For any job or relationship to grow and flourish, communication is vital and key. Although there are various qualities and personalities that come into play for success in a job or relationship I rank communication breakdown as the destroyer of all.
Online Freelancers: it is mandatory to know, have reliable and efficient modes of communication. This becomes your workstation, which determines your online career. Professional, regular and good communication is a stairway to an excellent successful career and relationship.
In this blog post I will outline the modes of communication that I use online. That being noted, it is important to ensure that you know the modes of communication to use during you freelancing career and know what works for you depending on where you are located on the global map.
i) Freelancing website messaging platform
Almost all freelancing websites have a messaging platform and once you create an account in any of the sites ,you automatically get this means of communication. It is the most basic and highly reliable of all. I rank this as the best mode of communication because it is easy for oDesk (used as an example) to help in case of a dispute with a client and keep messages organised on one platform.
Note: Always ensure to check your inbox as frequently as possible because it is the one clients use more often.
ii) Email Communication
This is one of the most widely and go-to mode of communication today. According to studies by The Radicati Group, in 2013 there were over 3.9 billion email accounts and it is expected that by the year 2017 there will be over 4.9 billion accounts. Who are you not to use email ? Emailing, just like the messaging system above , is cheaper, easily accessible on many devices (phones, tablets, laptops) reliable and fast.
- Ensure that you have a seperate work/business only email to avoid message confusion and spam
- Always check your email as frequently as you can
- It is proffesional to reply to emails as soon as possible (in less than 24 hours)
Skype is an effective and professional way to chat, can be used as a teaching tool (see image below) or to conduct meeting and video conferencing. However, you must be aware of its downsides such as poor internet connection in some of the parts of the world.
Personally, my internet connection with respect to the rest of the world on an internet speed scale is poor to average and can only support text or voice chat and not video chat. This in itself has cost me contracts that I would have landed if I was in a broadband connected region.
iv) Google Hangouts/Chat
Communication is on another level at this moment. Did you know that you can be a Google Hangouts guru and make some loads of money ? Just like skype, google hangout is a reliable means to text / video chat with clients. It is available for all Google mail holders and offers an easy and fast way to communicate with clients through text chats.
v) Mobile Phones or Telephones
Mobile and telephone communication is valuable to everybody but the benefits to this means of communication is felt by virtual assistants who rely on it heavily. It is costly but an effective way to receive immediate feedback for decision making.
- If you pick mobile phone or telephone as your communication tool always inform your client of the date and time that you will make the call .
- Always observe and respect time zone differences.
To cap it all, communication is a two way traffic and with regard to freelancing, it is the freelancers initiative to communicate with clients regularly, ask questions where necessary and provide progress reports on assigned projects. If you feel that your communication is under par, invest in learning some communication skills. You never know when they will come in handy.