Alan Henry recently wrote a Lifehacker article about the importance of a cultural fit in a job interview. As creatives, we regularly have job interviews with potential clients. It starts with the first mention of your name to the client by a friend or trusted advisor, or perhaps a web search, and continues with a review of your work and of you. If you’re an experienced professional, the qualifications don’t matter nearly as much as a cultural fit.
Will you, as a commissioned artist, fit with your client?
Too many creatives fail to ask this question of themselves. Moreover, they fail to help guide the client in that direction (the client of course doesn’t really know usually, other than a gut feeling). The result? The creative takes any client who comes along. This inevitably leads to failure to build trust, resentment, and deliverables that don’t fit the client’s needs. So why do some do this? Sometimes it’s unconscious, and sometimes, especially in this economy, it’s because the creative needs the money. But there are always alternatives–perhaps value can be added for an existing or a past client, or maybe the creative can find a product or service for which she is skilled and start generating income that way. But revenue generation is not the same as profit generation, and getting the wrong client is most certainly a way to unhappiness. Short term gain is not worth the long-term loss.
So with each interview you have, ask yourself, am I a good cultural fit for this client? Will they be happy with what I can produce for them? Will I be happy working with this person? If the answer is no, recommend someone who can make them happy if possible. They’ll appreciate your expertise and your honesty. And this leaves open the possibility of the perfect client for you walking into the door next.