I love having the opportunity working with a number of diverse clients from very diverse backgrounds. There are certain clients though that you can – right from the initial contact – that are going to be “iffy” v. “ideal”.
I have learned over the years how to easily spot the “iffy” clients. They clients are always the ones that need something quick in an impossible timeframe, cannot articulate what they want, wants your advice but wants it done for a fraction of the time it would take to do it correctly, think they know more than you or “in my past life I was…”, or always are panicked. The big issue here is they know they need help – but they distrust you and the solution (regardless what it is).
The ideal clients (you know who you are!) can be spotted a mile away. They come to you with a clear idea of what they want, know how to properly articulate/document tasks, and understand that the company/consultant might have some ideas of how to best implement the solution. Most importantly – they realize they trust that you (the company/consultant) have the knowledge to do whatever it takes to create the best solution.
My suggestion to successful client/consultant relationships: learn to gauge the trust level and go with it. If you as the client do not trust the consultant – find someone else. It is more likely that you will find an issue with something, blame the consultant (perhaps even wrongly) and not only will you not trust the consultant – the consultant will get bitter as well. If you are the consultant – and you sense a trust issue – it is also time to move on. It seems hard – but really – those panicked phone calls, thoughts of “are they going to pay me?”, etc worth it? No. Move on and enjoy life!