Normally when you’ve been putting your bid together, you’ve thought hard about time scales, the order in which things need to be done and who needs to be involved. One of the most frequent questions I get asked is about managing other freelancers/colleagues and the best way to do so.
“When should I tell a colleague about a project?”
It seems like such an odd question, but anyone whose ever been down this road will know why it can be so thorny. You really don’t want to be that person who is constantly taking up your colleague’s time by telling them about potential gigs that don’t come off. My advice would be to give people a heads up and nothing more unless the job is confirmed. Keep it as simple as a broad overview of the projects, potential budgets and timescales. Only give them more details once the job is confirmed.
An Open Relationship?
After a job is confirmed, I would give that person a proper brief and its at this point you need to make it very clear the terms of your relationship with them and with the client. Is it the case that you’re happy to introduce the client to your colleague for a small finders fee? Is it the case that the colleague will be working under you and under your brand name? Or it could also be that they remain their own person, but you manage the project.
Why So Troublesome?
With more people comes more problems. Even though your only act may be to introduce your colleague to your client, that makes you the third party of anything that happens between them. That means if your colleague does a bad job, you suffer as a result and vice versa. It’s like you’ve set two of your friends up on a date and they find they have nothing in common, they instantly wonder why you’ve put them together.
This is why its important to properly vet anyone you are going to work with, start them off on a few lower jobs and then introduce them to better clients, that way you can build up a good working rapport with them. If you are managing their work always build in extra time so that the client never sees a delay. Good communication skills are key throughout.
There is no plan B
If your colleague suddenly has something come up, or can’t work on the job try and have someone ready to take their place so that you’re not letting down your client. Where possible have one person (who should be you if you pitched) communicating with the client, this may sometimes lead to you being the middleman, but long term has less risk.