It’s the most-asked question from new soloists: How do I find more customers and clients? Well, think of it as a conveyer belt – new prospects should always be coming on as others are stepping off. And here are seven proven ways to keep the belt in motion.
1. Ask for referrals from current clients.
The key here is to establish a trusted rapport with your contacts. Remember: All business is personal. If you’ve done a great job for a current client, they’ll be happy to introduce you to colleagues at other firms.
2. Volunteer for an organization related to your industry.
There’s no better way to meet interesting and influential people than by volunteering for your industry association. In exchange for your time, you can showcase your abilities, often to important decision-makers, then reap the benefits of all your new connections.
3. Establish yourself as an expert by publishing articles in print or on the Web.Choose a topic that interests you and highlights your expertise – then write it up. Pitch these articles to an industry publication, or publish them online in a forum or your own Web site. Write to serve others, not for self-promotion. As part of your marketing toolkit, include copies of the published articles or the addresses of the Web sites that featured them.
4. Touch base with former clients.
Pick up the phone and call former clients. Chances are they’ll be pleased to hear from you and will fill you in on current projects. Don’t think of this as an obvious marketing ploy, rather as a friendly call. Even if no project is immediately forthcoming, it’s a good strategy to stay in touch. The next time an opportunity arises, you’ll be top-of-mind.
5. Create a new product or service, and let the world know about it.
Do you have some news to share? If so, create a press release and put it out on the wires for the world to know. Small business sites such as Digital Work make it easy to do. In addition, send it off to industry publications, media outlets and Web sites – and post it on your own site, too.
6. Gently push your comfort zone.
It’s often difficult for us soloists to promote ourselves. If you’re not the type to loudly sing your own praises, take heart. You don’t need a megaphone to hawk your services, but you do need to be openly enthusiastic about your work. Assess the opportunities for promoting your company and stretch just a bit beyond your comfort zone. The challenge will pay off.
7. Make scouting for new business a natural part of your everyday operations. Yes, it may seem forced to be on the prowl for new business all the time. But successful soloists develop strategies for keeping a pipeline full of potential clients. It begins with a marketing mindset – realize that everything you do should help you serve existing customers – and leapfrog you to the next ones. The best way to get new business is to do superior work for current clients. Then have processes in place to let influential others know about it.