How To Communicate With Clients And Freelancers

How To Communicate With Clients And Freelancers

Good communication is vital in any job, but particularly so when working remotely with clients across the globe!

In a highly technical industry such as blockchain, it can be easy to forget the importance of ‘soft skills’. This term refers to social and emotional skills, approaches and mindsets. Such skills are critical for good communication, team work, interpersonal interactions, and other areas of work that are not as easy to quantify as ‘hard skills’ such as coding proficiency or knowledge of a particular platform.

Despite this, soft skills will set you apart as a candidate or business leader. In fact, surveys have shown that many employers value soft skills as much as or more than hard skills – and that employees who fail within the first 18 months are more likely than not to do so because they lack soft skills.

On a purely practical level, if you can’t communicate well with someone, you’re unlikely to be able to work with them. As a freelancer, good communication can mean the difference between landing a job and being passed over for someone else. Equally, as an employer, if your communication is poor, a talented freelancer may not want to work with you again.

Communicating well isn’t difficult. Unfortunately, though, it’s something that is very often done badly in the Web3 world. There are many reasons for this, including:

  • The emphasis on hard skills like programming and the demand for highly talented professionals means that soft skills are often devalued or overlooked – even though everyone knows how hard it is to work with someone who is rude, awkward, or uncommunicative.
  • Web3 is global, which can involve working with people who may not share your first language.
  • Cultural differences can be stark. Some cultures can appear extremely direct or blunt to others – even if there is no intention to cause offence.
  • Working in different time zones means that messages may be sent and received early in the day or late at night, when people are tired or in a hurry.

The good news is that soft skills can be learned. By bearing just a few key points in mind, you can improve your communication skills and enhance your working (and other) relationships.

Communication 101

There are lots of resources you can read and watch about communication skills. Books like How To Win Friends And Influence People (summary) will help you become more interesting, engaging, friendly, and enjoyable to work with and be around. Similarly, YouTube channels like Charisma On Command provide short, accessible lessons on various different social and work situations you may have struggled with.

As a starting point, though, here are some of the most basic principles that will help you communicate effectively and productively, whether you’re a freelancer or a customer – increasing your chances of gaining work or retaining talent.

  • Try to listen at least as much as you talk. Many misunderstandings can be avoided by carefully considering what the other person is saying and avoiding interrupting them. When communication takes place via a messaging app, this might mean reading and re-reading a message carefully before replying, to make sure you have understood what they were trying to convey fully.
  • Similarly, set the other person up for success by composing your messages in plain and simple English (assuming that’s the language you’re using), and taking the time to check each message before pressing send.
  • Don’t be afraid to contact the person again for clarification or to provide more information. However, try to be thoughtful about the messages you are sending. Messages sent in haste at the last minute, or that have not been well-considered, can be counterproductive and often only add to the confusion. Similarly, a barrage of messages sent to update and correct previous ones can look chaotic and unprofessional.
  • Be friendly (though not over-familiar, especially at first) yet professional throughout. If a disagreement arises, remain reasonable and set the tone for the discussion. Be courteous, even if the other person is not. (Remember, on LaborX, your communication history is retained and may be used to resolve a dispute, so you’ll want to look good for a favourable outcome!)
  • Don’t criticise, however much you feel like it. This is instantly off-putting, and will not help you get the best out of the other person. Instead, state how you would like a piece of work or situation to be different, and balance each negative point with praise. Criticising can be one of the hardest things to avoid when working with a freelancer who has not delivered the work you the way you had in mind – or a when a customer has made your life difficult in some way!

There’s a lot more to good communication, but remaining calm, professional, friendly, and attentive is always a good start. A good rule to remember is that most people have good intentions, most of the time. When you are working over the internet, across language and cultural barriers, via text chat and other apps that do not allow you to see body language, hear tone of voice, and so on, understand that misunderstandings can easily arise. If you assume the worst, the relationship can break down very quickly, and once a break down occurs, it can be difficult to repair. Worse, if you’re in the wrong and have misjudged someone, it may reflect poorly on your reputation in future.

Communication On LaborX

The first way in which you will communicate with other users is in your Profile. For best results, write a brief but informative summary of who you are and what you do, whether you’re a freelancer or a customer. Include links to your social media, referencing any LinkedIn pages if possible. Remember your online presence is your digital identity. If another user sees you have an empty Profile, this can reflects poorly on your professionalism, and casts doubt on how serious you are about hiring or being hired.

Job and Gig listings are another critical way to give information about yourself and what you’re looking for, or looking to provide.

  • Talent: Your Gig showcases what you can do and who you are, as well as describing the service you offer. Use your listing to give prospective clients a sense of your capabilities, and don’t forget to upload an image to increase your chances of being hired!
  • Clients: When uploading a new Job, you will have the opportunity to include various details about the task. It’s worth being as comprehensive as possible. Try to be clear and straightforward, yet also concise. Your Job listing will give freelancers their first impression of you and your company, so the better the job you do here, the more streamlined the process should be later on.

In short, whether you’re a client or freelancer, leave as little to chance as possible. You’ll waste less time in the process because this will help filter out unsuitable candidates/employers early on.

Once an initial enquiry has been sent for a Gig or Job, a chat session will be opened so that you can discuss any additional details about the task. Since this will be your first dialogue with the other party, make sure you (both) start off on the right foot:

  • Be clear, concise and direct
  • Be polite
  • Read and write messages carefully, bearing in mind the other person may not share the same first language

Overall, clients will generally get the best out of freelancers if they can give them as much detail as possible, while still allowing them creative freedom. Similarly, as a freelancer, make sure you know exactly what is expected of you, what the guardrails are, and how much latitude you have in your brief.

All being well, this will lead to a successful application, after which funds are escrowed and the work can formally begin. Make sure to maintain communication as the job progresses, especially for tasks that take longer to complete. Keep in mind however, that a deluge of unwarranted questions or updates is not helpful (and neither is changing the brief partway through the work).

Once the freelancer has submitted the requested work, there will be one final chance to discuss any changes. If everything has gone to plan, the Job's completion will be confirmed by the client and all funds will automatically be released to the talent from escrow.

Finally, don’t forget to leave a review; this is helpful for the reputation of both parties, as prospective freelancers/customers will be able to use them to help make their decisions in future.

Keep It On The Platform

LaborX has been designed to enable all forms of communication between freelancers and clients to take place on the platform.

However this isn’t just a useful functionality to streamline the process of organising work; it’s a vitally important security feature.

Firstly, keeping all forms of communication within the platform ensures there’s a log of every communication that takes place between the two parties. In the event that you need to open a dispute – either because as a customer you’re not satisfied with the freelancer’s work, or as a freelancer you think the customer is withholding pay unfairly – this written record will be used in the dispute resolution process.

If at any time you have a problem, it’s always best to try to resolve things directly and professionally with the person involved. If that does not work, then you're more than welcome to open a formal dispute once the deadline of the contract has been reached. However, if communication has taken place outside of the platform, a fair resolution may be difficult to reach.

Secondly, please understand that scammers will seek to move communication away from the LaborX platform, often to other platforms such as Telegram. They will typically use some pretext to do this, which should always be taken as a red flag. Once communication occurs outside of LaborX, you will no longer be protected by the measures we have put in place to reduce scams and make life harder for those who try to steal your hard-earned crypto.

For the sake of security for both parties, please always remember to keep all forms of communication within the LaborX platform.

A Note About Scams

Unfortunately, hacks and scams are a widespread problem in the Web3 space. We’ll be publishing another blog in the near future about how you can protect yourself from scams in the online Jobs space such as on LaborX, as well as in the wider crypto world in general.

For now however, we can say that it’s not always easy to know at the outset when someone is trying to scam you, especially if you’re new to crypto and the freelancing world. Nevertheless, there are certain patterns of interaction that scammers use that after a while become like digital fingerprints. An experienced user will be able to recognise such indicators and immediately know, or at least strongly suspect, when someone is trying to scam them.

At LaborX, we’re working harder than ever to stamp out scammers and make sure they have no place within the online jobs community. We are currently in the process of building a set of automated measures that recognises suspicious activity and notifies users before it escalates.

One of the key ways in which LaborX already protects its users against scams is through the use of smart contract-powered digital work agreements. These enable users to organise the scope of their work, accounting for any payments and required deadlines. Once both freelancer and client have agreed on the terms, the client deposits the payment into the contract, which acts as an escrow account. The funds are then held in the contract until the job is completed, at which point, upon approval, they are automatically released to the freelancer. (If there is a problem with the work that cannot be solved by further discussion, a dispute can be opened – in which case, the record of communication held on LaborX will become relevant, since this allows the moderator to understand what was agreed upon and whether each party has met their obligations.)

This system prevents the most common abuses of freelance work relationships. It ensures that customers cannot refuse to pay for freelancers’ work (a common problem on mainstream freelancer platforms), and avoids the dilemma of upfront payment, which would risk the freelancer disappearing without providing anything.

Where initial contact is made on LaborX but then the interaction is taken off-platform, there are no such safeguards, and LaborX cannot do anything if either freelancer or customer are defrauded.

Additionally, the LaborX team constantly monitors the jobs being posted on the site. We are familiar with common scams and immediately remove them from the jobs listings. In addition, we are developing a pre-moderation system that will filter listings uploaded by customers and reduce the prevalence of scams.

Communicate well, stay on LaborX, and stay safe!