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June 1, 2020 09:45

Step-by-step Approach To Find Your First Client As A Freelancer

How To Find Your First Consulting Customer?

In the consulting business, you celebrate three milestones: your first client, your first million, and your first billion.


But as they say, first things first.

When you start your freelance business, you need to spend 80% of your time, efforts, and money to find your first customer. 

This is the famous 80/20 Pareto method which has already proven its efficiency. Sales is a necessary evil, and nobody other than you can deal with consulting sales.

Your priority is now to find your first customer. The one who’s going to create the momentum of your consulting activity.

This is an important moment for the rest of your freelance activity because it’s going to create confidence in your talents and build the foundations of your consulting company.

And the first brick is always the most important.


But how can we find the first client?


The first move of a consultant is always to confront the reality of the market to the vision he has about the value he delivers. And to do so you need to go in the real world and interact directly. Forget your iPhone, your computer, and your social media. Go outside and convince yourself you’re back in the ’80s. Speak to people!


But why is it so hard to start taking action and going in front of people to discuss our new consulting activity?


We all want to postpone the day of the real start, it's a normal reaction.

Sitting comfortably behind our computer screen, we’re well hidden from the world. More than hidden in fact. Protected from the cold hard truth about our Consulting Offer.  We collect data and send invitations, we try to persuade ourselves we’re already on the highway to success but we’re lost on a country lane. We don’t know where we are. And the later we start driving on the road of freelance activity, the less confident we are in our ability to sign our first consulting contract. A vicious circle sets in.


The plan to find your first freelance customer


Step#1: Reach your close relationships


The closer, the better.

Something is 100% sure: everyone is your inner circle of acquaintances want to help you. And even your grandma might have met someone of interest a long time ago. Nevermind. Don’t underestimate the power of your family network. But consider this step as leverage only.

In fact, your inner circle doesn’t want to be too hard with you. They want to maintain a good relationship so they’re not going to provide transparent feedback about your Consulting Offer. Don’t be hard with them; they just want to protect you.

Moreover, there’s only a low probability your family is expert in what you do and so perfectly understand the potential value you provide. So once you have spread the news and explained to close relationship the value of your consulting activity and the Ideal Consulting Customer you're looking for, it's time to go to step #2.


Step#2: Contact the close professional relationships to get feedback from potential real consulting customers


You must find some company you know very well. A close connection. It doesn't matter if it's a big client, a small client, whether you really like what he has to offer or not. The important thing is to GET STARTED. TO CREATE MOMENTUM. Then you will gain confidence, and start prospecting the rest of the market like I’ll explain to you later.

My rationale here is very simple: the network gives you access to the best projects, without asking for any pre-requisites and can give quick results and a lot of feedbacks.

Reconnecting with your colleagues or your past can be simple as asking someone to go out to grab a cup of coffee or a beer.  Naturally, you’ll discuss what you’re doing, why you’d like to embrace some changes in your life, and people will give you in return the good strings to pull.

Once you have contracted your first assignment, you will make a priority to build your network, make it grow, and build relationships that matter.


Step #3: Expand your consulting network


Since you’re now “CEO” or “Managing Director” of your company, your name will naturally fall in many directories. Consequently, many opportunities will be offered to you to expand your network and stumble upon people you already know. And you need to seize them to connect with your audience. Take a piece of paper and start the following list:

  • Congress and events on your specific expertise, topic, or segment. As far as I’m concerned this is the best investment of your time. You stay connected to your niche, to people evolving in it, and remain at the forefront of innovation. Participating in congress is a good opportunity to invest in yourself.
  • Invitations by companies for open days, the inauguration of a new building…
  • Government and political meetings about exports, grants, innovation corporate centers opening, and extension
  • Start-up incubators corridors where you stumble upon other consultants,
  • Business clubs, business angel’s organizations, private clubs
  • Sport and leisure centers,
  • Professional training centers.


Step #4: Use Julien personal success tip 


Why not asking to your current employer to take you as a freelance?

Crazy move? Not really in fact.

Your boss perfectly knows your value and quickly estimate the expenses of losing you. This is exactly what I’ve done in launching my business, and my former employer has rapidly become one of my most important customers. I would add you will keep a link to your former comfort zone by performing a job you’ve already done, handling little by little the other changes in your daily life, dealing with accountancy, invoicing, prospection. A smooth and appreciable transition for you and your former employer. This is what I’ve personally done when I launched Isy Bio. And ImmuneHealth became one of my best customers.


MISTAKES TO AVOID in search for your first consulting client


Too many people are rushing all over LinkedIn to find the maximum number of contacts and prospecting.

This is not the moment to use the Internet and social media to create a consulting business. Far from it, in fact.

You’re going to engage with people you don’t really know who and your services. Even if you’re a great seller, it’s going to be complicated to deal with a perfect unknown to get your first consulting contract.

Maybe you’re going to manage to sign something after long discussions, but you won’t have any clue about the reality and the seriousness of the mission.

You’re in dark waters.

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