Often our freelance clients find that, after taking the scary leap into being self-employed, the next challenge is building a good client list, preferably one with great clients who pay first time (please see our blog on Credit Chasing) and are regular return visitors/customers.
However, one thing they have often never been before is a Sales person. A lot of people forget that once you start up on your own – it’s not just your job you have to be amazing at, whether you are a specialist in IT, Chocolate Making, Hairdressing, Deep Sea Diving, Singing, Teaching, Joinery – you now have to also become great at Marketing, PR and Sales. This can be a massive shock to the system.
So what direction do we usually steer them in?
It’s a well known fact that people like doing business with people – which is great news for the friendly freelancers, as it means their services might be chosen over a faceless, larger corporation. But your face is important – get it out there.
Networking (especially if you live in a city like Aberdeen – which has a ‘everyone knows everyone’ mentality) can get your name (and face) out there and can introduce you to some essential contacts for the future. Never forget to just be yourself, don’t be afraid to engage and chat with strangers – they are simply friends you haven’t met. Listen and talk in the correct proportions and make an effort to learn about other business people – knowing how you can help them and they can help you is a great resource. You wouldn’t go on a date with someone that spent an hour talking about their best feature – engaging in Business Networking is the same.
BNI, Aberdeen Business Network, Grampian Chamber of Commerce, Business Network Scotland, and for the ladies… Scottish Women Into Business, and Connect925 – are some of our recommended international and local networking groups.
Use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, even the phone and email. These are all excellent resources for you to follow up with people you have met in real life, but are also avenues to great online communities of people whom you can help/who can help you in real life. Following up is essential – meet someone once and you’re likely to forget them – follow up and they could be the connection that leads you to your dream client in the future, or you could be the doorway to theirs!
All social media takes time, and it’s up to you to develop a structured plan detailing which resources work best for your business and how much time investment you can manage.
Want advice on something? Shout via social media – you’ll be amazed how willing to help the world is.
Like anything, building a good client base takes time and effort, but it’s worth it, often making the difference between a profitable, rewarding and engaging year, and a lonely, penniless one!
If you meet people who need your services and you know you can help them – don’t be afraid to offer! Honesty is the best policy – tell someone if they are your dream client and that you’d love to help them, show them you are excited about their business, it’ll spread!
So what are you waiting for? Dive in, the results are lovely!