As you grow your teamlance business and start to scale your micro-company, you’ll have a few wins — and some disappointments. It’s an expected part of any freelance career, and teamlancing is no different. Some clients seem easy to snag, while you get your hopes up for others that never result in a contract.

If your teamlance has been struggling to get from the pitch deck to the dotted line, it may be time to readjust your approach, operational model and deliverables.

Executives share what they look for when choosing a teamlance

In a competitive marketplace where every opportunity has a surplus of applicants, ensuring your teamlance stands out from the rest is vital.

We spoke with marketing professionals and human resources managers who make hiring decisions to understand better what matters in a teamlance. Here, they give candid — and extremely helpful — advice.

What executives look for when choosing a teamlance: Teamlancers with positive attitudes.

1. Teamlancers with positive attitudes.

This may seem like an obvious fact, but people like to work with happy people. This doesn’t mean that every teamlance member needs to grin from ear-to-ear on video calls, but more so, that everyone expresses enthusiasm.

As April White, a marketing expert and the president and founder of Trust Relations, puts it: teamlances should seem hungry for work — no matter how glossy or glamorous the current assignment may or may not be. By being eager to learn, tackle a new project, and provide a solution, the client will have more confidence in the teamlance’s ability to perform:

“When hiring anyone — but especially teamlances — it’s important to find people who are proactively looking for ways to be helpful, get the job done without handholding or oversight, and provide additional value wherever possible.”

2. A team that can pay attention to the details.

When bringing in a teamlance, Madeline Pratt, the CEO and founder of Fearless In Training has a set of perimeters she checks off her list. The first — and in her opinion, the most important — is attention to detail.

Since companies look to outsource work that would take them too long to complete or they don’t have the resources to handle internally, a teamlance can’t be micromanaged every step of the way. In a world that’s continuously becoming more remote, Pratt says this is even more important, and if a teamlance can’t follow instructions “to a T” — they won’t receive the contract.

What executives look for when choosing a teamlance: A sense of mutual respect.

3. A sense of mutual respect.

Part of the reason why a teamlance will only become more popular in the months — and years — to come is due to demand for professionalism. How come?

Take these factors into consideration:

  • Companies will have limited budgets to bring on full-time, salaried employees
  • Companies will have even harder goals to meet to remain competitive
  • Companies will need to remain relevant in a world that’s changing by the minute, often without notice or predictability
  • Companies will need to outsource services to be completed at the expert level to meet demand

Freelancers who are able to join forces and put their skill set into a united force are a much more attractive candidate for a business with lean margins. They don’t need to look anywhere else to complete a project from start to finish, and thus, they save time sourcing other consultants.

It also paves the runway for a mutual-respect relationship, which is a non-negotiable for Nerissa Zhang, marketing guru and the CEO of The Bright App. Not only as a female in leadership, but as a woman of color, she considers a shared valued system, a level of trust and confidence top priorities.

4. Teamlancing pros who are proactive.

You likely don’t need us to remind you, but relationship-building is a fundamental component of a buzzing freelance business. This requires ambition, as well as the willingness to reach out, even when there aren’t current opportunities, according to Page Jeter, the co-founder of Create Hospitality and the founder of Create Entertainment.

In fact, she says being proactive is one of the absolute best qualities a teamlance can have, since it keeps them top of mind for gigs, and sometimes can drum up inspiration for new business outreach. Much like you created strategies for client retention as an independent self-employed freelancer, you should join forces with your teamlance to develop similar strategies.

This could be assigning one person to email past clients to share updates and check-in, among other ideas. Most of all, keep it friendly and helpful, Jeter says:

“Times are weird right now, so removing the ego and what we think we should be doing helps us figure out what we can actually do, how we can be creative and how we can support others during these times.”

What executives look for when choosing a teamlance: The ability to be independently resourceful.

5. The ability to be independently resourceful.

When a teamlance first onboards a client, they should schedule a call to cover all essential and relevant questions. This helps guide the start of the project and should provide all of the necessary information to complete their magic. Should a roadblock arise, however, White says it’s essential to have a teamlance that can work together to be resourceful while awaiting clarification:

“It’s much better to complete a draft of something as thoroughly as possible by doing everything in your power to figure out the answers — and then possibly insert placeholders for questions you have — rather than ask too many questions along the way. Clients who hire teamlancers typically want to hand off a project and not think about it again until it returns to them.”

6. A group that is organized.

One of the most attractive and promising qualities of a teamlance is that it appears to have their flow down to a science. Maybe this is through a digital management system, a corporate email, or something else entirely, but the goal is to have everyone on the same page, working toward the same goal. Zhang says when a team is organized, you can see gaps and opportunities for improvement in processes — not only your own but also your client:

“Nothing is more valuable to a remote team than someone who is constantly making everyone else’s job more streamlined. Learn how to be that type of teamlancer.”

When communicating with a potential client, don’t be afraid to share this information on the organizational process:

  • An onboarding deck that outlines goals, timelines and deliverables
  • A calendar outlining all deadlines, revisions if necessary, and other vital information
  • A weekly progress digest that’s sent to key members on the client-side
  • An invitation to join any working systems that may make sense to be client-facing

This will build trust in your client to hire you. Plus, it’ll make you more effective as a team. “The easier it is for you to add additional teamlance processes into your existing process, the more quick and efficient you’ll be in your work. You’ll also be able to keep track of the several different teamlance projects you’re likely to pick up if you’re incorporating their processes into your own existing one,” Zhang continues. “This will help ensure you never miss a deadline or leave one of your teams hanging, making you an essential member of that teamlance.”

What executives look for when choosing a teamlance: The ability to stick to deadlines.

7. The ability to stick to deadlines.

As every marketer and writer knows, sometimes projects are delayed. Sometimes they are put on hold, even. But any disturbance in a timeline should be the client’s doing — and not the teamlancers. Or as Zhang puts it: If we all agree that the deadline is Wednesday at 4 p.m., that’s when it should be done — no ifs, ands or buts. “This is so important because a teamlance who can’t stick to deadlines will bring everyone else down,” she shares.

One way to cut back on any mishaps is to host regular accountability check-ins and one-on-ones. At Zhang’s company, these happen like clockwork, and they are an open forum to discuss what’s reasonable in teams of deadlines, and provide the stage for asking questions. She challenges every member of a teamlance to understand their own working style and to be honest about how much time tasks take to provide the best level of communication.

8. A teamlancing group with an impressive portfolio.

Sure, you may have a portfolio for yourself — but what about your teamlance? Pratt urges groups to build an impressive portfolio that demonstrates your best work. In general, her company tends to favor hiring folks who have a strong web presence and killer references from past clients.

Not only does this allow them to check-in on how your teamlance functioned and delivered, but you can share how you’ve helped companies grow and meet their goals, too.

Learn more about the new era of teamlancing: