Relationships are key.
Today’s ideas for finding new clients begin with being kind and helpful, and fostering meaningful connections and relationships. [Here's Day 1 of the Series]
Allison Fallon likes to say, “People will tell you to ‘position yourself as an expert’ to be an author, but honestly, I’d rather position myself as a friend.”
Let that sink in as you seek your next awesome clients, no matter your business, and ponder these 9 tips.
My largest branding job came after I purchased an online course. The payment page-redirects and emails that were sent after the monetary transactions happened were goofed up. I kindly emailed the creator of the course, and helped her sort through the back end of the problem.
Three years later (you never know what a little help will turn into!) she approached me to become her graphic designer. It led to 8 months of gloriously awesome projects. At the time I wasn’t thinking, ‘If I help her now, I’ll get a client out of her later.’ Help to help, to know others better. Let people know you’re on their side and have their back.
Comment on blogs with a twist!
Interacting with other bloggers and commenters online is an excellent way to get your name out there and begin building relationships. Here’s an idea to take it a step further. In the ‘website’ box of the comment section try linking to a blog post of yours that relates to the topic at hand. Use this tip sparingly.
For example, if you come across a post on mindfulness in the workplace, leave a meaningful comment for the author and then link back to your post on “10 ways to be more mindful at work today!” instead of your homepage. If anyone happens to click over to your site from your comment — they’ll see your post on a topic they’re already interested in.
Answer questions on the interwebs.
I read a blog post about an entrepreneur who was taken advantage of by a web designer. Their work together went down in flames. In the comment section I empathized with the poster and shared helpful tips to have a better relationship with a future designer.
A year later a potential client contact me, out of the blue, because he saw my response to that post. He said he loved my work and perspective. It’s amazing what can happen when you intentionally leave a trail of helpful breadcrumbs online that lead people back to your work. The best part? I wasn’t in it to “find all the awesome customers”. My intention was to help and in turn customers came my way.
Collaborate for fun.
Nothing starts the friendship ball rolling like collaborating with people you admire. Know a photographer you’d love to work with? Ask if you can pair up to create a fun ebook. Following a singer’s work? Ask if they’d like to record a song for the opening credits of your movie.
Making connections through collaboration will introduce both of you to each other’s larger friend/customer/business base. More introductions = more great clients. A friend is easier to recommend than a stranger.
Host a free workshop.
What are you great at? Take your greatness, develop content, and host a free workshop online or in person. Generously share the knowledge you have and befriend those who attend. The level of connection that happens in workshop settings tends to be deeper than getting to know others over short tweets and Facebook posts.
These days I find that “free workshops” mean 30 minutes of content, a teaser about one more vital piece of information coming at the end of the workshop (stick it out to the end folks!), and 30 minutes of a hard sell of the presenter’s products: “OH MY GOSH, BUY MY STUFF!” Then a mediocre tip at the end. It feels yucky.
Here’s how to host a workshop well: A few years ago Jeff Goins co-hosted a workshop with Jonathan Mead. The session was jampacked with helpful, actionable tips and lasted for about 58 minutes (yours can be shorter if you’d like). In that first hour they offered immense value and shared so many success stories that I trusted them almost instantly. Heart centered people, genuine, kind, kindred entrepreneurs. In the last two minutes Jonathan very gently and casually mentioned his online class. I was sold because I wasn’t sold to. Bought the course on the spot. I’d also been following Jeff for about a year online at that point so I knew his character. Knew he was a good guy, and if he trusted Jonathan, I could too.
Build relationships and rapport.
Follow the people you’d like to work with online for a while. Interact with them multiple times. Leave fun comments. Ask meaningful questions. Tweet them out. Share their work online. Be genuinely interested in their life — not just as a potential client but as a whole person, and even a friend!
Yes, there are times when folks buy an item or service from you the first time they find you online. Other times potential clients need to become comfortable with you before they commit to working with you.
Hop on video calls to get to know people!
If you see someone creating great work and you want to get to know them — reach out to them. “I see you’re a furniture restorer. I’d love to get to know more about what you do!”
Ask if they’d be interested in hopping on a video Skype call or Google Hangout with you. Learn about them, get to know them. Ask about their background, what’s bringing joy to their life and work, ask what kind of clients you can send their way. This generosity and conversation might be the start of a meaningful friendship.
Follow up with folks.
If someone mentioned that a post or info was helpful, follow up with them in a few weeks to see if they implemented the information and how you can help again.
After a potential client contacts you for assistance with their photography, but hasn’t yet made the decision to hire you, follow up with them. Several times over the course of weeks or months. Be courteous and kind. If you haven’t heard back from them, perhaps it’s not because they don’t want to work with you. Maybe they’re busy and lost track of your email in the daily blur.
Keep in regular contact with your email list.
If you have an email list — use it as a key connection point. If people have signed up for your email list, it means they’re already interested in what you have to offer. Inviting folks to pass over from ‘email reader’ to ‘customer’ is easier when you’re regularly interacting with them.
Share what you’ve been up to, deliver the content you promised to give them, offer value and freebies. Have a footer in your email that mentions you’re booking clients.
Today’s ‘finding new clients’ challenge!
Pick one tip from the list above and put it to work in your business. Which one will you commit to work on today? Let me know in the comments below. And remember… it’s about relationships.
If you could use more encouraging ideas like these to grow your business, sign up below! I’ll also send you my Brand Decoder Toolkit for free.