You've been working with your point of contact (POC) for more than six months, things are going really well, and then one day, you get an email - you're going to have a new manager you're working with daily. Fear and uncertainty set in - you've built a great relationship with your client, things are in a good flow, and now there's someone new coming on that will be in charge of your work.
This happened recently to me with one of my clients. I had been contracting with this company for a year and have had three new POC changes. Each time, I was uncertain of what was going to happen and if there was still going to be a place for me within the organization. A lot of people when they're starting a new job want to place their mark. I've seen this happen time and again when the new guy lets go of all the agencies they are working with, their contractors, or even full-time employees, to build everything again from scratch. If the new guy is adamant about this, you don't have much chance of convincing him to keep you on. But don't be discouraged, for the areas that are out of your control, there's a lot that's also in your control.
So far, I'm about a month into working with my new client. Things are going well so far, and it doesn't look like he's going to be removing me from the team. I'm even excited that there may be some opportunity to expand my scope and work with him more closely in different areas. I wanted to share with you some of the areas that are in your control when you're starting to work directly with someone new to expand your opportunity, ensure your relevancy, and build a new relationship from what I've learned with many new changes.
#1 Make Their Life Easier
It's an excellent idea to find ways of making their onboarding as easy of a process as possible. Putting together a list of the projects that you've worked on in the past and are currently working on helps give them the background of how you got to where you're at.
Another way of supporting their transition to the team is letting them know that they're welcome to use you as a resource and you're available for chats or messages to answer quick questions. Let them know you're on the same team and are an ally for them.
#2 Get to Know Them
Set up a coffee chat (virtually or in-person) to get to know them on a more human level. Find shared interests, hobbies, and to encourage conversation beyond just the coffee meeting. Before you begin your work meetings ask about their, day, weekend, etc. Spending time forming an authentic relationship is a great way to build your network and want to have people continue to work with you.
With my new client, I learned a lot about his interests and our crossover. We've both traveled all around the world, connected over baking, and are personable. He seems like someone I would get along with outside of work, and it makes it more encouraging to continue to work with him and get to know him in an authentic way.
As you continue to have meetings with your client, spend a couple of minutes each meeting asking about their personal life, the projects that they're working on, and aim to build a foundation of mutual respect and interest.
#3 Share Your Skillset
Once you've made your new client's life easier, it's important that you share what your skills are. These don't need to be limited just to the work that you've been doing for the company. Think of the new client as a new opportunity to up-sell your services and skillsets. If they're wanting to work on new projects and need someone to help fill that role, you want to position yourself to be the first person they think of.
I'm excited to be working with our new client because it seems that he has a lot of great ideas that I could help support in building the strategy and execution. So far, we've had a few different conversations on what I've been working on, what I love to work on, and the direction he's thinking of going. I'm looking forward to continuing the conversation with him to see if there's room to continue to grow and help support the company.
As you go through this, ensure that you're positioning yourself to help your client and your company and focus on their goals. Focusing on your desire to up-sell and bring in more work is not nearly as effective and may make others think that you're not a team player and are focusing on yourself.