Why Keeping in Touch with Old Clients is Vital (and How Best to Do It)

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am semi-retired these days.

That doesn’t mean I have stopped working altogether, though, and I wouldn’t want to.

Things have been a bit quiet over the last few months, though, so I decided to get in touch with some old clients to remind them I was still around if there was anything I could help them with.

Some didn’t reply, but others did. I got more work almost immediately from two of them, with the promise of more in future from a third. I thought it might be worth looking at what lessons can be learned from this…

One very important thing is that when you work with companies, people move on and – shock, horror! – they don’t always tell you. A new guy or girl moves into their role and doesn’t know you from Adam (or Eve). If they need a freelance, your name is unlikely to be the first one to come into their mind. Consequently, the flow of work suddenly dries up.

That was the scenario in one of the companies I got more work from. I received a reply from a woman saying that she was fairly new in the role, apologising for not getting in touch sooner, and asking if I could also do proofreading work.

Of course, I said yes, and the upshot was that I got a dozen short novelty books to proofread, along with the company’s trade catalogue. Although I am not primarily a proofreader, it is  something I am happy to do when the occasion arises. In some ways I rather enjoy correcting work someone else has produced, rather than having to write it all myself!

At the other company I got new work from, the same person was still there. He was pleased to hear from me again (he said) and mentioned that they wanted a Kindle e-book writing to help promote their seminars business. Of course, as a published Kindle author myself, I immediately volunteered my services. The result was that I got a sizeable commission to write a book on their behalf, with more projects promised in future as well.

Clearly then, while not all my old clients replied positively, enough did to make this a very worthwhile exercise. Here are a few more points you might like to consider if you find yourself in a similar position to the one I was in…

  • If it’s been a year or two since you last worked for a client, it’s quite likely your previous contact will have moved on, so start by briefly introducing yourself and mentioning projects you have worked on in the past.
  • It may also be a good idea to write to the company’s main email address rather than one that belonged to your previous contact. Or at least, copy it to that address also.
  • If you have a good pretext for contacting a business, don’t hesitate to use this. In one case a company had promised to send me an author’s copy of a print book I had written for them, but I  never received this. So I wrote politely to ask if I could be sent it now. I also reminded them that I was available for other work if required. I got an immediate reply apologising for the oversight and promising to send me three copies of the book (which they did). They didn’t have any work for me straight away, but promised I would be top of the list if anything else came up. So I would say I am definitely back on their radar now.
  • Another good pretext for contacting a new client is if you are now offering a new service, e.g. blogging or social media work.
  • You could also write to let them know if, for example, you have launched a new blog or website (and this might be of interest to them). As you may know, I recently launched a personal finance blog called Pounds & Sense, and I mentioned this in several cases. It certainly generated a degree of interest, although I didn’t get any work related to it directly.
  • Remember as well that a client may not realise the full range of skills you have to offer, especially if you have acquired new ones since last working for them. So it’s always good to remind them what you can do. In the case of the company mentioned above, they evidently hadn’t realised I could also do proofreading work. I fully expect to receive quite a lot more work of that nature from them in the coming months.

Finally, since I’m on this subject, I do still have some spare capacity at the moment – so if you have any writing, editing or proofreading work you need doing, please get in touch!

And if you have any comments or questions about this post – or any other ideas for generating work from old clients – do post them below.

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