All business communication strategies are offer great value and ample benefits. That is a solid rule to follow and useful perspective to have. When vetting potential clients, one should know that there are key indicators of their actual intention to initiate a business relationship or not. Foremost among these clear signs of intent to create or seem to create a business arrangement are consistency.
Consistency is a major sign of a willingness to initiate, establish, build, maintain and grow a business relationship. For example, if a potential client requests a meeting, then be sure let them choose the date. This way, if they later need to reschedule, the onus is on them to explain why they were not able to meet on the date that they chose for getting together. If the meeting is rescheduled numerous times, this is a clear indicator of a lack commitment to the project. One should be careful to not offer any advice or do any work, until the meeting occurs and / or until a retainer is established. Otherwise, one could easily begin working for free and once this process begins, it will be expected of the potential client. Do not allow this pattern to manifest. Set clear terms for communication, for meetings, for work to be completed and timelines for all aspects of the working relationship.
As well, if there are initially many phone calls, without a meeting being set, then this is a clear indicator that the relationship is becoming one of a social nature and not being focused on a project. As early as possible in the business communications process; request that the potential client complete an intake form, or to send an e-mail detailing the nature of the work they are seeking to be completed. If the potential client is unwilling to commit the ideas to writing, then it is likely that they are not serious about a business partnership. Also, limit the number and length of telephone calls and be sure to hold a meeting as early as possible within the onset of communications.
Be sure to document all communications, by phone and by e-mail. If documents were created and mailed, be sure to be scrupulous in having at least one copy other than the original. Later on, once it has been determined that the business relationship is not going to be moving forward, one can reference dates and times of telephone calls, e-mail correspondence and the time spent creating any written materials. Therefore, one can create and send an accurate invoice for the time spent for working on the project.
Only you can determine your value and worth. But there are some people in this world that will quite happily assign work to you and expect you to begin completing it without committing to any payment. They will create much hype as to the importance and value of the project to the community and to the business world. Then they will try to persuade you to be part of the project because of what they believe to be your expertise in this area. But do not be wooed, but frivolous words of praise. Either establish the seriousness of the business relationship and set the payment terms or just accept that you are willing to volunteer your time for the financial gain of the so-called potential client.