It's a feeling. You know when it is right and definitely when it is not.
Also called gut feeling, intuition, or just having some good emotional intelligence and introspection to recognize if it is a good business fit or not. Sometimes first impressions are crucial.
Let's be honest we never know if we are a good fit or not until we complete a project or phase of a project together. Even after that, it is possible that the relationship can take a different turn based on miscommunication or misunderstanding that leads to mismatched expectations and eventual dissatisfaction. It is essential for a business or any relationship for both parties to have the ability to communicate well. To get your thoughts, concerns, and ideas across to the other side without stepping on a mine in the form of an emotional trigger and having the ability to perceive information with empathy and understanding.
To consider others and viewing the relationship as a win-win is a must if you ask me. Having the same negotiation style also puts the premise for collaboration rather than transaction-based interaction with the usual boss-subordinate dynamic. Whenever I have discovery calls or meetings, I am trying to assess precisely that: Do I have a partner on the other side who is as motivated and interested as me in solving a problem and creating a meaningful solution?
What I have learned in the past year regarding finding good clients is that working with them indeed feels pleasant and easy. Like you are working with a friend who has your best interest at heart: respecting your boundaries, being professional and polite, asking for help when needed, communicating doubts and problems in a transparent and non-confrontational way, a "we" attitude, giving detailed and constructive feedback and of course having a sense of humour.
One thing to be clear: while working with difficult or unsuitable clients, best believe that you will learn and grow more because they will challenge you and your patience. I remember accepting a project I knew won't be a good fit, but I deliberately put myself in a challenging situation because I knew it was time to test my abilities and learn some lessons. I also learned that to have smooth collaboration need to know myself well enough to define healthy boundaries and communicate important information promptly.
Also, one great piece of advice I recently heard from an entrepreneurship education at the Blue centre in Zagreb was: Don't react at first. Take time, think about it, ask and then act or react.
P.S. Another recommended read was the book Sales Dogs which uses the metaphor of dogs to say that a great salesperson is like a loyal, persistent, and lovable dog. It specifies, also that there are five different "breeds" and personalities. I will let you know how it is after I finish reading it. Also, wonder if the breeds apply to salespeople only or also to clients.
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You are also in luck! I am currently available for collaborations.