Now that you've made a great HQ (if you haven't, check out this guide), let's use it to grow your freelance business and close clients!
What's included in this post:
- Refine your niche to set you apart
- Find clients through both your network and cold outreach
- Be a great listener on your intro call
- Work through imposter thoughts to close that next clientUse your intro call a great call that leads
To get started, we need to stand out amongst the crowd.
Refine your niche to be in the top 1%
Committing to a focused and narrow niche can be counterintuitive for many, but is one of the most important aspects to being successful as a freelancer.
There are millions out there with different skills and experiences. For you to be successful as a freelance consultant, we need to find a unique area that you add value that's differentiated from others.
This also helps you present yourself confidently, which is a huge part of winning that project. You know you're good in a certain area, all we're doing is nailing that down and making it specific and tangible.
Think about this from across the table and put yourself in the decision maker's shoes: a company is going to bring you on as a consultant to solve a specific problem they have. In deciding to hire you, they need to think you're the best person for them. If this isn't clear in the mind of the decision maker, you will blend into the sea of offers and undifferentiated talent that is never really considered. This means you need to be narrow and specific in your offering so you can be in the top 1-3% of what you do.
Your HQ essentially forces you to do this in your hero section through your header and sub-header. Spend some time with this. Ask friends for feedback. Make it clear, tangible, and precise to help you stand out. Further, keep it concise - nobody wants to read a paragraph about what you do - we've limited the characters for a reason!
Find your next client
Legit companies want to hire legit talent. They want polished, accomplished individuals who can come into their company and immediately add value. Thus, how you present yourself both live and online can carry a lot of weight. This is the reason we've made the HQ: so you can have a professionally designed online presence without tons of time or money to setup or maintain.
Before you send any traffic to your HQ you'll want to make sure it’s ready for primetime. We’ve detailed how to make a great HQ in this guide with screenshots, recommendations, and examples. Your HQ is your first impression with a potential client - make it count!
Spending an hour polishing your HQ, adding testimonials and case studies is a worthwhile investment in your consulting business. We know because we've helped thousands of entrepreneurs and freelancers work part-time making a full-time salary and not worry about having to go back to that full-time job.
Now that you've honed your niche and polished up your HQ, it's time to get in front of potential clients.
Get on calls with potential clients
Finding a client is about finding a company with a need that matches your area of specific niche, where they trust you can do a great job.
The best way to do this is to have calls with potential clients where you're able to showcase your experience and learn more about their challenges. These calls generally come from 3 places:
- Your network
- Cold outreach
- Marketplace platforms
We don't love marketplace platforms: they take a huge cut of the deal, their matching leaves a lot to be desired, and they're often a waste of time, with way more consultants than real projects. So, we're going to focus on your network and cold outreach.
People you've worked with and know what you're capable of doing is the fastest and easiest way to close your next client. They know you and your work, and most importantly, they trust you. Use this extension of trust to your advantage.
Think of all the people in your professional network: past jobs, friends from college, that random conference you went to, etc. and make a quick list of their names. Then, do some research. Learn what they’re up to and reference that when you reach out - a personalized note goes so much further than a boilerplate outreach. Tell them what you're up to, and ask for a quick call to catch up. The more personalized you can make your message, the better.
Give your network a reason to reach out to you
Update your LinkedIn with your accomplishments and what you're offering as a consultant. Make your tagline about the clear value you add and outcomes you achieve. Link your HQ in your LinkedIn links so interested clients have an easy way to dig further into your experience and contact you.
Once your LinkedIn is up to date, post some thoughts maybe once a week on your area of expertise in a Linkedin post. Do this a few times and you might be shocked at how many views you get. It only takes a second for someone to resonate with the thought you shared. Some of these views turn into messages, and some turn into potential clients. Besides 30 minutes of your time, what do you have to lose?
As you think about your niche and your target client profile, look for companies that match that description. If you're targeting venture backed companies, look for those that have recently (last 6-9 months) fundraised. They have cash, they have aggressive goals they need to hit with that cash, and they have problems that stand in their way. You can solve those problems.
As an example, our founder Bradley Jacobs, looked for food delivery, freight / logistics companies, and ridesharing start-ups given his experiences across Uber Eats, Uber Freight, and the Uber Rides business.
For you, send out some friendly notes on Linkedin, or via email if you can find their email. Mylance customers have also had success reaching out via a company’s website or getting in touch with a recruiter. Generally, Linkedin is the best avenue.
Make sure you personalize your note as much as possible. As you know, people get hit up on Linkedin all the time. Stand out by doing your research, and say something to person can relate to.
Here is a sample outreach from Bradley. He did his research, connected with her based on his hometown, and wrote a quick "validation" sentence
As a helpful tip, you can send a note along with a connection invite so you don’t need to pay for Inmails.
Follow-up with your leads quickly
As you get messages from your HQ or LinkedIn, follow-up with your leads same-day. Respond quickly and set-up a call to further discuss their needs. We recommend using a service like Calendly which makes booking a call easy and seamless, avoiding the “when are you free?” back and forth via email.
Navigating your intro calls
The goal of your outbound is to build or further your rapport, and learn about their business.
The goal of your outbound is to build or further your rapport, and learn about their business. Learning about their business gives you an idea if there's a match for a consulting project. If you find such an opportunity, you will use the information you learn in your proposal. So pay attention! Ideally these are video calls or in-person meetings if you’re in the same city to increase the chances of a connection.
Approach your intro calls with smart questions and curiosity
Once you get on the phone, you have two objectives:
- Validate yourself
- Deeply understand their business challenges
Have a verbal intro that’s concise and to the point with who you are and what value you offer. This should be 60 seconds or less, so cut to the chase describing what you’ve done in your past and what value you’re capable of providing. If it’s someone you’ve worked with in the past, this is less important. If it’s a new contact, it’s crucial to start with a good first impression and get them hooked for why they should continue to chat with you.
As you go through the call, ask questions about their business and their challenges to understand what’s going on and if there’s an area for you to add value.
While many people think having answers is the quickest way to validate yourself, you can actually also validate yourself by asking smart questions in the area of your expertise.
Ask questions about areas of their business that you know well. This further validates you, and at some point they might turn it around on you and ask your opinion. Use this opportunity to share some knowledge or lean on a past experience.
Deeply understand their business challenges
If this call goes well, you’re going to follow-up with a proposal for how you could work with the client. To do this effectively, you’ll want to know their business problems inside and out so you can showcase how you’re going to deliver solutions for them.
Ask curious questions and take detailed notes, including specific words and phrases that they use internally. The more you can use their own words in your proposal, the more likely they are to see that you “get it” and are someone they want to hire.
Be genuinely curious, and try to learn as much as you can. There may be an opportunity to work together. If not, that's completely okay, it's far better to stick to your niche and focus on the right type of engagements so you don't regret taking on the project. Make the most of the situation and ask if they know anyone in their network that might have a need for your expertise. When done correctly, these calls have good potential to lead to clients or warm introductions to good leads.
Have a proposal template ready to go
After your intro call (or two if needed for more information), you can follow-up with a proposal for how to work together. Generally the format doesn’t matter as much as the contents of the proposal so long as it looks professional.
Mylance provides two free proposal templates that you can use as a starting point to build from (Word Doc Template and Slide Deck Template).
As you can see from the Word Doc Template, we break out our proposals into 4 sections:
- About you (remind them who you are and why your experience is impressive)
- Summarizing the company’s challenges or goals (to show you fully understand their situation)
- Outline the deliverables and impact for your project (what are you going to do for them?)
- Cover logistics of the project including compensation (you can leave out pricing if you haven’t previously discussed budgets, and discuss on your next call)
Working Through Imposter Thoughts
Working for yourself is incredibly powerful, but also can come with fear and worries. One of the common fears is a fear of rejection.
To win consulting projects or retainers, it’s very likely you’re going to be ignored or told “no” regularly. Both this fear and the reality of not winning every project is completely normal and to be expected.
The quicker you can accept this reality, the better off you’ll be. At Mylance, we recommend writing out the worst case scenario. What could happen if you try to get a new client? Maybe they ignore you. Maybe you get told "no" or that your rate is crazy high.
We’ve seen it all. You can decide for yourself if you can handle that rejection. We know you can. But you have to know you can.
Further more, if you do the work to clarify your niche and your ideal client, you'll be a lot more confident when you go to those companies. You'll be able to confidently say "this is what I know, this is my experience, and this is how I can help you."
The Importance of Networking
Your HQ helps you showcase your niche and validate your experiences to help legitimize you in front of potential clients. Not every company is going to be a fit for your experience, thus you’re going to get told “no” or left with no response many times over. This is all part of going out on your own and working for yourself. The more times you put yourself out there, the more likely you are to eventually find success, close a client, and make money on your own time.
Millions have done it before you, and there’s no reason you can’t do it if you’re reading this. We’re giving you the tools to set you up for success, but at the end of the day, you need to take action, put yourself out there, and get in front of clients.
Network, meet new people, ask for referrals and introductions, and keep playing the game. It’s a numbers game, and with enough effort, you’ll eventually see success.
If you haven't already and want a professionally designed webpage for your consulting business, sign-up for an HQ.