Selling Yourself: Finding customers
Today I want to focus on how you can find customers for your respective niches. (Hopefully after perfecting your story from the first post in this series you know what your niche is!) After talking with several freelancers and professionals in the industry, by far the best way to find new customers is for your old customers to refer you. But how might you find that first perfect customer to help the chicken-and-egg dilemma?
Jacques Mattheij, a technical due diligence consultant, wrote an excellent series of articles on how to start your own consulting business. In it, he declares that there are six ways to attract new customers:
1. Let people know
3. Cold contact
4. Build a reputation
5. Referral fees
6. Work the network
Mattheij notes that he has a standing 12% referral fee. Geri Migielicz, Executive Editor of Story4, says that many of her new clients come “oddly enough” by referral.
The lesson here? Start doing great work so you can be referred by others to do more great work!
This can be done in a variety of ways. For example, if you are interested in doing philanthropic work, I would suggest doing a pro-bono project for a non-profit that interests you (and only if you are financially stable to do so). I decided to produce a pro-bono promotional video for the non-profit organization Shoulder to Shoulder that I learned about while doing work for the Pulitzer Organization two years ago. Since then I have helped them with their website, email marketing campaigns, and social media efforts. In exchange, they have given me glowing recommendations for future work.
Don’t have an organization in mind to help? Easy! Go to Sparked.com and search for relevant projects depending on your interest, as they always have a need that you can fill!
If you are interested in advertising/marketing projects, I would suggest looking at prior projects that inspire you and looking at the credits to see if there is a contact for a person within the hiring organization that you can reach out to for future project consideration.
Also, utilize your network (like we talked about in the prior networking post) to see how your professional networking cicles overlap with one another. You never know who you are “connected” with until you spend some time on LinkedIn!
Next week we will talk about improving your negotiation skills, to both obtain the jobs you want and at the prices you expect.