What are the benefits for proofreaders of meeting clients face to face?

You might have read my last blog post about many proofreaders enjoying getting out of the office now and again, even if they love their job. So while the dominating features of many self-employed proofreaders are spending a lot of time alone working, doing admin and marketing, and generally running a business, another, for me at least, is rarely seeing a client face to face. Some proofreaders, though, for example those who work with local businesses, charities, and other organisations, will probably see clients regularly, and in-house proofreaders will have their colleagues for company. But I suspect it’s not uncommon for many proofreaders to work as I do most of the time: it’s just me and my computer. And to be honest, most of the time I enjoy this set-up.

Business trip to the Caribbean, anyone?

About 50% of my clients live outside the UK but in the EU, and I have several clients who live beyond Europe, in countries such as China, Mexico, and Canada. I don’t have any clients who live in my local area. It would be lovely to have business trips abroad to meet some of my clients (especially to glamorous, warm locations, preferably with a nearby beach!), but almost all of my communication is done by email. Most clients seem to prefer that anyway, and it’s rare that clients phone me. Emailing is quick and can be done any time, and my clients are usually busy people with pressing schedules.

I’ve worked for quite a lot of my clients for several years now and have got to know them fairly well through email. I’m lucky – they’re very nice people and I enjoy communicating with them. But a face-to-face meeting probably can’t be beaten as far as cementing a relationship is concerned.

The benefits of meeting face to face

A few months ago I was contacted by a Portuguese client whose book I had recently proofread. He said he was coming to England to visit his daughter (also a client) and would be staying in a nearby town. He asked if I’d like to meet up. A couple of months later, I met the client and his wife in a local café and had a really enjoyable morning chatting about work, families, and a whole list of other things. They’re lovely people and are interesting, easy to talk to, and a lot of fun (Carlos, I owe you a cup of tea and a scone next time you visit!).

I came home from the meeting feeling lucky that I have such great clients and full of enthusiasm for proofreading more of their texts. A big part of my job satisfaction comes from maintaining good relationships with clients and making sure they’re happy with the work I do for them, and a face-to-face meeting, certainly in this case, confirmed that the client was delighted with the work I’d done and had already recommended me to a colleague, so I came home with a warm, fuzzy glow. I think it’s time to start planning another leisurely chat over tea and scones…