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International Association of Facilitators Asia Conference 2016 Hualien Taiwan - Barbara Mackay - When things get really complex - choosing clients

5 reasons why we pick our clients (It’s for your benefit, too)

Yes, we pick our clients. But it’s for our clients’ benefit too.

Before you think I’m picky with my clients because I’m making my millions, I have to qualify that I’m just a young graphic facilitation entrepreneur wanting to do work that’s good for me and hence, beneficial to the client.

This was the point brought home to us too, at the recent #IAFAsia2016 conference where we led the Graphic Recording Contingent.

Seasoned facilitator Barbara MacKay shared some amazing insights into the how and why of deciding whether to accept a facilitation job, which helped us make sense of my experience with client engagement so far.

#1 Do we have time to plan? 

We’re happy to respond to client requests at short notice (“Are you available tomorrow?”) when we have the capacity. However, often times, this increases the cost for the client because we’ve got to rush to get the logistics and setup sorted out – that’s where rush fees kick in.

With the short turnaround, we may not be performing at our best even though the work gets done. That’s not what we’d want for the client and ourselves if we can help it.

And with really short lead time, we can’t work with the organisers and facilitators on how we can integrate the visuals into the experience for even greater impact on the learning experience.

(We’d say: 7 days’ lead time is good, and the more the merrier.)

#2 Are we working on cool stuff?

We like to say yes to fun projects that create social good, like this one.

#3 “Chim”, but not overly so

We love working on things we know, but we love learning and capturing new things we previously didn’t know too. Also keeps us fresh and grounded.

A frequently asked question for us: How much do you need to already understand about the topic before taking on the job?

Answer: Not much. We can read up (trust us) given sufficient lead time (see #1), and most of the time, if we’re engaged, it’s to capture the key messages, themes, understandings and commitments anyway. We’re not here to repeat stats and charts off the screen (at least not in a live graphic recording/ graphic facilitation situation).

#4 Feeds me and supports me well

Can I work for free? I do run a business/ work a job like you do too, so why isn’t the professional worthy of his/her wages?

But that’s not sustainable for me nor you. We can do the work we do on site for the few hours you see us doing it, because we’ve spent hours, months and years honing our craft. There’s preparation before the session, and there’s follow up after the session. There are overheads to be paid to ensure we can support you fully and professionally.

When we commit to a job, we want to make sure we can deliver, so we will need to be properly valued and supported.

That’s not to say I snub pro bono and low bono projects altogether – but there will have to be good reasons to say yes to (and I’ll need to be well fed enough already).

#5 Can we collaborate?

We’d like to understand your requirements better so we can tailor our approach for you.

Being picky is good, after all.