When meeting a new client, there’s often nervousness and questions in your mind about how smoothly the project will go. Even if the client seems committed to the project at hand, it’s hard to tell if everything will go well and result in success, however it’s defined. Here’s a technique to increase the likelihood of a successful project from start to finish.

It’s simple: after the meeting, send a follow-up action within 30 minutes.

That doesn’t mean a quick “thanks for the meeting, talk to you soon” email, but instead something useful and actionable to both of you. It could be a case study to review, a list of websites to gauge the client’s aesthetic, or a project agreement for them to sign and get started right away. There should be an indicated response as well, not just an FYI. This is a great way to see how fast and how thoroughly a client will respond to you.

Following up quickly sets the pace for the project. It doesn’t create a false sense of panic, but instead initiates a snappy pace of business and injects some dynamism from the start. If a project begins in a vague, lax manner, the entire project will likely follow that model, and is much more likely to unravel over time.

This may seem overwhelming but you can plan ahead. Have a few generic case studies, lists, or resources available at a moment’s notice. Create a contract/project agreement that is largely templated so you can build one without writing the entire document from scratch.

This technique can work even if you can’t begin right away. Here’s an example of something you might say after a meeting, addressing the future start:

Thanks again for choosing me to update your landing page. As we spoke about in this morning’s meeting, I can’t get started until the 20th of this month, but in the meantime, here’s a plan of the project phases. Please see the attached PDF for a case study from a similar landing page project I did recently. Write back with any questions, as well as the best time to schedule a phone call next week. Looking forward to working together,

One useful tool you can use for email follow-ups is FollowUpThen.com. It’s dead easy to use and requires no registration. All you do is add a time period to your email and the domain @followupthen.com. For example, if you want to be reminded of something in 3 days, just write your email and add 3days@followupthen.com to the BCC section. CC will send it back to both the sender and recipient — useful for co-workers or partners — and sending something to the To field only will return that message only to you — sort of a “note to self” in email. Give it a spin, it’s great.

Anything to Add?

Have you used this technique when beginning a project? What were the results? Leave us a comment below to share your experiences.

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About the author: Prescott Perez-Fox

Prescott Perez-Fox is a New York-based graphic designer and brand developer with 17+ years experience in branding, packaging, graphic design, and web design. He runs The Busy Creator.

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