Finding clients can actually be the biggest stumbling block to your consulting business success. Lack of confidence and nerves are the main culprits. But, there are ways of getting rid of your nerves and I’ve found two ways myself. I’ve listed them below in the hope that they help you too.
One way I get around dealing with my nerves is to picture myself being confident in the situation I am about to go into so, head up, shoulders back, say to myself “I can do it” and off I go. Well, it works for me anyway! The following is another method I have used. (Try it for yourself, to see how easy it is.
I would advise you to try it out on a friend first to get some practice! Think back to a particular event or goal in your life, which resulted from your own hard work, tenacity, and determination.
Remember the feeling of elation when you eventually reached that goal. Remember the smiles on the faces of the people around you and the satisfaction they also got.
Next; with these feelings, picture in your mind’s eye, a large circle on the ground of your favorite color. Again in your mind’s eye, step inside this circle with these feelings. (I wonder how you feel now!) Whenever you are dealing with people outside of your comfort zone, you can use these simple methods to immediately give yourself confidence in your own capabilities.
Apart from being confident, you also have to look at the part. It’s no good walking into a company with scruffy jeans and an old shirt. Also, check your shoes! Little things like your poor personal appearance will put people off you within seconds. Now that you are now armed with the skills, confidence, and determination, we can move on.
Ways of Finding Clients
To get started with building your portfolio of clients, one of the best ways forward would be to offer a free service to a local charity. They would probably be delighted to have your support and you would be gaining by having your first client. Potentially, this could lead to offers of work through the connections they may have associated with the charity.
After that, you could select, say 2 – 3 new local businesses and help them get started by setting up a blog for them, implementing a database, preparing templates, or any other tasks relevant to their business. Just by offering them a few hours of free (or, at a special price) support, you will again be building your portfolio and they will be happy to give you testimonials in the future.
By doing this, you will also get the opportunity to see what their company needs will be as they grow and can suggest ways that you would be able to help them move forward. They, in turn, will have built a relationship with you and will repay you by giving you their future business.
Word of Mouth
This is actually one of the very best ways I’ve found of generating local business. Just chatting with your friends about what you are doing on the internet, usually intrigues them enough to want to know more. They may have a business themselves and love the fact that they can use someone to help them with their business, in the knowledge that they already trust that person.
Or they may know someone who is looking for the type of expertise you have and will pass your details on. If your contact actually works for a large company, get as much information as you can about the procedures that this company uses.
Try and find out from them, without putting them into a position of conflict of interest, where the company is having problems with particular skills? Then, get hold of their advertising or promotional literature, so that you are completely informed of what the company’s mission statement is and what their future growth plans are.
Armed with all this information, make an appointment with the personnel department, of whom you already must have the full name and title, and let them know how you could benefit their company.
With a mailshot, it is very important that you have the name and the job title of the person who would be responsible for confirming your contract. You’ll find the addresses in the Yellow pages or local directories and will have to spend quite a bit of time telephoning each company to get the names and titles. Do expect people to be a little wary of giving you this information at first because they get many cold callers! If you don’t do that, then you might as well not bother doing a mailshot at all. Prepare the mailshot to be sent to 100 of the local companies, informing them of what benefits they will receive by employing your services for just ‘x’ amount of hours a month.
Make a special offer to the first 20 clients who employ your services by a certain date. Repeat this practice on a fortnightly basis until you build up your database of clients to fill the number of hours that you want to work each day.
You should also follow up with a telephone call after the first week. It is very important that you use high-quality printing paper and envelopes as this sets a precedent for your quality of work.
Following is an example of a mailshot letter.
Your Company Name
Your Company Address 2 Town Postcode
Telephone No 00000000000
Mr. A Other
Address 1 Town
Dear Mr. Other
Your Business Success With Our Freelance Internet Marketing
Service If more customers are important to the success of your business and you want to increase your sales without having to invest a large sum of money, our new service could be exactly what you need right now. We are an internet marketing company whose service is to promote local businesses through the internet, with the benefit of a two-hour weekly contract.
Our services include some of the following:
- Promoting your products, using appropriate internet marketing advertising campaigns.
- Building interactive websites, which will enable your potential customers to be updated immediately of new products as they become available and also for them to be able to contact you immediately.
- Updating your existing website to generate more traffic and to bring it to the top of the Google search engine.
Can your business afford not to take this two-hour weekly contract?
For more information on the services we have available to generate more customers for your business, please contact us to discuss this and to make an appointment.
When you are out and about generally and find that you are impressed by a particular retail business, ask for their business card. Then, when you get home, research their website, their links, competition etc, and contact them later with your ideas of how you could help them to generate more traffic to their store or to their site.
Again, look at local companies. Check out their websites to see if there is any way that they could benefit from your services. If they don’t have a website, contact them and request company literature or any public data that they may have. As soon as you have put together a profile of the company’s needs with regards to your services, then make an appointment and introduce your consultancy service to them.
It’s often very hard to get free advertising through a press release in your local newspaper or magazine. But there are ways to do it and the following is how I managed to sneak myself into a monthly magazine. Firstly, I kept an eye on what a particular writer’s theme was. Then I sent him a letter complimenting him on one of his articles and hinting that I had a good story which he might like for his column.
(Your headline is your bait to catch him!) Well, I caught him with my headline, got an interview written in the magazine, and a couple of months later; he telephoned me to ask me if I would do a radio interview! Just to repeat, the most important part of this exercise is your headline. There are online services which you could use, such as www.PRweb.com but as you are trying to find local companies unless you can find a free trial, I would wait until you have tried many of the other local sources.
There are many agencies online you can register with, that will be looking for the skill sets you have. These companies will earn a commission on any contracts they put you into, so it is worthwhile registering with them as they want to make money too. There are also websites, which will allow you to list your skills and by registering, you will be putting your profile out on the internet to be found by the companies who are looking for exactly what you have to offer. Just Google search your ‘phrase’ + freelance or contract.
Group networking is also very important in building your business profile in the locality. Join the local Chamber of Commerce Join your local Business Link Join as many small business networking groups and any other groups where people mix together, even school meetings.
You’ll often find that agencies, such as Business Link will have an open day once a year or so, where local small businesses can promote their services to the other companies in the area. I would check this out as soon as possible because there may be such a day coming up.
Set up a Local Blog on a Community Theme
This is a quick way to get lots of interest in your business and you could incorporate it with the PR section above as well. Find a theme that a lot of local people are interested in. You could even contact your local council to get details of all the groups and meetings in the area. Focus on the largest group. Then contact as many members of the business community as possible and offer free advertising on your blog. You’ll need to set up pages specifically for the different categories.
Make sure that on the first page you have continuing news of your projects. You could even have a section to highlight one company a week. This way, people will come back to the blog on a regular basis to check if they have been selected. Get them to register for updates through an autoresponder which will enable you to keep in touch with them on an ongoing basis. Make special offers for using one of your skills for certain weeks or for a particular event, such as your father’s 90th birthday, on the blog.
This could entice them to try your skills at a reduced rate and then come back for more! (Obviously, you should add Adsense, Affiliate programs, and paid ads on the blog as well, to generate even more income.) You can use Blogger which is free but if you want to set up a professional blog with all the plug-ins, you really do need to learn all about WordPress. Again, here are the two recommendations, which I use and have used with great success. WordPress Training I found this great for getting started. Web 2.0 WordPress Free Report With this you can create superior blogs. I would go as far as to say, probably the very best blogs created, on the internet.
Local Magazines Village, Church, Schools
It is amazing the amount of traffic you can generate from a small, yet very cheap advertisement in village, church or even school magazines. You could even travel slightly outside of your area to advertise, if, for instance, there was a private school in that neighborhood. From my own experience, a small advert in a local village magazine brought in more clients than I ever would have imagined.
The cost was nominal. Not only were the new clients from the area but also from outside the area as well. Some people, from outside an area, when visiting friends, etc, would pick up the local magazine and take it back to their own home and then telephone from wherever they lived. There were times when I couldn’t take on the work they wanted because of the location but that wasn’t always the case and all in all, I was amazed at the number of clients I acquired through using this method.
Also, whilst I was with one client that I gained from the advertisement, they would tell me that when I had finished, another company wanted me to visit them as well. (This goes back to the word of mouth section.) There came a point in time when I no longer needed to advertise and look for clients, they found me anyway!
Local Newspaper Job Classified Section
Just by searching the local newspaper to see what jobs are advertised, you may find openings for yourself. When a company is looking for a person with a particular skill they generally highlight in bullets the main criteria they are looking for in that position.
As soon as you see a position listed with the skills that you have, contact them and offer these services on a contract basis. They may be delighted that you approached them because it could save them a lot of money in the long run.
Instead of paying for a full-time staff member, they will only have to pay for your specific hours, onsite or offsite.