I'm going to explain: I'm a freelancer who collaborates with a couple of companies.

Because of reasons, that I don't know, one of them lost a client1 and I would like to contact them by myself, as a freelance, because I like the project. But before doing any step, for fairness, I told the company's proprietor what I wanted to do and she said it is ok, but I should give to her a 40% fee on the amount of my earning.

Another time, with another company, I found this situation with a colleague of mine and she had not been asked to acknowledge any "fee".

I'm not stealing any contact or project, I just want to find this person by myself and to have a direct "interview" as a freelance, I would work the project outside of the time dedicated to the company and I have no contract which states something similar...

So, to me, there is no reason she could ask me this.

In sum, I am profiting of the fact that a client found my name2 linked to the site of a company3 but then they decided to not work with them and I would like to contact them as a freelancer.

How should I handle the situation?

1 Where I would have been the only worker.
2 With my whole knowledge, they are the reason for which they decided to contact the company.
3 And they (the client) have thought I was one of their employees.


You were right to seek approval from your current client before approaching the potential client.

The only way you know about this contact is because of your work for your current client. You don't have the right to take privileged information based on your relationship with a client, and then use it for your own personal use.

Even though "simply getting the contact info" seems trivial, it is not: the contact details of a potential client are valuable in a competitive contract work environment. And you actually know a lot more than that: you have information about their current project and need for work.

This is not a line you want to cross, or mess around with. You did the right thing by getting your client's approval (even if the outcome ends up not being favorable).

A finder's fee is quite common in such a situation.

Your client is giving you something of value by allowing you to pursue this lead, so it's normal for them to get something in return. Not everybody does it, but there is nothing unusual about this.

40% is way too big, however.

A 40% fee is far too much for someone merely passing you a name.

See this question on Freelancing for some discussion of finder's fees--but note that this discussion is about an intermediary who is offering much more of a service: such as a recruiter going out and finding you work, and negotiating on your behalf. Even for that much higher level of service, a 40% fee is astronomically high.

You might try negotiating the fee down.

Something like 10% might be more reasonable. But the initial request for 40% might indicate that it is going to be difficult to agree on a rate that is reasonable for you.

If you can't agree, just move on to other potential clients.

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  • +1 for that last sentence. It's not worth ruining a relationship with an existing client for a potential one. The bargaining chip on the OP's side is that 10 or 20% of something is a good deal more than 40% of nothing. – Old_Lamplighter Jul 28 '16 at 12:45

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