~by Haley Lynn Gray~
When it comes to building a business, the #1 question I hear most often is, “How do I find clients?” There is good reason behind this, since, if you don’t have clients or customers, you don’t have a business.
One thing I truly didn’t appreciate when I first started my business is just how much of a sales person I was going to have to become. I thought that if I built it, clients and customers would come. However, I was pretty far off the mark. A couple of months into the business, I came to the hard realization that if I wanted clients, I needed to hustle for them. But where to find them? How do you go out and find those ever elusive clients?
So, I thought I’d share my list of how and where to find clients for your business. Note that your success rate may vary, depending on what kind of business you have and where your ideal clients hide. So think about who your ideal client is before you start thinking about hunting them down.
1. Networking Meetings. You can often find clients and get referrals to clients through networking meetings. I know some very successful business people who go to networking meetings all day long, all week long. Typically, you can find networking meetings through BNI.com and through Meetup.com. You can also ask other entrepreneurs in your area. Realtors frequently attend a large number of networking meetings, so they may be a good source for a quality list of networking meetings. When you go to a meeting, make sure that the people you meet will be good referral sources or sources of leads themselves before deciding to join. Since most business is actually conducted outside of the meetings, you should collect contact information from the people who attend the meeting, then schedule a 1:1 meeting with each of them. Build relationships with those people who will be most beneficial to you and your business by finding people who are natural referral partners.
2. Facebook. Yes. Facebook is social media, and people like to go hang out on social media. They also spend a lot of money through social media. You’d be amazed at how much business is done through Facebook. The trick with Facebook is to find an assortment of groups where your ideal client lives, then go hang out in those groups and be of service. Note that many groups don’t allow you to directly solicit to the group, but that’s OK, because sales is about helping people, not just being slimy, sleazy and pushy with sales talk. Make a point of listing your business on your on personal Facebook page, be of help, gently let people know what you do, and you will get referrals. I have gotten dozens of referrals for my home care business by being of service in one of the local moms groups. I don’t post about it constantly, but I am there, answering questions and generally being helpful. If someone has a question about a senior topic, I’m there to hop on the phone and answer questions, even if they don’t benefit my business directly.
3. LinkedIn. LinkedIn is designed for business. You need to update your profile to show what you do, post regularly, participate in LinkedIn Groups, and also publish articles on LinkedIn. You get out of it what you put into it, so no lurking and quietly reading posts while hiding in the shadows. For this to work properly, you need to let people know you exist, and put yourself out there consistently. You also need to build your network, contact people, and interact with them regularly. Social media for business isn’t about being a quiet wallflower and hoping someone notices you and wants to do business with you. It’s for getting out there and letting people know you are there.
4. Twitter. Twitter is a fantastic platform for business. It’s easy to build up followers and engage with them. Also, since there is so much noise on Twitter, you can confidently pitch yourself regularly. Unlike other platforms where you need to be judicious about promoting yourself, on Twitter you can definitely post promotional offers every day, at different times during the day. Posting many times a day is encouraged on Twitter, and it seems like those who post lots and lots of great content get the most attention.
5. Pinterest. Pinterest isn’t just for crafts and food anymore. It is being used for a wide variety of businesses now, and can drive tremendous amounts of traffic back to your website if you use proper tagging and great images with descriptive text on them.
6. Alumni Groups. By joining local alumni groups from your university, you may be able to find plenty of ideal clients. You will, of course, have to use this as a networking opportunity. But you can easily build your network this way, as you already have something in common with other members of the club.
7. Chamber of Commerce. By joining the Chamber of commerce, you can meet other local small business owners and build relationships with them. They may become referral sources for you or be good clients for your business.
8. YouTube Videos. If you are able to consistently put out high quality, reasonably short, educational videos, you can develop a fanatical following on YouTube. By making sure that you optimize for keywords and keyword searches, you will increase the likelihood that the videos will be found. By allowing people to see you in action, as it were, you will have a larger audience. Start a Youtube Video Channel, and start bringing in those clients.
9. Blogging and Guest Blogging. By putting out great quality content on a regular basis, you’ll find you can build your clientele. Most people will search for you on the internet when they are given a referral to your business, so you want to stand out. By guest blogging on other websites, you’re getting in front of their audience, and hopefully directing them back to your own website or blog.
10. Direct Mailing. You can buy mailing lists for just about any demographic you can imagine. If you steadily send a group targeted mailings, then you are likely to eventually convert some of them to clients.
11. Cold Calling. Yep. I said it. Cold calling isn’t dead, and you’d be amazed at how calling people that you’ve targeted specifically as being part of your demographic works. If you know who your ideal client is, and what their demographics are, then this may be a viable option for your business. Write a short spiel, and be prepared to send out more information. Also be prepared to have some people who are less than happy to hear from you and who bless you out.
12. Advertising in Media. This can be a fairly expensive option, but if you have the budget, and have a TV or radio station whose audience matches your target demographic, then it may make economic sense. You have to weigh the pros and cons of this one, as it can be quite costly.
13. Google Pay-Per-Click. You buy ads on Google, and if someone clicks on your ad then you pay for that click. They get sent to your website, and then can decide if they want to contact you for more information or buy your product or service.
14. Email List. For many businesses, their email list is truly where the money is. You can build your email list in a variety of ways: by asking people you meet if they’d like to receive your emails, by building a sales funnel, and by other means.
15. Webinars. Create awesome content that people want, and deliver it live, regularly. When you add those people to your email list, you can keep reaching out to them again and again. You can do this with or without slides. The key is to just do it.
There are so many ways to get out there and find clients, and to help them find you; the options are nearly limitless. I could probably have built a list of 50 different ways to find clients, but this should be a good start for you to find them.
What are your favorite ways to find new clients?
Meet the Author: Haley Lynn Gray
Haley helps female entrepreneurs create a strategy plan for their businesses – so they can make enough money to spend quality time with their family, pay for their children’s dance lessons, pay bills – and not worry about where the next client is coming from.
Haley is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Leadership Girl. She helps other entrepreneurs build their businesses by sharing the benefits of her business education and experience through Business Coaching.
Whether you want to get a new business off the ground or expand an existing business, Haley can assist you.
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