Limiting Discrimination

It must be difficult for clients to take the advice from third parties. Not only would they have their business concerns, many would be unaware of the role their own biases play.

I’ve never met Benjamin Hollway, a young freelance front-end developer from Brighton, but I have to admit that I like his attitude.

Yesterday he published a post about age discrimination, specifically, how he is unable to attend many industry meet ups / after parties because many of the venues are 18+.

He also finds it difficult with clients:

Freelancing has been nearly impossible because people don’t trust a teenager to deliver on promises, or to know what they are doing.
Benjamin Holloway - Source

The traditional business model is familiar to all of us. The senior, most experienced individuals, sit atop this structure. They dictate the projects and processes of the organisation and rely upon middle management to get them done.

Today’s world flips this model on its head. While these structures are still valid, we see young people, like Benjamin, ignored because they are deemed inexperienced, when in fact, they are perfectly placed to facilitate the change required by the business.

Benjamin: this was the same for me. And I have to admit, prior to my agency career, I left a few jobs because I felt ignored. However, with time, I learned how to discuss business on an equal footing.

Dressing the part

This doesn’t mean getting all suited and booted. Instead dress smart and professionally, but make sure you’re comfortable, and yourself! It’s important that you’re relaxed and confident.

Having the right equipment

A friend once told me that when they freelanced, they always had to haggle on their price, until they invested in a Mac laptop. Clients assumed that with a Mac, my friend was more qualified to help them.

I know this doesn’t help in terms of cost, and personally I hate this, but I think it’s a bias a lot of people have.

Contracts

If the problem is convincing potential clients you’ll deliver upon your promises, promoting your belief in contract law would help. The most famous of contract resources would be Andrew Clarke’s Contract Killer.

Speaking the right language

Using the right language is important. I found I sometimes came across too ‘geeky’ and while clients expect this, they want to know you understand their business and the challenges they face.

If you ever want to convey the importance of a design change, or strategy decision, try to quantify it into earnings gained or lost. This never fails.

Most importantly…

With all the above in mind, my most important lesson is to be yourself. Never forget that you are the expert, the client, no matter how intimidating they may seem, has hired you because you have a skill set they do not.

They will buy into your confidence and likability.