Though it’s a classic way of connecting with new clients, the tactic of handing out your business cards is still relevant in today’s technological age.more »
Don’t miss an opportunity to make a name for yourself. Get yourself out there and introduce yourself.more »
Wondering how to become a consultant and succeed? It starts with focus and confidence – and you may find that figuring out your path helps with the latter.more »
Finding new clients – read on for tips. In the next few weeks you can look forward to another series of articles on finding new clients for your consulting business. I will cover traditional approaches as well as not-so-traditional. Some of these ideas will be familiar to you. But I hope you also learn some new techniques that will help you build your client base and increase your business.
Before you decide on any approach, you need to identify your target market. Who do you picture as a prospective client? Age, sex and level of education are examples of questions you need to ask yourself. Will your clients be individuals or small businesses? Ask questions specific to your type of business.
So, create an ideal client profile – it will be an invaluable tool for finding new customers. Knowing your target market is a must-do before you start promoting your consulting business.
So get ready for a wealth of tips and tricks to help you connect with new clients!
Related to this post
- Clients for people who become consultants
- Friday 5 – top 5 audience analysis tools
- Finding new clients – part 2
So you’re working for somebody else but you dream of becoming a full-time self-employed consultant. The good news is: you don’t have to up and quit your current job! A great way to achieve your goal is to start consulting part-time.
Why should you do this?
- Finances – your current job is your ‘safety net.’ Staying in your existing job enables you to build your consulting client base at your own pace and without financial worries.
- Experience – consulting part-time while you continue to work provides you with valuable hands-on experience. You may also realize you need to gain more knowledge through courses or classes. During this time you can start networking and perhaps even find a mentor. Everything you learn now will prepare you for the day you want to move into full-time consulting.
- Enjoyment – working as a part-time consultant gives you the time you need: you can focus on your goal and discover just how rewarding being a consultant can be!
Other aspects to consider:
And never forget…
- Keep your dream alive! Focus on what you need to do to make it work. Stay positive. Increase your knowledge. Challenge yourself. And never lose sight of your goal of becoming a full-time self-employed consultant.
Related to average consultant rates
- How to make the leap into full-time consulting
- Do you own your life?
- Learn to free-lance and change your life
You think you want to become a consultant, but you’re not sure what direction to take. A good starting-point is to do a personal inventory for yourself. This involves taking stock of your unique skills, attributes and experiences. (Refer to Discover Your Inner Consultant for help in carrying out an inventory.) You probably have a good idea of your skills and abilities, both personally and professionally.
But you may not know it all – you are only looking at yourself from your point of view. Other people in your life, especially those you live or work closely with, may have a better idea of your talents than you do.
Six tips for self discovery
- Ask your friends and family: What do they think your best skills and abilities are? You might be surprised at what you hear.
- Listen to compliments: Really listen; don’t automatically disregard them. What are people telling you? Try taking notes, even if it just means jotting things down in a diary or Word doc.
- List ‘easy’ tasks: The tasks you find easy are a good indicator of where your strengths lie. Can you build on these?
- Notice your feelings: What do you really enjoy doing? What would you love to learn? Make a list of what challenges you and what bores you. Notice any patterns?
- Ask your boss and co-workers: Those who work with you should have a good grasp of your strengths and weaknesses.
- Ask your teachers and classmates: Here is a group of people that you’ve likely spent years with; who better to ask what qualities they noticed and admired about you?
Don’t be shy; only by asking directly will you discover your potential in becoming a consultant. Listen to what people are telling you – they are a valuable resource that you should not overlook.
- 5 reasons to listen to your inner voice
- How much experience do you need for consulting?
- Knowing your values
Like other professionals, consultants can suffer from boredom or stress or isolation. Often your productivity declines as a result, which can lead to frustration or apathy. Does this sound like you?
Via Elephant Magazine, here are 3 surprising things that will increase your work productivity:
- Take your work to a cafe.
- Take your dog to work.
- Slow down!
For consultants who work from home, Tip #1 is great advice. Getting out of the house and into a stimulating environment can work wonders if you’re stuck in a rut or feeling lonely.
As for bringing your dog to work, well if it’s allowed, why not? According to the article, the presence of a dog can reduce office stress and also relax clients.
Tip #3, slowing down, means adding quality time to your life. Exercise more. Sleep more. Eat well.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much to shake things up. It’s so important to keep your mind and body in tune, both mentally and physically. If you do, you will definitely see an improvement in your work productivity.
Related posts:more »
How many times have you had to reference something and not been able to find what you’re looking for? How about the phone number of a prospect you met yesterday in the coffee shop? Exactly what did you tell your client on the phone two weeks ago?
There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to find what you need… right now. Your consulting business will operate far more smoothly if you record and save vital information.
- Filing system: This is the most obvious and the most important. Filing makes work so much easier, so make it a point to keep your files organized and up-to-date.
- Telephone calls: Jot down the name and date of every client and potential client that you speak to. Also note the purpose of the call. File them accordingly.
- Notes: Use a good old-fashioned notepad or use your smart-phone (note-taking apps are available). Take notes either during client interviews/discussions or soon afterwards while the information is still fresh in your mind.
- Email: You can use your email to create a paper trail. Create folders to save important messages, including messages that you have sent. Keep your inbox clean so you’re not scrolling through 100 messages to find the one you need.
- Computer: Again, create folders and sub-folders to save important documents. And remember: back-up your files regularly.
Leaving a paper trail will save you much time and hassle in the future. Clients aside, staying organized will also make tax time (or audit time) a less stressful experience. And while keeping accurate records is important, you should also get rid of unimportant clutter. Eliminating unnecessary documents and files will also save you time and effort when it comes to finding needed information.
- How to manage home office clutter
- Feel more organized clean your inbox
- I love my smart phone
- Office gadgets I can’t live without
As a consultant, you want to leave your clients more than satisfied with your services. But how do you know how happy they are after the job is done? You might think you’ve done a fantastic job, but the client may not agree. Learning what you’ve done right, and wrong, is an important step in becoming a successful consultant.
So how do you find out exactly what your clients think? Create a survey!
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Select your method of delivery. Mail? Email? Telephone? Choose the method with which you will be most comfortable.
- Contact your client a.s.a.p. Their memory of your services will still be fresh in their minds. A good method is to include the survey with the invoice and request that they send their response along with their cheque. Consider giving them an incentive – such as an entry in a draw or a reward for a future purchase.
- Design the survey. Make it clear what you are asking. You can ask open-ended questions or have your client select from options. Combining both is good practice. Leave space for comments. You can also use an external site to create your survey, as I did here.
- Keep it simple. Be specific as to what you are asking, and keep the survey short. You don’t want the client confused, or to lose interest. Make it easy for them to give their feedback.
- Don’t take it personally. You may not get as many responses as you expected. Remember: people might be too busy or just forgetful. Or perhaps you received some ‘negative’ feedback. Don’t beat yourself up; learn from it.
- Follow up. Thank your client for taking the time to respond. Let them know that they’ve been heard.
Learning what your clients think of your consulting services is a great way to build a solid relationship with your clients. Also, by addressing client issues, you will encourage repeat customers. And don’t forget that you will receive positive comments as well, a sure sign that you are becoming a successful consultant!
- How to turn one-off jobs into lasting client relationships
- Small business customer relationship management
- How to get testimonials – six tips
It’s your worst nightmare: the client phones and says that you’ve made a big mistake. What do you do? Whatever you do, don’t have a nervous breakdown. Stay calm and analyze the situation. As an independent consultant, remember that it’s up to you to remedy the situation quickly and with a minimum of fuss.
Listen carefully and don’t interrupt or defend yourself. Apologize but don’t grovel. Don’t go on the defensive or overreact. Tell the client that you will correct the situation as soon as possible.
Assess your mistake. What went wrong? Was the mistake an issue of miscommunication? What can you do to prevent this from happening again?
Explain the mistake to your client and take responsibility. No matter how irate a client is, they’ll usually appreciate your honesty. Tell your client how you are going to fix the mistake. Have an action plan/remedy ready, so that you are prepared for questions or asked for more details.
Fix the mistake and then move on. Don’t let your errors prevent you from moving forward or trying something new. You don’t learn much from doing something perfectly; real knowledge comes from the errors you make. Think of each mistake as a “teacher”.
Remember, we all make mistakes. What’s important is that you learn from each experience so that you don’t make the same mistake twice.
- The best mistake I’ve ever made
- What Bill Murray can teach you about mistakes
- What Michael Jordan can teach you about business