Here’s a tricky one. A client (or your boss) comes to you asking if you can handle a certain type of work that you’ve never done before. Sure, you know about it, and have been around other people doing it, but you, yourself, have never practiced that particular skill.
What do you do? Take the job and risk doing it wrong, or pass on the assignment and lose out on the chance to deepen your client relationship (or impress your boss)?
Here are some alternatives:
- Learn the skill.
There are so many great tutorials out there that you can find a great demonstration of nearly anything. (I’m looking at you YouTube.) There are also some great resources like Lynda.com, where you can learn skills at a deeper level, and ensure you remain current on the latest techniques and technologies.
- Let your client know that you know an expert who would be perfect for the project.
Referring the job out offers you several strategic advantages, depending on how you want to message it. It says you are part of a network of professionals who can get anything done. It says you want your client to get the best, even if it costs you an opportunity. It can also tacitly imply you are in high demand for your core skill—which puts you in great position when it comes time to negotiate.
- Use the opportunity to build a deeper relationship with your client.
Honesty can go a long way in managing clients. Let your client know that, although you don’t have a specific example of the project at hand in your portfolio, you have worked on a similar or related project in the past. Connect the current project to your understanding of and experience with your client’s overall goals … something no mere technician can match!