Two steps to connecting with your next client
Worn out with attracting clients?
My first attempt at starting my own business was writing and selling children’s picture books for school counselors. I started it about nine years ago when I had not a clue about how to write a book or publish it, never mind how to promote or sell it. In fact the biggest challenge was changing my mindset about selling. I had always thought of myself as someone who couldn’t sell anything and the thought of pushing my personal product and generating interest felt selfish and aggressive. I was definitely outside of my comfort zone and entering new territory. Fast forward to today when I regularly attend conferences and connect with counselors, administrators and educators who not only purchase all eight of my books but schedule me to conduct training at schools.
Today, I often coach solo-preneurs on starting a side business much like I did several years ago. Before each coaching session, clients complete a clarity tool to help them get focused on what they would like to work on during our time together. Guess what is one of the most frequent topics? Need to get clients!!! (Note the number of exclamation marks!)
This can feel like a never ending struggle for new business owners in start-up. I know, I’ve been there. So what is the answer?
There’s actually two steps to connecting with the ideal clients that you serve:
#1–Change Your Mindset
As long as you are thinking about connecting with clients as “finding clients” or “getting clients” or even the more popular, “attracting clients” you are going to be stressed out. You are creating a scenario that involves you somehow pushing or pulling people toward you. And you know what people do when you try control them? Resist your efforts. Question your ulterior motives. Remain skeptical of your service.
Here’s a better model–Always be serving. Ask people, “How can I help?” and then follow up and follow through. Provide value first and then let people know how they can continue to engage with you through your business. Develop first a relationship and then a client.
#2–Make networking personal and continuous
One of the biggest problems new business owners have is they hide behind their computer. They create blogs, ezines and email campaigns galore but they don’t utilize the everyday connections that they have already in place and they certainly don’t spend enough time pursuing new ones. There are potential clients everywhere but I bet you don’t see them because you aren’t looking through the right lens.
Here are a few ideas:
Referrals from current clients are one of your best sources. Make it easy for them to refer and to renew with you. Let them be the first to know when you have new openings or new programs. Encourage them to share it with friends who could use your services. Help them know who to refer by sharing key characteristics of your ideal clients.
Clients who used you in the past and who were thrilled with your service make great referrals. Be sure to get testimonials and stay in touch with them on a regular basis by continuing to provide information and service.
Friends and people in social groups that you belong to
How often do you let friends and acquaintances know that you are open for business? Afraid you will offend by mixing business with friendship? Refer back to changing your mindset… you are helping people and who deserves your help more than your friends? Don’t overlook people you volunteer with or workout with at the gym.
Most of my clients are still working a day job while they grow their business. If your business is not in conflict with your job, consider letting your co-workers know about your side business. For instance, if you work for a CPA by day but are a fitness coach by night… some of your best clients are your co-workers who’ve been coped up in a cubicle all day.
The number of networking groups and meet-ups is over-whelming. Be strategic and intentional about the ones you visit and join. Research them first to make sure they are relevant to your business. Visit them to determine the culture and unique vibe of the group…then when you join—get involved. Go on a regular basis so people get to know you. Do more than just accumulate a handful of business cards. Join committees. Volunteer to help with meetings and events. Follow-up with anyone you meet. Share your business and ask people to sign up for a free coaching call or other offer.
Professional groups or associations that you or your clients belong to
Join and stay active in groups where you will find your ideal clients. For instance, as a retired school counselor, I stay actively involved with forums and conferences that national and local school counselors attend. They are ideal clients for both my children’s book series and my coaching. Where do your ideal clients hang out? What meetings or events do they attend? Go there.
Your email marketing list or other forums such as LinkedIn
You do have an email list, right? When is the last time you presented your offers to your list or asked them if they’d like to take advantage of a free session with you? Make sure that you don’t just connect with them when you are “selling” though. Provide value through an ezine or some other method on a regular basis.
The people that have said “no” to you in the past 6 months.
Sometimes when people say no… they mean not right now. Sometimes they need to try things on their own first before they realize the help they need. So maintain a friendly helpful connection and inform them of new programs that you offer. Now might just be the right time…
GO FOR IT! Dream Achiever Coaching has helped me give voice to my long-term dreams and begin to take the necessary steps to finally make them a reality. Lynne is very encouraging, and helps me see things in ways I may not have otherwise seen. Working with Lynne has given me a new confidence that I CAN achieve my dreams! http://www.civilitynation.com/
Need help starting your side business? Want to take it to the next level? Let’s talk: