack, clients will appreciate knowing they can expect your response within a set time allocation. If you’re unable to keep to a 24-hour timeframe, let the client know your schedule and that they are a priority. Ask clients for their schedules so you’ll know when to expect feedback and revisions too.

With a few minor processes added to your freelance workflow, you can minimize misunderstandings, enhance productivity and align communication. Focusing on client satisfaction will ensure you are always successful.

What additional experiences can you share with other freelancers?

 

 



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