While many people are competing in the job market, another approach is to offer your talents as a consultant.
You can find all kinds of specializations and target an audience that needs your services. Companies are increasingly looking to hire experts on a per project basis rather than hiring someone full time.
When you hire yourself out as a freelancer, you can set your rates, choose your clients, and, in many cases, work from home (though some projects might require face-to-face meetings).
However, consultants do face one significant challenge, especially when they’re just starting: finding clients. You need to be creative and persistent as you build up your reputation.
How To Get More Consulting Clients
Here are some of the best ways to get more clients as a consultant.
1. Create a Targeted Client Profile
New consultants often make the mistake of targeting potential clients too broadly. It’s crucial to identify your ideal client and seek the best ways to reach him or her.
Look at industries, the size of the business, region, style of their marketing, and any other relevant factors you can identify. Over time, your client profile will most likely evolve as you learn which people and companies are most suited for your services.
2. Make Your Website a Lead Generating Tool
Your website is one of your most powerful tools as a consultant. As such, you should make sure you make the most of it.
Aside from professional design and user-friendly navigation, you need a lead-generating process. Always have a call-to-action on every page which might be something like “For a free consultation, call us” or “Sign up for my newsletter.”
If you’re offering a lead-generating product such as a white paper, you’ll want to make this offer visible. Another essential feature your website needs is a responsive design that makes the content quickly accessible on all devices, including mobile.
3. Organize a Live Event or Webinar
Holding an event, whether live or digital, is an effective way to position yourself as an expert in your industry. It’s important to choose an appealing and relevant (to your clients) theme for your event. You can’t make your presentation a long infomercial for your services.
Rather, offer some real information that helps your potential customers. You can organize live events through MeetUp or by networking with a local business association. Webinars are now fairly simple to set up and record as well. You can even start by using Google Hangouts for free.
Successful consultants know how to take advantage of the fact that most people are either lazy or pressed for time. When you tell people how to do something, many will automatically start thinking that it would be easier merely to hire someone.
For example, if your specialty is local SEO, you can offer some great tips for businesses on how to rank in the search engines. Don’t worry that you’re giving away information. Many of your potential clients lack the time or interest to perform complicated tasks themselves.
4. Create a Valuable Product
Creating an authoritative book, white paper, or video helps lets you show off your expertise. As with holding a live event, many potential clients will be impressed with your knowledge and prefer to let you do the heavy lifting. The only caveat is that you need to offer something unique. No matter what your industry, you have plenty of competition.
You may not be able to come up with entirely new strategies for every problem. What you can do is put a distinctive twist on your solutions. If possible, give concrete examples.
If you don’t have much experience, then find a case study used by a major brand. For instance, if you want to show the effectiveness of influencer marketing in social media, provide an example of a company that ran a successful campaign using an influencer.
One way to make your product even more impressive is to interview an acknowledged expert such as an author, business owner, or influencer. Partnering with someone is mutually beneficial as both of your names get promoted.
5. Leverage LinkedIn
Almost everyone in the business world has a LinkedIn profile, but few make full use of this fast-growing social media site. LinkedIn has over 350 million members, many of whom are business owners.
Members don’t log in to look at cat videos but to find jobs, clients, and relevant services. Here are some tips to help you get more out of LinkedIn.
- Get a Premium account – There are several Premium options, but Business is the most relevant for consultants. When you upgrade to a Business membership, you can send up to 15 InMail messages per month, including to people with whom you have not connected. You also get unlimited member browsing and Business Insights, which lets you perform valuable resource on companies to help you find the best ones to target.
- Join LinkedIn Groups – Joining or even starting a group lets you connect with people in your industry or who need the type of services you provide. It’s important to contribute regularly to groups in a friendly and helpful way. Never directly solicit your services as this comes across as spammy.
- Post content – LinkedIn’s timeline is now more user-friendly than it used to be. Share links and updates to keep your name in followers’ minds. You can also publish long-form articles, which have the potential to get indexed by Google.
6. Join a Co-working Space
Co-working spaces have sprung up in cities all over the world. One of the challenges you face as a freelancer or consultant is meeting people in the real world. Co-working spaces are meeting grounds where diverse business owners, consultants, programmers, and various creative types share space.
Co-working businesses usually offer several plans based on how many hours you want to spend there. If you don’t have many clients at this point, you could sign up for a minimal plan.
Showing up, if only for a few hours per week, gives you the chance to connect with potential clients. Even (or perhaps especially) in the digital age, you can gain a considerable advantage by meeting someone in person rather than relying on email or messaging.
7. Start a Podcast
Podcasting is a fast-growing medium that lets you reach a specialized audience in any niche. You don’t need much more than a mic and a subscription to a podcast hosting service to get started.
One of the best formats for podcasts is interviewing experts in your field. You can begin and end each program by casually mentioning that you’re a consultant.
As with many methods of attracting clients, you may not get a ton of business right away. However, you can use your program as a way to build authority and get your name widely circulated.
These guidelines will help you start getting clients for your consulting business. It takes time to get off the ground so don’t expect to land huge clients right away. If necessary, keep your current job while you get started.
As you build momentum, however, your business will begin to take off as you can ask existing clients for references, making it easier to get new ones. You only need to prime the pump to get the process going.