Whether as employees or clients, millennials have a reputation for being difficult to work with. I doubt that many millennials regard themselves that way, however. As a group, they tend to be very social and sociable, team- and group-oriented, and purposeful.

So what's the secret to getting along with this generation that is now and will continue for the next couple of decades to drive the housing and design markets? Do your homework and be prepared to make some changes in how you are used to working with clients.

Millennials now make up the largest portion of homebuyers. And while they have yet to reach the current level of demand for remodeling and design as the baby boomers, they are starting to catch up.

So who are these potential clients? Millennials are a diverse group in many ways. At present, though, industry data shows the large majority of millennial homebuyers are married, college-educated and fairly well off financially. A sizable portion has nonadult children living at home, while others are purchasing a home in anticipation of starting a family in the near future. One survey found some are looking to buy a home in order to have a place for one or more pets.

Some millennials with means and in opportune locations are purchasing new homes, but the majority buy existing homes — homes that need some updating, remodeling and/or redesign in order to best fit their desires and needs.

Following the general trend, millennials most often want to update and remodel the kitchen, which may also involve making changes to a dining and/or living area, and the master bathroom. Specialty rooms, such as home offices, laundry rooms, yoga and meditation/exercise rooms or hobby rooms also are popular.

Integrating technology and smart devices into all areas of the home is crucial. Because their work lives are intricately bound up with their personal lives, millennials want a home that both supports their work and offers spaces where they can retreat from it and other pressures of everyday life, and where they can entertain and interact with friends and family.

Millennials have a high respect for demonstrated expertise and little regard for credentials or hierarchy. When marketing to millennial prospects, think more in terms of serving in a consultant role — advising, as it were, one professional to another. Age is irrelevant. Results matter.

They will have done their research and have formulated ideas of their own in regards to design, products, price and budget. They are looking to you to fill in the gaps or resolve doubts they have and to help them in executing the project as a member of the "team." That doesn't mean you can't make suggestions or guide them to a better solution, but be prepared to explain the reasoning behind your recommendations and how it will produce a better outcome than what they have decided for themselves.

The best way to connect with millennials initially is through the internet and social media. Your reputation is important, but keep in mind that your reputation includes both how you brand yourself and what others especially former clients say about you, whether in person or online.

Maintaining regular communication is important as well, whether through texts or social media. With both friends and family or work colleagues, they are accustomed to giving and receiving frequent updates on their status, and they will expect the same from you. Needless to say, these days, pictures speak louder than words.

Since they tend to view themselves as directing their own projects, most millennials either prefer to do-it-themselves or hire a contractor to do those things they can't or don't have time to do themselves. That means those who contact you have thought through why they want to engage a designer.

In your initial meeting, take time to find out why they have made that decision, then show them why they have made a good choice in contacting you. It's important to gain their confidence and their trust. Once you've established a good rapport, it will be easier to work through the other terms of your relationship and manage the conversations about the goals and details of the project.

Millennials may be a bit different in how they approach projects and the role they expect to play. In the end, though, they want what all clients want a good result.

Don't assume they all want the same look or the same features in their home. Treat them as individuals and with respect, and you will find they find they can be fiercely loyal clients and generous referrals.