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Finding New Clients

Searching for clientsWhen you freelance as a management consultant, it is important to hone your skills in finding new clients. Without clients, your attempts at creating a successful strategy consultant freelance business will fail. 

Before actively searching for clients, you should identify the industries, functions, sectors, and locations from which you will most likely be drawing clients. Concerning industry, you should consider your experience in industry. You need to know what type of consulting services you will offer to clients. What industries are most likely to take advantage of your services? Are there industries where you have less experience? Try to identify about half a dozen industries that you have interest in working for or for which you have experience. 

Once you have identified key industries that await your services, you should try to determine whether you want to work cross function and if so, what functions you are qualified to do.  By taking this important step, you can effectively market yourself to industries you are interested in, and say "no" to projects requiring functions you have little to no experience with. 

Depending upon your skill set, you may find that you can easily work in both the public and the private sector. Sometimes, however, you may find that your skills limit you. So, in this important step of identifying the target market for your services, consider the sector, and the company size for which you want to consult. 

Finally, determine where you will provide your services.  Are you willing to work internationally? Only locally? Will you provide consulting services remotely, through the internet?  The broader your location range, the more client potentials you will find that you have.

Once you have done this important analysis to find your target markets, you can then take steps to find potential clients.  There are different avenues for this. There are two types of marketing: active and passive. Active marketing involves contacting people, setting up meetings, and asking for recommendations. Here is a brief list of examples of active marketing:

Contact those you already made connections with in your target market. Look through your list of contacts. Who on that list is in a position to hire a freelancer like you or has a contact that hires freelancers? Write a letter to these people informing them of your intent to provide your management consulting services as a freelance agent. 

Cold Calling - This is one of the oldest forms of gaining new clients. A cold call means you have never made contact with the agency before. It is one of the hardest ways to market your services, but it does work. You go through a directory, with a script written out beforehand, and introduce yourself, find out whom to talk to, and sell your services. The law of returns states that no matter how many "no's" you get, you will eventually get a yes.  Directories you may be interested in are:           
  • The Yellow Pages (http://www.yell.com)            
  • Kompass (http://www.kompass.co.uk
  • Industry specific directories (Google the industry and "Directory" and you should come up with a few)
  • Consultancy specific directories (http://news.top-consultant.com/guide_to_consulting_Firms.aspx) - this is particularly useful if you are interested in picking up work through other consultancies that have overflow. 
  • Regional directories - these include things like your Chamber of Commerce, networking groups, or it can include membership directories. This can be a great place to look for new clients. 
  • Social networks like LinkedIn - LinkedIn can be a great way to find new clients for your freelance business. Connect to everyone you know on LinkedIn, anyone you meet at networking events, and join relevant groups to your consulting field. Once you have done this, search by industry and then by size.  Through doing this, you will see a listing of the type of company you would like to provide your services to. If you are connected to someone at the company, use them as an "in" to introduce yourself and your services. 
  • Google - You can use Google to search for companies that you would like to work for and to get the names of key contacts. 

Direct Marketing Mailing Lists - There are two (http://marketingfile.com and http://www.dma.org.uk) that are well known.  A direct marketing mailing list gives you a list of companies with relevant information and contact people for your business. You can construct a letter, or hire someone to write a sales letter for you, to market companies through mail. 

Networking Events and Conferences - At all networking events, make sure you take plenty of copies of your business card, you will hand out two or more copies to each person you meet.  The idea behind this is that the contact can then pass on your information if he or she encounters someone requiring your services. Follow up on all connections made at such events within three days

Passive marketing is marketing where the potential client contacts you. Passive marketing is done for the long haul. Here are forms of clients finding you through passive marketing:

Your Yellow Pages Entry - you can either take out a simple line entry or a box depending upon your marketing funds. 

Industry Specific Directories - you will want to make sure you are listed in relevant directories so that potential clients in your industry will be able to easily find you.

Writing Articles and or Columns in Your Niche Market - by building a reputation for knowing your field, you can attract potential clients that will contact you solely based upon your writing appearing in a trade magazine or on a website. 

Advertising - This includes online and offline advertising. Google Adwords can be a good resource as can advertising within trade press venues. Find out what your target market reads and then advertise there. 

Forums and Message Boards - Again, there will be many different places you can visit where you can advertise your services to potential clients; forums and message boards online can be a great place to find potential clients. Leave your contact information for others to find. 

Blogs and Websites - Write a regular blog column covering your area of expertise. By doing this, you can address issues your clients and industry experiences.  Also, make sure you have a website that features relevant SEO keywords so that people find you. 

Talks, Presentations, Free Reports - The best way to get new clients is through demonstrating your expertise.  By giving talks and presentations on the subject matter, you increase the number of people who are familiar with you.  Through giving free reports, you can help your potential clients see that you have the expertise they need in their company. 

By using a variety of the above techniques - and implementing both passive and active forms of marketing, you can find clients quickly and efficiently for your freelance management consulting business.           



 
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