Can someone give me a succinct explanation of the rules regarding talking to a client before they hire you? Upwork video/call has never worked for me (my fault I live in the twilight zone) and there is a bright yellow highlighted security warning if you mention connecting off Upwork.
I just want to have a quick chat about the project, is that allowed or do we need to have a contract in place first.
Yes, there are highlighted security warnings.
These are only warnings however.
Upwork has no particular rules regarding talking to a client before they hire you.
YOU need to establish your own rules for yourself.
Upwork ALLOWS clients and freelancers to converse via phone, Skype, email, messaging, texting, chat, etc. Upwork ALLOWS clients and freelancers to use any form of communication they want to after freelancers have been officially hired. AND before freelancers have been hired.
The main rule is that freelancers are not allowed to be paid off-platform. That has nothing to COMMUNICATION, however.
Well, from my experience, I have succesfully been able to use upwork video call with clients before they hire me, however, there have been cases where they prefer to use skype or some other channels to talk about the project prior hiring. Upwork simply warns you that in order to keep the contract policies safe, it's better to use their platform to communicate with your potential client. At the end of the day, everybody is free to connect their own way... just try to keep as much as possible inside upwork to minimize risks and, if the contract is approved, then try to maintain conversation through upwork. Their messaging system is without a doubt a great evidence if something goes wrong along the way.
Hope this helps