When you’re first starting out with your business, be it as a consultant, a freelancer or striking out on your own, finding the clients that you want to work with can seem difficult, particularly when starting from scratch. Referrals are the backbone of gaining new clients, but lacking pre-existing connections can limit your chances of drawing in new clientele.
While directly marketing to your prospective clients is an avenue you can pursue to build up your list, it can be a length and time-consuming process.
No matter what you read, the importance of a strong network and connections in the business sphere is a message that is spread everywhere.
To effectively use your network for referrals, your network needs to be clear on what exactly you do, and who you’re doing it for. Being able to clearly and succinctly state what you do is the key to achieving your network. Your “objective” so to speak should be able to clearly and succinctly state what you do, which is the key to activating your network. It should be less than 20 words, and can be loosely based on the following:
- I help (a specific audience) achieve (a specific goal) so they can get (a specific outcome).
You can also ask your network directly for help. After reaching out to your network, one of three things may happen:
- They’ll ignore you
- They’ll say something along the lines of “I don’t know of anyone right now, but I’ll keep you in mind.”
- They’ll connect you with someone who may be interested in your services
In the worst-case scenario, you’ll be ignored. In the best-case scenario, you’ll gain a lead.
Once connected with a prospect, be very clear about what stage you’re at in regard to your business. Being introduced by a mutual connection establishes your credibility, but don’t mess it up by trying to gloss over the fact that you don’t have any clients yet. You can offer a discounted rate for your service in exchange for feedback on how you’re doing from these clients, which can benefit you in the long run.