Snag Your First Paying Client
as an Independent Consultant – Part 2
Remember the steps in the Client Journey. Everything begins with spreading awareness of your product and uncovering the people who have a problem that your product can address.
First Clients Strategy #1
Get Client Referrals from Your Network
When you get started, recommendations are powerful credibility boosts. Word-of-mouth is a highly trusted source of information and allows you to borrow the recommender’s reputation, instead of working to prove yourself from scratch. Leverage your relationships to identify people who want to work with you.
1. Create a simple, concise pitch
Awareness is the first step toward the outcome you want. The people in your support network can only help you when they know what you are doing and what you want from them.
- What is the main problem you are solving?
- Who is your target audience/customer?
- What is your special approach? What is the benefit of working specifically with you?
2. Identify your available support network
Make an actual list of the people so you can track your progress with contacting each person, their response, and your follow-up. Some people can be contacted with a mass message or presentation, such as members of a club, association, or religious group. Others are best reached directly, such as friends, mentors, or past clients.
Tracking also helps you see how vast your network is, which will boost your confidence in the outcome.
- Family (immediate and extended)
- Friends (close and distant)
- Past classmates or instructors
- Past coworkers or supervisors
- Past clients or employers
- Mentors or mentees
- Social media connections or followers (personal and professional)
- Club or association members
- Religious or cultural group members
3. Create a referral strategy
No need to write a book. Even a simple outline or bulleted list will keep you organized and focused.
Define your goals for this referral campaign. Describe the benefits you expect from asking for referrals. Identify the steps to achieve those goals. What is the action you want people to take to share referrals with you? Which actions support your goals? What will your ask be?
Decide how you plan to contact people. Consider the types of relationships involved. Is it best for some groups to receive a phone call, text, email, direct message, in-person meeting, or live presentation? Create a basic roadmap or schedule and map out deadlines to guide your work.
4. Tailor the referral ask to each relationship type
Make the ask sound personal, but not necessarily unique. The closer the relationship, the more informal the ask. If the relationship is distant (ie. association members), make the ask more formal.
- Tell them what you are doing
- Share why you want their help
- Specify the action you want them to take
- Thank them for considering your ask
5. Deploy the referral campaign
Start contacting people, even before you complete the list. You many have dozens or even hundreds of people you can contact and it is not possible to contact all of them in the same week.
Create a simple roadmap or calendar to visualize how you will spread out the contact groups. Keep in mind that some people will respond quickly, so you will spend time engaging them.
- Part 1 – Targeted Client Journey
- Part 2 – First Clients Strategy #1: Get Client Referrals from Your Network
- Part 3 – First Clients Strategy #2: Get Work or Testimonials from Past Employers and Coworkers
- Part 4 – First Clients Strategy #3: Get Leads from Fresh Outreach
- Part 5 – First Clients Strategy #4: Engage Leads with Meaningful Content