Article by Wendy McCance
A few weeks ago I was having lunch with a business associate. We were talking about new social media goals when somehow we got off topic and began discussing how we each go after new clients.
I was a little envious to learn that my client’s business is so in demand that they have never prospected for new clients. The closest they have ever come to going after new customers was by attending networking events. Even then, I don’t think that going after new clients was the main reason they were attracted to the events. They are lucky in that the services they offer are needed by every business at one point or another.
My business on the other hand is all about prospecting continuously. Not every business needs a freelance writer or social media consultant. Half of the businesses that use a writer or social media manager fill those positions in-house. I have to admit, finding new opportunities is really a full job in itself. My client who runs a successful business felt that if they had to prospect as hard as I do, they wouldn’t have a business at all. They just aren’t comfortable with reaching out to people they don’t know to gain a sale. They also see it as exhausting work, which it can be.
I was amazed that someone would never have to worry about where the next new customer would come from. I didn’t realize that there were people out there that didn’t need to go after new business by reaching out on their own. I was a little envious when I thought about all of the additional time they had in their schedule because they didn’t have to make a slot to work on new business contacts.
My client has a career where they are a service provider. Because of the type of service provider they are, they are listed in some premium directories. Because of their knowledge and the accolades they have received, they are at the top of that directory list. Apparently, that directory has provided my client with a continuous flow of new accounts.
Over time I have been switching up the way I go about gaining new clients. I have a few tried and true methods, but I am always on the lookout for something new that can create more business much more quickly. I have often wondered how other people get new business, and I’m sure you, the reader have had the same curiosity about others. Below I have listed what I have tried, what has succeeded and some new approaches I am attempting. My hope is that this article will help inspire you to try out some new approaches or give you that boost you need to go out there with confidence and find new clients of your own.
Tried and True Prospecting Methods:
1. Completely filled out social media profiles with an email address and a thorough description of what I do. (I have gotten emails with work offers because I filled out my profiles and shared contact info)
2. Reach out on Twitter when I see someone might be looking for a freelancer or social media manager. (One of my biggest clients was snagged this way)
3. Share relevant content on LinkedIn. (I have been offered jobs on LinkedIn after demonstrating my capabilities in a post)
4. Reach out on LinkedIn to my connections to ask if they are in need of a writer. (The majority of my clients are found this way)
5. Attending networking events. (I rarely go to a networking event. It’s not really my thing. Even so, after each person is given the floor to introduce themselves, I tend to get a few interested people who come up to me after the event asking to use my services)
6. Word of mouth. (My friends and family know what I do for a living and will mention my services to others. I also get recommendations from clients and am lucky enough to get new business this way as well)
Prospecting Attempts That Fell Flat
1. Phone calls. (I don’t enjoy cold-calling and it has never worked for me)
2. Flyers in the mail. (Another dud. I don’t really have a business model where sending out flyers makes sense)
3. Placing information at local community centers and libraries. (Another flop. Not worth my time)
1. Sign up for 30 days FREE on LinkedIn’s premium account. I want to use the Sales Opportunity service (3rd highest service). The premium service allows you to create a prospecting list based on criteria such as job title, age, location etc… It’s another way to get more warm leads and, like I said, I can try it for 30 days free.
2. Sign up for 60 days FREE with Constant Contact. I have been wanting to try this out for a while. I want to put together an email campaign with a discounted offer. I can also try out a social campaign through Constant Contact to get more business off of Facebook.
I am a strong believer in the power of FREE. There are so many offers out there to get more organized, set up newsletters, marketing campaigns, ads and so forth that it would be really easy to go through loads of money per month.
Constant Contact charges $55.00 per month to email 2,500 – 5,000 people. LinkedIn charges $79.99 for their service. Granted, both companies have cheaper services available, but the amounts above reflect the prices I would pay for the features I am personally interested in.
If I do find that the money is worth it, obviously I will continue on with the plan. Either way, I feel lucky to be able to test it out without the pricey commitment.
Do you have to prospect for business in your field of work? What have you found works well? What has bombed and wasted your time? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about what our experiences have been like.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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