How you start looking for business on Day One will depend very much on your background and what contacts, if any, you already have who may be potential clients. Remember that possible client could be people that you meet in a social capacity as well as a business one. Never be afraid to drop your services into the conversation at an appropriate moment, whatever the circumstance. Generally, as a freelancer, people are always more sympathetic to your ‘pitch’ than they would be if you were mentioning a company you were employed by. People love entrepreneurs.
Think about anyone you have ever worked with in the past, or met through someone else, who may be a possible client. Track these people down via phone or the Internet and get in touch. Start with an email explaining that you have set up as a freelancer and ask them to bear you in mind if they have a requirement. Or pick up the phone if you’re brave enough! Not all people like to be called out of the blue, so an email can often be a softer approach, but sometimes a call really does do the trick. It depends on your past relationship with that person and which you think will be most effective.
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- Five tips when writing your CV – why it is important to keep it up-to-date.
To get your first job onboard there is also the option of contacting someone you know well and offering them a free or heavily discounted service – in return for allowing you to mention them as a client, use them to write a case study about what you did or show examples of the work you produce for them when pitching for other new business. Prospective clients will always feel more comfortable about using you if you do not appear to be your first one!
From here on in it’s about Networking with a capital N. The more people who know that you are out there, the more chance you have of generating business. Investigate local networking groups, breakfast clubs and the like, or industry-specific events if you are aiming your services at one particular market sector. A trade event is a perfect opportunity, where many prospective clients are all gathered in one place on their exhibition stands with nowhere to escape to when you approach them, business card in hand.
Another great way to generate business is through your suppliers. That might sound odd but it isn’t. Build up your network of suppliers from existing contacts and new research, they will all be very happy to talk to you as you are, in effect, a route to market for them. If you develop a good working relationship you will become a virtual part of their sales team, bringing in new business with no cost of sale for them. But the flip-side of this is that they will also uncover business opportunities for you.
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