As a new company, what is the most effective way of networking for new clients?
Worked in several different industries all over the world and specializing in document control, writing procedures/job instructions/ manuals, cleaning up electronic filing systems and streamlining processes and wanting to gain clients all over the world.
First thing to do is to Target a particular Market segment to whom you think are the real customers. Then you should position your product(high quality low price or high quality high price).
Once the above things are done, then you can pitch in via social media which is the best way to develop Brand awareness. So, by now people of that segment should know that what your product is about. You can now go ahead and develop a good SEO strategy so that your website receives a good number of hits. This is one channel of finding clients.
Another way is to attend the events and conferences where you can develop a good rapo with an influencer who has a good social circle and approach. Meet more people, speak to them and educate them regarding your product. For any new product the word of mouth is a great way to gain trust, and once that trust is established you will get clients. It is usually a long road but you need to have patience.
First, you MUST define your target market and ideal customer. The determine what pain you solve for this market and what result that your prospects will receive from using your product or service.
Then find out where your target hangs out and what local networking events they attend.
Next, develop a compelling elevator pitch using the marketing equation - Interrupt, Engage, Educate, and Offer. Then deliver the elevator pitch at the networking events.
1. Find out where your potential clinets and potential referral sources do their networking and go there.
2. Have a goal in mind -- number of people you want to meet -- it needs to be reasonable,
3. Follow-up -- call or email the people you meet and set-up a meeting with them to learn about why they do what they do not just the what.
Join professional associations in each country you would like to locate clients.Use mosaic hub, Xing, Referral Key, LinkedIn, even specialised groups on Facebook, for example, to get on as many groups as you can.
But not groups of people that do what YOU do. There you will only find people doing exactly what you are doing. Instead locate networks and groups of professionals that are LIKELY to be clients.
So I would sit down and work out what a client would be. What do they do? Have? What sort of product or service are they likely to need or want? THEN when that is worked out join up with groups that have such clients in them.
Lots of excellent advice above also.
Hi Ms. Hart,
This is one of the best times to pitch a unique value proposition and demonstrate a high return on investment for your potential customers.
If you are stating the following (based on what I have come to know from your profile):
a) Paying for 100% productive work only - This means high ROI for client prior to payment
b) Highly motivated and goal orientated to get the work done - This is desired in external consultants and a great reason to get contracts as it delivers item "a" for the client.
c) Confidentiality in any job that is undertaken - This gives you a higher diversity in the industry where you choose to consult.
d) Available to assist you no matter where you are in the world - This trait shows your work is virtual (WedEc type technology professional) and eliminates cost, time to travel and schedule for the customer. Takes away the complexity of traditional face-to-face consulting. A power skill.
e) Diverse knowledge in many different industries - Allows you to understand the business processes associated with each industry you have worked in.
f) Attention to detail - It is important while delivering on the scope of work and have all stones turned in the right direction to the right degree needed.
g) Advanced and intermediate computer skills - Helps customer relate to you and also trust you with their systems and structures in their work culture.
Despite these positive skills and a great track record, if you are still unable to seek clients worldwide, it tells me that you need to "Pull," instead of "Push."
A customer Pull strategy can be achieved in several ways. for example, on an average a profession could be having about 150 first-level connections in their network, say over a period of 15 years.
Traditional (Push) way to market products and services as a consultant could be to approach known members and ask for contracts in the area they are familiar and depend on known connections to get the PO approved and then go execute the milestones. This strategy is limited and will put the control into the hands of the known connection and may not sustain or bring renewable contracts.
A 21st century second decade "Pull" strategy asks of a client profile that is optimized and sells itself with barely a minor component of "Push." One example of a "Pull" component would be "how many people think and speak highly of the consultant?"
This is determined usually by the quantity and quality of the testimonials (earlier termed as endorsements on LinkedIn and now called "Recommendations). Most folks do not even take the time to solicit recommendations and then wonder why they have "Push" all their lives.
With your profile and skills plus the traits above you claim, you should be pulling like a magnet with the demand in your field at a global level. Compliance to regulations, document generation, management, and maintenance is a barrier for several organizations when it comes to cost, speed, and ROi (usually a cost avoidance soft benefit type gains for the customer).
Good luck and go "Pull." If you need assistance in such a strategy, we can discuss it offline.
It might be an open door, but it strongly depends on your proposition. If your activities are the ones you state in your question, trust and personal contact is the base. Trust in your area of expertise is very much related to branche/ sector knowledge. Do you understand their business, what are your references in their field? Focus in the mutual jargon and knowledge of your potential clients. As you need the personal contact for the second half of the trust, you'll need to be where those clients are.
Get in traffic where you can expect to meet your prospective clients.
If you are a dry cleaning service have a presence or Message Advertised in Hi end Builds that office wall street bankers or execs who dress up in suits and ties to go to work.
Basically whatever business product or service you must demonstrate a presence in the area of traffic concentration of who will benefit from your service.
Segment the target group according to need and facilitate their want with your service
For the type of business you are providing you must determine your target market (small and medium size or all companies). This particular market looks for experience in the field so once you have your target market then join/link with organizations where you will be able to connect with these people. Toastmasters, Linkedin, Mosai Hub, Chambers etc. You may also want to provide free presentations on the benefits of your service and also find and share stories where companies found themselves in problems because they did not have these services. Referrals are also key so once your friends and family are aware of your service ask for referrals. Be sure to get testimonials. Also have a mobile online service where they can share your information, Virtual call cards are also a good idea. Document your marketing strategy and keep testing until you find the right lead funnel and then stick to this. If you need help with the free virtual business card send me an email.
Ask your friends who they know.That is called your natural market.Join networking groups like Rotary etc.Find out where your High School and university friends are through Facebook.There are also many professional networking groups like `legacy international.
Use social notworks like Twitter Linkedin, Facebook tumble Google+.
Andrea, I think several good comments have been made regarding how to network. However, the most obvious seems to be if you have worked all over the world with previous clients in your area of specialization, your first point of networking should be with your previous clients. They already know you, know your expertise and experience. In my experience, I have found that if I did a good job for a specific client, they were more than willing to help me network within their peer group. In fact most of my current client base has come from word of mouth networking from current clients.
Before you start networking for new clients I would suggest ensuring you have a strong core message so when you introduce yourself, your prospects instantly know:
Who you are and what you do
Who you help and how
Why they should do business with you.
Forget about presenting your services or products. In reality, when you are networking with prospects they are only asking themselves 3 things:
1) Do I know what you do and can it help me?
2) Do I like you enough to work with you?
3) Can I trust what you say the outcome will be is actually what I will get.
Lots of good advice already about finding your market niche. Let go a bit deeper in identifying and selecting your niche. Research your top three to five areas of interest and experience. Assess the key players who can afford your services and are willing to pay. Define what the benefits are of your technical writing services and skills. Couple this talent with a personal interest and you're more likely to excel personally, professionally, and financially.
Networking is nothing compared to relationships. Relationships provide recommendations and open doors versus the coldness and risks of networking, especially online..
But, before you go to your relationships to ask for help, be specific (target audience) about who and what you want to help the prospective client achieve and why your work makes the client's life/business better. Cite such values as scalability, consistency to standards, reduction of errors, and other real problems solve or opportunities opened up.
Make it so your relationships feel like heroes for having made a meaningful and profitably connect.
Pick one topic that you can blow the doors off your competition with then once you are in the door and have demonstrated how valuable you are, let them know what else you can do.
A quick glance of the reply's you have received, I see some excellent advice. My only possible added thought would be to have you consider "Thinking Outside The Box". What I mean is that it may not bare fruit to target the "A's" where your message maybe muted by the masses. My experience is that this also opens a door to pricing wars. Networking is as good as knowing when your highest ROI of time is to be received. An example that I can share from recent experience is that I attended a well known and very active group of business owners. Although I would easily show returns that would tower over most of their online enabled marketing options, I was not herd as the majority of those attending were focused on connecting with prospective clients themselves.
I would consider first the type of target and not just segment. Example: Would you be best targeting the distributor, other middle, or the end user. I have also found it advisable to consider investing limited dollars into networking during annual niche events. I may also suggest that you Google your trade and then the organizations you are to consider networking. If you add the name of one of your competitors with the target organization, I believe you will gain the intelligence of better targeting where you will do best with your networking.
Hi Andrea, some good advise,
I'm sure that you are already doing most of this.
Just to add.
1) Get involved with LinkedIn join discussion groups within your main field of experience, i.e if it's engendering / manufacture, seek them out.
2) Participate in discussions, give your advise in general, and were possible provide some of your insight regarding you work experiences, People like real stories, They will also get a feel about you as a person.
3) Link with senior people of companies you are interested in working for.
4) Generate discussion questions around your field of work. Respond to each comment.
5) Start a blog. a topic a week or every 2 weeks. Make it short one page. provide a problem / solution. Indicate the importance of doc control or procedures. In some countries like in Australia, OH&S work practice procedures are becoming mandatory, with heavy fine for non compliance.
6) Pick a hot topic once a month, that will generate conflicting views for discussion.
It all about gaining credibility, always on your blog provide a call to action.
In your profile page provide contact details. also provide a statement relating to what you can do for the client. answer the internal question "What's in it for me"
Maybe somthing like, providing peace of mind through compliance relating to ....
There are so many things you can do, you'll have fun getting started.. My suggestions would be directed to the market segments you choose to target and do business in.
1. Make cold calls to places that can use your products/services
2. Use social media such as LinkedIn. You can ask to connect with someone, once they connect, start asking them questions that may help you build business or set up an appointment.
3. Join associations in your field. They usually have networking events and trade shows.
4. Join a civic club/group such as the Chamber of Commerce. They have networking groups and meetings and often you can ask someone to introduce you to someone you want to meet.
5. Buy a mailing list and try direct mail.
5. Once you join an association get their email list of members and send out emails to make folks aware of your business!
Start doing research and figuring out experts in your field, industry and specific market
Pick a market to target. Start with one you know the best. Network and connect with people in that market/industry. Focus regionally initially until you have mastered your process.
Don't be in a hurry to jump into other markets too quickly. Don't be in a hurry to expand globally too quickly. Put thought into expansion only after you have mastered your target market.
Trying to do too many things and being everything to everyone is not a good is generally not a good mix for success.
The besting to do is to invest sometime in attending networking seminars, inviting people to your business regularly [throw a party or similar event, to attract individuals], Finally once you've attained a primitive amount of audience, take care of them an have them invite others... "I know it worked for my business, ones or twice".
Belong to an Association that covers your areas of expertise. Provide training seminars that provide CEU credits.