Among the scares and stresses of being an independent contractor or business owner is finding (and implementing) strategies for landing your first client. Finding someone to use your goods or services requires work, a good bit of branding, social media marketing, and, of course forward steps on your end.
At first it might feel like this process is daunting. Or, perhaps, the opposite—maybe this seems like a breeze! Wherever you stand, it’s important to learn strategies for landing clients and find people who will buy into what you’re trying to market and sell. And that process begins with a few essential steps.
Whether you’re just beginning your business entity, or well on your way, having strategies for reaching out to potential customers, engaging them with your content, and encouraging them to make a purchase is essential. It’s one thing to have people who are interested; it’s another to turn that interest into purchases.
Not only do you want to show potential clients that they need what you have to offer, but you want to do so with a good mix of positivity, confidence, and gentleness as to encourage them, rather than scare or push them away. Once you have your clients secured, you can then work on building and growing your network. However, it all starts with landing your first client. And here are some strategies to help you do just that.
1. Use social media as a tool.
Searching for, and landing your first client honestly comes from a few places: your network, your social media profiles and connections, and the people you know. First reach out to the people immediately connected to you, for example your family, friends, and people they know. After that, start to reach out through your network, meaning people you’ve worked with in the past or are in touch with on LinkedIn and other job services/websites.
After you’ve made those immediate connections, use social media as a tool. Social media is powerful because it bridges the gap between fun and professional. You can reach out to people through cold pitches (more on that below!), through relevant comments and messages, and through groups of like-minded people. The opportunities are endless!
Landing your first client is easy when you use social media to reach out to people about collaborations, about your products, about advertisement opportunities, and general inquiries. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone! Just remember to be more about the personal aspect than the ‘pitchy’ / ‘salesy’ reach out.
2. Connect, connect, connect.
You can easily land your first client by developing a relationship between you and the people you reach out to/network with. Don’t be afraid to engage with people on a personal level, rather than solely business. Also, feel free to use connections you’ve made to develop even more! For example, if you’ve been collaborating with someone, don’t be afraid to name drop (with permission, of course!) to another company or business. This is an easy way to transfer one relationship to another and build trust between this new potential client and yourself.
Remember: the more you connect, share your personality in conjunction with your business, and show that you’re invested in these potential clients, the easier it will be to land your first one.
3. Don’t be afraid to cold pitch.
I mentioned this quickly in the social media section, but here’s what you need to know about cold-pitching: it’s awkward, but effective.
Cold pitching is essentially reaching out to someone you haven’t previously talked to in order to teach/inform them about your products and services. You need to tread carefully with this one! Make sure that when you send a message you’re doing a few things:
a) Showing a genuine interest in the person you’re reaching out to and engaging in their content. (Complimenting, discussing something they’ve done/created etc. is effective, here!)
b) Not too ‘salesy’ in your approach. (Meaning you’re doing more informing rather than straight selling or advertising.)
c) Not bugging. (If they don’t show interest, pursue a bit further, but don’t keep messaging if they’re not responding, etc. This will turn them off, rather than engage.)
Though cold pitching might be stressful (and a bit weird at first) don’t be afraid to try. This can be a useful option for landing your first client.
4. Develop trust.
When you build your client base you’re simultaneously building relationships. You want the people you work with to not only trust you, but to feel comfortable collaborating with you and sharing their opinions. You want them to be able to voice if something isn’t working right, or if they want a change—that’s what builds an effective, strong business!
As you reach out to potentials, make sure you’re being trustworthy. Follow up in a timely manner. Listen to what they’re saying. Be consistent. Show you’re someone they can trust so that when the time comes, they’ll be willing to trust you with their business.
5. Don’t oversell.
Less is more. Don’t be too ‘salesy’, dropping prices and payment plans in every conversation. Sometimes there’s value in just posting about you/your message, rather than encouraging people to sign up, join, or make a purchase.
Here’s an example from my side business, Monat that I shared on Instagram. Rather than encouraging people to sign up for Monat or to even sample products, I just wrote about my experience. This is subtle marketing strategy that brings awareness to the brand without being too aggressive in the approach.
6. Create healthy distance.
You want clients that are interested because they want to be—not because you’re driving them crazy about it. Reach out, inform, and then give some space. Follow up in a reasonable amount of time to see their thoughts. Don’t push, don’t demand.
7. Be passionate but patient.
There’s a big difference between passionate and aggressive. Make sure when you reach out to potential clients you’re excited about what you’re doing/selling (of course), but also make sure that your passion doesn’t translate to aggression.
You can’t force someone to buy into what you’re offering, no matter how good it is. Sometimes what’s more effective than pushing someone is to simply show how excited you are about it—that will naturally engage and encourage them.
With that, be patient. Some of my clients came after months and months had passed between our last interaction. Be sensitive to the fact that people may be busy, may not have the proper funds, or may not be interested at a given time. That doesn’t mean they’re off the list, but you don’t have to—and shouldn’t—rush them.
8. Adapt as you move forward.
As you build your client base, learn from your mistakes. Did you reach out in a certain way that turned someone off? Make sure you take notes and adapt your strategy moving forward. You’re not going to be perfect—and that’s okay—but do your best to learn as you grow.
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