Career Opportunities

The High-Tech Career Handbook

A weekly ComputorEdge Column by Douglas E. Welch

Getting Serious Part 2

October 15, 2004

** Listen to this column on your computer, iPod or other audio player **

MP3 via Coral | MP3 direct from

Last week I started a discussion of “getting serious” in your relationships with clients. Today, I will talk about maintaining these relationships for the benefit of both you and your clients. If there is any secret to high-tech career success, this might be it.


If you really want to get serious about your clients and your business, take some time to think about the lifetime value of your oldest and best clients. Have they bought you that new car, braces for the kids, whiz-bang computers and other technology? What have your clients made possible for you? Only then will you start to recognize the potential in every single client you visit. Recognizing this potential can go a long way towards maintaining your relationship over the years.

Each and every client contact is a win-win. Your client gains the knowledge and support they need and you gain the money necessary to obtain your wants and needs. Who could ask for a better symbiotic relationship? In fact, you gain even more than money. Each and every client provides challenges that push you to expand your knowledge. This allows you to take on new clients with new challenges and continue the process in an endless cycle of improvement.

While maintaining contact with your best clients is important, it doesn’t mean you should ignore those people who call once or twice a year. In fact, these people could be some of the most important clients to your career. Even if they need help infrequently, clients like this often refer you to friends, family and co-workers on a regular basis. I have several clients who I worked with only once, but who have referred me to countless others.

Action Items

Remember this fact and live by it…every single contact with a client can, and should, generate action items for the future. Every client in your address book should have some form of “Next Action” associated with them. Sure, problems will arise on their own…new hardware will be purchased, software upgraded, bugs squashed, but these action items are what will develop an on-going relationship with the client.

As I mentioned last week, take good notes when you are with the client. Some of these notes may be about the current issue you are working on, but others should be notes for the future. When does their anti-virus expire? Are they using an ancient version of MS Word? Could they use a little more training or a good book on Quicken? Once you return to the office, these action items get entered into your calendar or a project list for future follow-up.

There are several reasons for developing action items. First, the client will benefit from a climate of continual improvement. Preventing problems is always preferable to solving them when they arise. Working proactively for your clients clearly demonstrates that you have their best interests in mind. Being constantly engaged in the development of your client’s computer skills develops a level of trust that can be missing from the typical “hit and run” consulting call. You are not just there to solve one problem. You are there to help them make the best use of the computer, now and in the future.

On the business side, a proactive focus can help to smooth out the “feast or famine” common in freelance work. Your goal is not to sell clients services they don’t need, only to act as a coach and gently push them to better and better uses of their computer. In the absence of crises, they have the time to actually learn about their computer and maybe even have some fun. Take these opportunities to help your clients stretch their vision and find new ways to a better life through technology.

Next week I will explore some of the ways that I put these concepts to work in my day-to-day business life. Maintaining relationships with your clients requires constant attention. Thank goodness that technology can offer us some fine ways of “keeping in touch”. I am constantly adding new services, new information, and new ideas in order to serve my clients better. You need to be doing the same thing, in your own way, to insure the growth of your high-tech career.


RSS Feed with enclosures

Support the Career-Op Podcast

Get your copy today!

Now Available from