Yes! Yes! Absolutely yes!
By all means though, that’s not to say everyone should be friends with their clients or will feel comfortable doing so.
Here’s my take on the matter. This is from the perspective of a freelance copywriter, so it may not suit your line of work but let me know if you agree…
Benefits of being friends with your clients
- Your relationship with your work improves ten-fold! When you actually like the people you work with, it’s easier to enjoy the work you do.
- You get to know your clients, which means you begin to understand a little more about their business and who they are. Put that knowledge towards the work you do for them, and you’ll find the quality of your work (at least from their perspective) will improve.
- You make friends with people all over the world! I have clients all over Australia, in different parts of the United States and, as of recently, in Italy. Granted, I wouldn’t consider them all “friends” but the ones I do connect with are happy to help me learn about their cultures and the different writing styles that they find work for their clientele – it’s super enlightening.
- You get the perks of being friends with a range of different people. An example of this is a lovely lady who I proofread personal emails for. Her background is Polish. Her spoken English is phenomenal, but she isn’t confident with her written English. She owns property in Poland and has offered her place up for me to stay in, free of charge, should I feel inclined to visit.
- It’s good to expand your horizons and let different kinds of people into your life so you can learn and grow from listening to their ideas and experiences.
Downsides of being friends with your clients
- I’m not sure if other people have this issue. When I’m friends with a client, I tend to find myself, way too often, saying, “This one’s on the house.” Or something of a similar nature that ends up lowering my price. I know I shouldn’t do this but as someone who works on an ad hoc basis, with no real set pricing schedule and who struggles to even put a price on the work they do, it’s hard not to want to help your friends when you have the opportunity.
- If you let them down, it feels a thousand times worse. Of course, there have been times where I haven’t been able to meet deadlines or I’ve put together a piece of writing that, for whatever reason, wasn’t my best work. I find that this happens more often with clients who are friends because I know they’ll be understanding, but I always feel guilty as heck for not prioritising their work when it happens. Sure, it doesn’t happen often, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a thing.
- They may take advantage of the friendship. The majority of people won’t do this, but there definitely are clients who will try to take advantage, in their own ways, of the fact that you see them as a friend.
- If things go to heck personally, the business relationship suffers. I haven’t had this happen (that I’m aware of) but I can definitely see the potential for things to go south quickly in this situation.
Tips for being friends with your clients
- Gauge the potential for friendship carefully before engaging. If you don’t think your personalities work well together, keep the relationship business only.
- Look out for yourself. If you feel like a client (whether they double as a friend or not) is starting to take advantage of you, you will need to find a way to put a stop to it before it turns into resentment.
- Keep business related talk honest. You both still need to provide constructive criticism where needed. You can’t be worried about hurting your friend’s feelings when their livelihood (and yours) is at stake. An open, honest channel for business talk is essential to creating a good client/friendship bond.
Are you friends with your clients?
If yes, why? Are you just a generally open person who likes to make friends with anyone and everyone? Is it a business strategy to make friends with your clients?
If no, why? Do you find it hard to mix work and social life, for whatever reason? Do you simply not relate to your clientele base? Do you not communicate with them often enough to form a friendship?
This kind of stuff is super intriguing to me, so I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Until next time,
THINK | WRITE | CREATE