Find New Clients Easier

For every viable business, finding new customers is the top priority.  In our first annual survey of the freelance economy, a core objective was to understand the challenges, success and opportunities professionals experienced in securing new clients.  In this series of articles, we will explore all things client related, the first of which is different ways to secure new clients.

The feedback on finding clients, in the free text box format, ranged from “the most difficult thing there is” and “sucks” to “awesome” and “exciting to help another client bring their visions to life”.  However, regardless of your personality traits and the ease or difficulty in engaging in this process many options exist for you.  Identify those methods that appeal the most and where you see the highest degree of success.

The two most frequently utilized methods to find clients are Networking and Referrals at 67% and 64% of the time respectively.

Our survey revealed that networking and referrals were the two most frequently utilized methods to find clients.  Networking was included in 67% and referrals in 64% of the responses.  The results imply the success of those methods, even with the rise of technology driven methods such as Google, social media or job boards.  While our focus is on three key methods, the trust is that is a combination of methods is required for you to effectively win and retain new clients.

1. Networking

It’s simple: get involved.  The more you do, the quicker you build your network and more comfortable you become.  A few effective ways to start include:

  • Search for local networking events hosted by local commerce departments, business incubators or universities or colleges.
  • Become active in your community.
  • Switch up your work space by including rotations at coffee shops.
  • Co-working spaces are rising in popularity, in part because of the networking opportunity involved. Some even open up their space for free one day a week.
  • Engage with your social network … in person. LinkedinLocal is a good example of effectively using a social network to get people together.

While the above list focuses on in person networking, networking through your social networks are very important.  They offer an excellent opportunity to compliment the above and help develop relationships in a low touch mechanism.

2. Referrals

Finding clients through referrals should be a high priority.  Not only are referrals an incredibly cost-effective way to acquire new clients, your satisfied client is endorsing you and your services. It immediately instills a level of trust between you and the prospect, which allows you to focus on the solution or services you can provide without being distracted by marketing.

The obvious benefits that referrals bring should motivate you to be proactive to ask your satisfied clients for a referral.  Have you asked your client for a referral?  If not, why?  STOP.  Open your email right now and send three emails asking for a referral.  Keep it short and simple by checking in how things are going and being transparent to keep you in mind as you are always looking for new opportunities.

Be proactive to ask your satisfied clients for a referral

It feels amazing to get that referral email out of the blue.  However, do not wait for it to happen, take initiative and accelerate the process!

3. Job Boards / Online Platforms

Online platforms that connect businesses and professionals have risen in popularity among the freelance community.  The primary objective is make finding clients easier and allow you to focus on what you are good at, namely providing value through your services.  Typical staffing and employment agencies are also increasingly catering toward the part-time and freelance professional to allow you to work in an on-demand capacity.

The options are seemingly endless in a crowded space.  More competition also means more choice for clients to post their jobs, creating a challenge for the platforms to ensure supply and demand is matched.  Here are a couple of tips for you to consider:

  • Research!  It’s an obvious statement but do your homework of the prospective platforms you want to source clients from.  Do they have the jobs you are interested in available?  Are you a good fit?  Is it well trafficked?
  • Consider specialist platforms that serve a specific profession.  The value proposition to their customers is expertise and a higher caliber of professional.
  • Focus on one or a handful of platforms.  Winning new clients is partly about elevating the trust level.  The platforms communicate this about you by your track record of jobs.  The more satisfied clients you serve, the higher credibility you have with new prospects.
  • Some of the most well-known platforms and agencies include Upwork, Fiverr and Robert Half.

What Next?

Your clients are the lifeblood of your business.  Adopt a strategy and action plan that includes a variety of methods and focus on those that work best for you.  Make sure you are committed and be prepared to try new approaches.  Lastly, enjoy it as the result of a satisfied client feels great!

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