Back when I started LinkedIn wasn't as huge as it is now. I wish it was. I didn't have a large network and those networking sessions NEVER brought me any clients. I used to go to all sorts of them hoping to get clients. There were a couple of nibbles here and there, but never anything serious. The only thing that helped was reaching out DIRECTLY to people in my target market. That meant cold calls and cold emails. I'd sell myself while thinking about their needs. Once I got a few bites I'd build good rapport by keeping in touch, asking questions, repeating back what they were saying so that they knew I was on the same page and kept my promises. If I said I'd call them back next Tuesday at 2:15 I'd do so. Eventually I built trust with them without having a network, or an insane amount of experience.
Oh and the most important thing about consulting is to LISTEN. When those first clients notice that you're truly listening and you're not selling the cookie cutter solutions everyone else is trying to sell them that's when you got them hooked. You start to understand their problems, fears, and see through their eyes and not just yours.
A network will help, but in the beginning just good 'ol salesmanship will get the ball rolling.
Simple Answer: And this one is really simple. I have used literally dozens of times with great success.
Answer the help wanted ads in Monster and Indeed for all the jobs in your expertise. When you get an interview, show them how you could help them, but let them know that you would be more interested in doing this as a consultant for the company rather than an employee. Explain that they will get better results without having to provide benefits and even though you charge 5 - 10 more you are worth it.
I hope this helps.
Best of Luck,
PS I may assist you as my time permits. Right now I am doing something that I haven't done for many years. I am actively soliciting new select clients due to selling one of my businesses and freeing myself up a little. But as you might expect, I am still very busy. That is how I like it.
Usually, personal contacts. Those are the ones most likely to gamble on an unknown, which you are for your first customers.
If that won't work, then working with some kind of recruiting firm, doing a lot of legwork yourself with postings and/or networking opportunities are next up.
[5+ years experience in business development and sales strategy]
The best way to get your first client is, hands down, your own network. Assuming you're launching a consultancy in a domain of your expertise, exploit whatever contacts you already have from a previous endeavour / job.
As for finding your 2nd, 3rd... and 100th client, look into tools used by other consultancies. Depending on the field you're in and who you're selling to (unclear from your post) LinkedIn can be a great tool to identify potential clients and to find out where you can provide the most value.
When it comes down to how to approach clients and maximise the impact of your value proposition, you might find the books by Neil Rackham a valuable read (I would recommend "Major account sales strategy").
Feel free to schedule a call if you want to go more in-depth.
Just wrote a post on this! Ideas: http://alexisgrant.com/2013/10/22/find-new-clients/
These all rely on building a NETWORK. As someone else mentioned in this thread, that's the most important part.
Strategic alliances. When I first started my business, I connected with a business/personal development coach as well as PR firms. The business coach had clients who needed my social media marketing services at the time. And the PR firms had tons of clients coming to them for press and inquiring about social media. It was a value add for them to refer me to their clients. Depending upon the kind of consulting business you have, could you connect with accountants, lawyers and other professionals servicing them? That would be my reccommendaiton.
All the answers make an assumption not in evidence. Before you even think about starting a consulting business you must be laser focused on what business problems you solve and then have a crystal clear methodology to solve the problems. People want to buy from someone who knows their business but who also has a vision for how to solve the problem.
Why don't you post your value proposition and why people should engage you?
Well..I can tell you how we at Sudden Impact Web Design do it. We're a husband and wife, family-owned and operated digital marketing agency. We don't have a fortune to put into huge marketing efforts. But we do, however, have me (blush, blush), and I used to be a reporter and freelancer and learned to hustle at a young age.
One of the things we did when we first started was go online and print up a huge stack of postcards, coupons, business cards, and drive around to local area industrial parks, office parks, neighborhoods with shops in them; and simply go door to door introducing ourselves and giving out cards. No hard-sell or pressure, just casual, polite introductions and a card. Did most of the cards end up in the trash? Probably. But the cards that received calls back (to us) got the best service and best returns on investment they ever dreamt of. Those efforts got us referrals upon referrals. And when that well runs dry every once in a while, we can simply "wash and repeat."
Now, yes, a professional online presence that employs smart SEO, Google Analytics, Google Adwords, Facebook ads, regular blogging, active social media...all of that will get you more leads and referrals as well but nothing beats returns on time like physically going out and kissing babies and shaking hands, except giving presentations before large professional organizations.
Hope that helps. If you'd like more, just give me a ring. Good luck.
Hi - I just came across this and noticed you wrote this years ago, so I really hope your business is going well!! If you need inexpensive yet expert marketing, design or small business consulting services, please consider my agency, Bloominari. We’ve been helping small business owners like yourself for years and we’d love to help you out. I also provide free project estimates! Just wanted to send you this info in case your sales aren’t exactly as high as you were hoping. Let me know if I can help you in any way and best of luck to you! http://www.bloominari.com/contact/request-project-quote
Consulting is a business that required domain expertise of the consultant. People will only consult you if you are more experienced and better in a particular interest or a subject area in comparison to the free options available.
You can start consulting the people you know for a 'pay if you like' model. In this model there shall be a box to drop the money that doesn't show how much money is dropped in the box. If people are satisfied with your consultancy, then they will drop in some money in the box. If you receive more money per person then you are going good, else keep on learning and always ask for the feedback without asking them to name themselves. This anonymous system will help you in understanding your worth, quality and will also help you making the process better day by day.
You may setup a call with me if you wish to learn in detail.
Thanks for reading.
Prove you're an expert.
Write a blog, post videos, publish a book, build some software, write a detailed report, interview other experts.
There are two challenges to getting customers:
1) Getting noticed and
2) Convincing people you can deliver
Doing the above is a good step to do both.
It is about whether one has a talent for this job. One has first to try unpaid activities, to your family and close circle of friends. If it works, try to enlarge your ground, until gets to paid activities.
If no talent for that, better go for engineering or management activities.
all the best
Getting your first clients in any business always seems to be a challenge. This question comes up time and time again with the startups I work with. Depending on the type of consulting business you friend is starting, they may be able to look at their own internal network, including friends and family. If they are working in a niche sector, I would suggest they approach any regulating bodies, chambers and forums that have an audience of the right type of client.
Getting your first few clients can take time and it can be frustrating. If you or your friend would like to book a call with to ask any question or talk about a strategy, feel free to. I'd love to hear more about this new venture.
A lot of people skip the very first step of FINDING people when they answer this question. Before you can offer free consultations, or ask for referrals, you need to find the right people, who have the right problem.
For this, you generally have to start with some manual marketing... search online (reddit, forums, blogs, etc) for questions that people may ask, pertaining to your consulting business' niche. From there, you insert yourself within the space, answer questions, offer solutions, offer your services, and in many cases, even directly reach out to online users that you think would benefit from your service.
Another way, if you have money to invest, is to pay for advertising. This can be as little as 1 dollar on a Facebook and/or Instagram ad, or as much millions of dollars for a tv advertisement.
There are many many many platforms out there for you to advertise on at varying prices. For a consulting business, cheap Facebook ads targeting businesses, locations, interests and behaviours of customers in your niche is a great way to go. You should have a Facebook & Instagram page for your business, so you can use FB's Lead Generation campaign oriented advertisements in the FB Business Manager to have interested impressions (people that are interested in your service after seeing your ad) input their information into a form, so that you can proactively follow up with email, by phone, etc.
In conclusion, manual marketing, and sensible advertising at a budget you can afford. It sounds simple, but there are many different ways you can do this for different industries and niches.