Sure, you have to go to meet & greets, network, and shake a lot of hands, but what are some other ways to get more clients? Whether you work for a firm, inside a company, or own your company, everyone at some point in their careers is charged with developing new business. Here are 6 ways for consideration.
1. Define your ideal client. The first step to winning new clients is to know who you want those new clients to be. Huh, you might say. I want whoever wants me and/or my company’s services, don’t I?
Not necessarily, and you may not really be aware who the “ideal” client is all about. First, ask your manager for guidance, then take a look at your firm’s existing client base to see what industries the clients are coming from, what kinds of services you offer that might be a good fit for prospects, and which services yield a higher hourly fee realization. Knowing who your ideal client is helps determine how to explain your services, value proposition, and service offerings.
2. Hang out where your clients hang out. Whether it’s live or online, the best place to find a new client is to live where they live: online in LinkedIn or a Facebook group, a local networking event, or even through your volunteer efforts on a board or committee. You need to be where they are, and if you don’t know, ask them. While chatting over the fresh fruit at the grocery store cannot be ruled out as a viable way to meet prospects, a good rule of thumb for networking is to consider any opportunity an opportunity to schmooze. You’ll be surprised at the results. Make sure to always carry business cards with you.
3. Have an online social media strategy. Randomly seeing what others are doing or posting is not going to win new clients, but having an online social media strategy might. The key to social networking is to participate frequently and comment when appropriate—but don’t be self-serving. Provide expertise because you have it and know that eventually you will be rewarded with referrals and contacts. If you are only offering a sales job with each post, you will turn off potential clients and tarnish your brand.
Keep your LinkedIn page updated with information, experience, and status reports. Seek other social media to work in, such as Pinterest and even YouTube. Remember, while you want to have a social media strategy, there are no limits as to what you can do online as long as you’re respectful of others and treat everyone the way you would want to be treated.
4. Ask your clients for referrals. This is one of the most overlooked ways to build business! Current clients lead to future clients. Recommendations, whether through social media or a direct referral, are the fastest way to get your foot in the door. People trust people they know. You can also think about people you know from outside your firm or business world, such as relatives, neighbors, and friends, and ask them, too, for help. However, keep in mind that, similar to social media, this is a two-way street. You can’t ask for something and not give in return. Chances are your clients want to build their businesses as well, so take them to lunch or coffee and have a non-accounting conversation about business and how you can help each other. It really works!
5. Align with other businesses that serve your ideal client. Members of other professional service industries, such as law and technology, make great referral sources. Attend their meetings and develop key relationships. The key to exchanging referrals with these groups is to be very specific about the kind of client you seek (remember #1 above?). If all you say is, “I’m looking for any new client,” then that does not give the other party very much information as a trigger to provide a lead.
6. Pay attention to the details. Give some thought to what kinds of actions you can take that are above and beyond the norm—the ones that really make you stand out from the competition, if you will. This starts with initiating great communications by staying in touch and on your referral’s radar at all times. Send thank you notes to prospects you’ve met. Pay attention to local business trends and update your online status with a business-related comment. These are just a few examples; visit with your colleagues for more ideas.
It takes time and energy to grow your business, but the more time, talent, and resources you invest in, the more you will reap the rewards of getting more clients. There is no limit to marketing and finding new business.
Many business alliances have been forged in the most unlikely circumstances. The Young Member Network would love to hear about your experiences!