You can leverage your knowledge into a lucrative and versatile profession as a consultant. As independent contractors, consultants get to determine their working hours and fees while incurring little operating costs. However, if you ask a new consultant their biggest concern, they will almost certainly say finding clients.
Getting consulting clients as a freelancer can feel like a monumental task. A satisfied clientele is key to your professional development and longevity as a freelancer.
Of course, giving your absolute best is the surefire strategy to win over your freelance clients, but where do you approach them?
You've probably read many articles on how to get consulting clients but don't receive any important information on how to approach and convince them to hire you. This advice will deliver concrete advice for attracting them, highlighted with real-world stories from leading members of our "Ask Me Anything" community.
1. How to Get Consulting Clients through Previous Employment?
Are you starting your new freelancing adventure? If so, you must have wondered how to get clients for consulting businesses. One of the best ways to get consulting clients is by spreading the word and getting in touch with past employers.
Many people in established professions get their start in freelancing by teaming up with former coworkers. If you've been in this field for some time, you probably had the opportunity to collaborate with various people. That's why avoiding drinking heavily and upsetting your employer on your final work day is a good idea.
Your first step should be to contact these former coworkers via phone, email, or social media to let them know that you've started freelancing and are seeking consulting clients.
Informing your former employer of your freelancing activities is a win-win situation for everyone involved. That is because they will probably get freelance work in your niche at some point, and being familiar with your type of work, they will certainly think of you.
So put out the word that you're freelancing, and clients will come knocking when the moment is right.
When networking for freelancer consultant gigs or anything else, giving more than you take is essential. In general, it's a good idea to help people out who ask for favors, provided that the request is acceptable. As a result, they will be more likely to hire you as a freelancer and will consider you first when looking for someone with your expertise.
Similarly, you shouldn't constantly seek favors when you're out networking. That can alienate potential clients and make your contacts less inclined to contact you about freelance opportunities in the future.
Example from our community AMA
Independent consultant Jordan Regenie assists new companies and established ones similar to zero in on their biggest problems. He landed his first client after taking the guidance he received at the Mylance Accelerator training. He began with a small group of 10, which included acquaintances from work and personal relationships. The objective was for everybody to be aware of his activities. The topic of one of those discussions eventually became the basis for a project.
2. How to Get Clients for Consulting Business through Referrals?
Social proof is the tendency for individuals to put stock in the opinions of others. We do this because we believe that other people have more information than we have on a given subject. We are more inclined to adopt the behavior of someone in our social group if it has proven successful for them.
To begin with, it's excellent practice when you have to explain your work to someone else. Presenting yourself to individuals in your field will be a piece of cake if you can get your loved ones and friends, and coworkers to get it.
A second benefit is communicating with them directly and reaching out to their networks. Make sure they understand what you do so they can recommend you to others in need.
It would be best to discuss your specific area of expertise to get more precise clients. Referrals from satisfied customers are easier to come by when you're targeting a particular niche market. That is because you can establish yourself as a specialist in your field while raising awareness of your services and products. As a result, you'll be seen as an industry leader.
A consulting engagement coming to an end does not mean the end of the world, as you can have endless opportunities to flourish in your career.
Ask your current and former consulting clients for recommendations. Since you can't predict when they might need to hire you again, it's in your best interest to stay in touch and provide a tremendous offboarding experience. And they could know someone who could use your assistance.
You should always write an offboarding email after a deliverable with a client to accomplish the following:
- Make sure you express gratitude for their business
- Provide a bulleted list of the outcomes you've helped them accomplish
- seeks their opinion and comments (you can later seek their permission to turn them into a testimonial)
- Ask if they know anyone else who could use your assistance.
You can also have your present customers participate in a referral scheme. Having satisfied customers speak well of your business is the most straightforward approach to increasing your social proof. Offering modest incentives on successful recommendations can increase your new customer acquisition rate by as much as 80%.
- Organizing a contest based on referrals.
- Giving VIP treatment to referrers and their referred customers.
- Collaboration with other experts whose clientele could benefit from your services.
Example from our community AMA
Freelance consultant Daniel Cohen Arcamone is an expert in assisting startups in growing their operations to meet the demands of rapid expansion. The first consultancy job that came to Daniel was a referral. After the CEO of Mylance, Bradley Jacobs decided to stop freelancing to devote himself entirely to Mylance. He connected Daniel with a client who urgently needed analytics and operations support. Daniel's initial 2-month contract turned into a more permanent arrangement.
Freelance consultant Adam Barney also benefits greatly from his extensive personal referral network. He works only 20 hours a week yet makes a good living.
3. How to get Consulting Clients Fast through Expert Networks?
Over the past two decades, more than 100 expert network organizations have sprouted up worldwide to link businesses to knowledge and, more precisely, to the experts who possess that knowledge.
Expert networks are an excellent resource for businesses and investors looking to employ experts with niche knowledge. So, being a freelance consultant, these platforms can benefit you greatly.
Providers of expert network services usually start by asking their clients about the specifics of their expertise needs, then narrowing down the pool of available experts to the best matches, and then facilitating communication between the business and the expert. Therefore, to avoid passing up an opportunity, you must clearly define your area of expertise within the consulting sector.
The good news is that once a business has established connections with a few specialist networks, possibilities like these will start to present themselves to you. Neither promotion nor sales are required of you, and payment is made within a few days.
Qualifying for an assignment usually takes no more than ten minutes, and once you've worked on a few projects, you'll develop your groove and won't have to spend any time getting ready.
The rapid expansion of these worldwide expert network businesses has resulted in a $1.9 billion industry, with "The Big 5" at the forefront of a surge in venture capital funding.
- Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG)
- Guidepoint Global
- Coleman Research
- Third Bridge
Example from our community AMA
After completing a $20,000 Catalant project, Mylance CEO Bradley Jacobs was offered a three-month retainer. Remember that they only had $5,000 to spend on this project, but he assured them that he could deliver far more value than that. They requested a proposal, nevertheless, and his price was accepted without objection.
4. How do Consulting Firms get Clients through Social Media?
If you're freelancing, you should consider social media your brand-new best friend. Establish first contacts with organizations and individuals whose work you admire.
You can't just tweet a potential employer asking for a job. However, you can join the radar by simply following them. Connect with them at the beginning by following them, commenting on topics they care about, and showing consistent support for their work.
Meet other freelancers and clients. Indeed, real connections can be developed in cyberspace. Contacts that will help you succeed, including those with people who, once they know and trust you, may recommend business your way.
It's also worth a shot to look for actively hiring people. You may discover advertisements on every social media platform that read something like, "I'm seeking an X to accomplish Y..."
There are a lot of places you may offer assistance, including Facebook and LinkedIn groups and Twitter chats.
If you want to succeed on LinkedIn:
- Find your place: Make sure you have a well-defined specialty to reach your target audience.
- Enhance your online persona: Don't forget to upload your resume, a professional headshot, a personalized URL, and relevant links to your online portfolio.
- Request recommendations: Digitally speaking, these bolster the credibility of your company's social proof.
- Participate in communities: Engage in discussions related to your field to establish your credibility as an expert.
- Regularly publish new material: Here, you can promote whatever you like, be it a guest post, articles on your blog, or anything else you believe your readers will enjoy.
Example from our community AMA
Having worked in real estate marketing for a while, Jennifer Gerhard works independently as a consultant. After leaving her employment and joining Mylance, she landed her first customer by writing a LinkedIn article about her decision to become a marketing freelancer/consultant.
Four good discussions were started because of that post. She would contact them via Calendly to arrange a time for a Zoom meeting, then talk to them in person about their needs.
She promised to send along a one-page proposal based on the one she had worked on at the July Mylance Bootcamp and some pricing possibilities shortly after the call. In addition, she found it beneficial to have a half contract and half-hourly for the job she was performing. At least, this was the response she received from her initial client, and it enabled her to win even more freelance contracts since then.
5. How Do Consultants Get Clients through Cold outreach?
When you require new clients quickly, cold calling is the best method to take control of the situation. Most people try to avoid this, but it is crucial if you want to double your business's revenue in a matter of months.
Fundamentals of cold calling include:
- Find a customer you'd want to work for
- Find an issue that they have (but may not be aware of) that you can help them with
- Make a compelling offer and get in touch
When you make a cold pitch, you're forging a new road; in contrast, when you react to a job advertisement, you're contending with other experts for the same position.
Clients you can cold-call:
- Brands and personalities you're already familiar with
- AngelList's most recently backed startups
- Job Announcements
- Recent newspaper advertisements
Learning to pitch in a cold situation is a skill that needs to be mastered. Keep in mind that the other party did not initiate contact with you via email. They have no idea who you are. Your offer is without merit, and they have every right to disregard you. You have substantial obstacles in swaying their opinion.
You may attract more customers by utilizing a variety of methods.
Keys to a Successful Cold Pitch
Make it personal. You may be sure that your email will be marked as spam if the recipient reads the greeting "Dear Sir/Madam" or "Dear Business Owner" upon opening. Be courteous and learn the recipient's name before sending an email. However, choosing the best possible name is only the beginning.
Every cold pitch you send out should be tailored to the recipient's specific company, needs, and wants.
Spend the additional 30 minutes researching and writing a customized message for each lead. It would be evident that you just copied and pasted the text, and the recipient would interpret it as a sign that you don't care about them.
I think it's important to establish credibility with your audience by demonstrating your knowledge. The best approach to do this is to offer your services or products for free. In the long run, this is quite beneficial. Find a difficulty, and we'll provide a free remedy.
Tell them what you can do for them (such as increase their Instagram followers) and how you intend to do it in your pitch email. Your diligence in finding this information will be evident. Better answers are those that provide as much detail as possible.
Create a path for them to accept
Don't put unnecessary hurdles in the way of potential business partners. Ensure they have all the information they need to decide whether or not to cooperate with you by providing the following in your pitch:
- Name, both first and last
- Your website's URL
- Contact information
Include a strong call to action
Your pitch email should end with a strong call to action to increase the likelihood of a response. Is there a specific action you hope your viewers take? Would you like them to evaluate their sales funnel approach during a complimentary 15-minute call?
Before you sign off, explain to the customer why they've moved on to the next phase of your sales funnel. And remember, they're still getting to know you, so don't make any drastic changes or ask for anything too expensive just now.
Your email's call to action should not be complicated, time-consuming, or cost anything. To obtain more leads via Instagram, instead of stating, "Book an $800 social networking package today," you may ask, "When are you free for a 15-minute talk about how I might assist you to generate more leads via Instagram?"
Keep in touch. Don't give up hope if you don't respond immediately. However, avoid becoming overly insistent. There is no need to send a follow-up email until a week has passed. If you send two emails and still don't hear back, it's probably best to move on. You don't want to be known as an annoying consultant.
Example from our community AMA
Professionally, Nick Scherer serves as a consultant for businesses in the green energy sector on a freelance basis. He finds new contracting gigs by cold calling businesses with openings for people with his skillset and presenting them on a temporary, contract, or freelance basis. Nick's ideal week consists of 30-50 hours of work and participation in activities with a significant positive impact.
Tactic 6: Job Boards
Numerous businesses are investing heavily in full-time roles that may be unnecessary if a consultant could meet their demands. One strategy is to reply to job ads with offers to consult instead. Please explain it to them as a means to save money for the business.
Consider the case of a startup debating between hiring a permanent marketing manager to plan the rollout of a new product versus a consultant in the field who can do the planning and then hand off the plan to the in-house team. Remind them that doing so will save money by eliminating expenses like providing benefits to workers.
Okay, so let's experiment. How about sending this in your application or a message to the manager:
I'm writing to apply for the position of marketing assistant recently advertised on your website. I believe that with a robust digital marketing plan, you could quickly multiply your brand's exposure and increase sales by a factor of ten. I can offer you a plan to accomplish this for around half the price of employing a marketing assistant, and I guarantee it will be far more successful.
If you're curious about how this works, I'd be delighted to arrange a complimentary conversation to fill you in.
Warm regards and best wishes.
See what you did there? Remember that every job posting conceals an actual need on the part of the organization. They might not even be aware of the most efficient approach.
Making a living as a consultant is possible if you can step in and solve their problem more effectively and for fewer funds than it would cost them to hire someone full or part-time.
Using this service may limit your ability to choose which clients you deal with, but it's a fantastic method to connect with eager customers.
The one exception is that you shouldn't waste anyone's time by seeming interested in the advertised employment if you're not.
Consider the following resources when searching for employment opportunities:
- Remote. co
- We Work Remotely
Example from our community AMA
Freelance consultant Katharina Mueller first dipped her toes in the industry by offering her services on sites like Fiverr and Upwork. Now she has a personal network that is her primary source of new opportunities.
7. Get Consulting Clients through Join Startup Communities
There seems to be a new startup community or growth hacking network springing up daily somewhere in the world. These entrepreneurial ecosystems have become a veritable treasury of ideas and information to assist founders in increasing innovation and getting insights that will aid in establishing their firms.
Many founders who frequent these sites are in the early stages of developing a product or service and searching for guidance in branding, pricing, distribution channels, and customer service. Issues exist which must be addressed. Where else could you possibly find a client for your consultancy services?
You need to select an expert whose issues fit your consultancy's niche. Create a one-of-a-kind selling point to get in touch with this entrepreneur and provide them with the help they need.
Putting some effort into making your note unique is highly recommended. You probably already know that LinkedIn users get cold-approached constantly. Make yourself stand out by showing that you've done your homework and establishing any personal connections you can. A great way to save money on emails is to include a note with your connection invite.
Example from our community AMA
Mylance's current chief executive officer, Bradley Jacobs, once scoured the web for new ventures in food delivery, freight/logistics, and ridesharing. He used to check them out on Linkedin, and if he could get their email address, he sent them a pleasant note.
Moreover, he had good luck contacting businesses directly through their websites or recruiters. Whenever he needed to reach out to people, he used LinkedIn because it seemed the most professional network.
While much initial effort is required to get your marketing campaigns off the ground, many may continue operating without your input. Innovative communication and tools that magnify your voice are vital to be discovered.
Consulting professionals, especially those with a well-thought-out strategy, have a bright future ahead of them.
If you're looking to break into the freelance consulting world, hopefully, you'll find some work using these tips. Fight the good fight! Client acquisition is complex at the outset but improves with time and the quality of work.
This is a terrific place to begin, and once you've impressed them with your incredible skills, you'll discover a ton of new strategies to increase how you obtain your work.
And here's an extra piece of advice: try to fit in all seven of these activities while keeping your current day job. In other words, before you take the plunge, you should start growing your clientele and reputation.
Every Mylance team member has done consulting. We're experts, and we've seen what consulting enables: more time with our families, traveling the world, more time on passion projects, or to start that business we've been dreaming about.