Whether you’re just starting out, looking for new clients or wanting to grow a consulting business with the right clients, it’s important to go back to the beginning. It’s easy to overlook gaps and miss opportunities potentially of huge value to prospects and your clients. If you take the time to reflect and review your consulting business you will be able to strengthen and scale it!
We want to help you really connect and attract the best consulting clients…
How to Get Your First Consulting Client
Really get to know yourself and your consulting business
Knowing what makes you (and your business) unique is your superpower. There are no two stories, journeys, backgrounds, education, interests or beliefs that are the same. So it’s essential to highlight the most distinctive and rare things about you and your business. When you can leverage the value, and particular skill set and knowledge you have to benefit your clients, you’re guaranteed to stand out from consultants in your area.
One way to do this is skill stacking. It’s a simple concept and one that you might already do but don’t have a name for. Skill stacking means you don’t have to be the master or spend all your time mastering one thing. I’m sure that you’ve learnt a range of skills along the way, right? Skill stacking is essentially putting all your relevant consulting skills together that you already have, to differentiate yourself from the competition. You don’t have to be defined by core skills or skills you think you should have; you have so many options to expand and life experiences that you can draw from.
[Read: 36 Core Consulting Skills to Set You Apart from Your Competition]
When you bring parts of you into your business, it becomes so much more personal, and it will give you the drive and confidence in everything you do. Because ultimately, your aim and focus is your client. You can’t educate, build trust or build brand loyalty without that confidence and conviction. So that when you find consulting clients and pitch to them, you’ll be able to connect with them and know that you have the solution they’re looking for, even if they don’t know it yet.
How to find consulting clients and connect with them
If you’re looking to get your first consulting client you’ll need to be super clear on what you offer and why you offer it, so that you can identify your niche, the clients and ‘target’ them – in the nicest possible way.
Who would you love to work with?
What solution can you offer to solve their problem/reach their objective?
The way you present this solution needs to be simple, transformational and attractive to the right people.
If you already have a solution but think it could be clearer, then how do you find and create that perfect solution? You ask your ideal client! People love talking about themselves and what they do, so use that to your advantage. Research suggests that we love it simply because it feels good and it gives us a buzz. The beauty of this is really listening, because it can provide you with the most amazing insights and help you gain an advantage when planning and growing your consulting business. Instead of just creating a dream client profile on paper, speak to real people, and you can do this with past and present clients too, as well as new connections.
What is it that you really want to know?
What could you get their opinion on?
You’ll discover what they have in common and where they are so that you can position your brand in the best possible way and tailor your marketing comms and content by creating the perfect landing page and digital products. And we can help you with that, whether it’s making a useful checklist or a handy workbook. And you can store all the information in a client database or create a survey to help you at this crucial stage.
Feel confident approaching potential consulting clients
The result of doing all the groundwork should have you feeling really inspired, and you’ll be able to move forward with so much confidence that you’ll positively shine!
You will also save time by getting to know who your clients are, and you may even see new patterns or trends emerging. If you’re struggling to connect the dots here, turn it around to align your passion, skills, knowledge, and experience with your dream clients. We’ve created this detailed blog to help you find your niche and pick your speciality.
Getting consulting clients is exciting, and we promise you that it’s not as scary as you think, especially when you’ve done the research and got the right support, network and tools in place – which we have thoughtfully created for you already. Ta-dah!
Network to plant relationships with prospect consulting clients
Nothing beats face to face interaction. Approach networking events to sow the seeds, not to collect contacts. If you want to make meaningful connections online, take the stress out of ‘cold’ contacting people by taking a similar approach to networking and using it as a chance to research and build genuine connections. You could even use your own network to make new connections or get referrals.
A study by Forbes listed the top benefits of in-person meetings instead of networking by technology. The top benefits were:
- Building stronger, more meaningful business relationships (85%)
- Better ability to read body language and facial expressions (77%)
- Ability to bond with co-workers/clients and more social interaction (75%)
- Allows for more complex strategic thinking (49%)
- Better environment for tough, timely decision-making (44%)
- Less opportunity for unnecessary distractions (40%)
- Leads to higher-quality decision making (39%)
- Easier to focus (38%)
- Fewer disruptions and delays (23%)
When you’re armed with a purpose and a set of questions you really want to know the answers to, you can make the most of these (sometimes awkward) situations.
How to Get More Consulting Clients
Don’t forget about old leads or past connections
Reach out and reintroduce yourself or reconnect with them, and use this as an opportunity to do some more research and find out if they need any support, share some client feedback and results with them or offer a valuable digital product.
A collaborative consulting approach
This tends to get overlooked but it’s one of the most enjoyable ways to grow your reach and meet clients’ needs. Instead of competing, build meaningful relationships with other coaches, consultants or people that compliment your business, to give your clients the best possible experience. You’ll have creative thinking and brainstorming partner(s) to work with, and you can cross-pollinate your marketing and build a trusted network.
Make social media work for your consulting business
Social media makes it pretty easy to find and connect with people. And doing that authentically, by talking to them about their passion and vision, is an opportunity not to be missed. You can connect with your ideal consulting clients by simply having a chat with them, and this gives you two advantages, even if they’re not looking to work with a consultant right now!
- You will build a real connection with a person, and they will remember you in future.
- You will be able to understand and get to know your ideal consulting clients on a deeper level.
Plus, in real-life networking is slowly coming back! Networking is an essential aspect of business, but many professionals are still skeptical or reluctant to network, even after knowing how crucial networking is to success.
Obviously, we’ve had no choice but to network online over the past couple of years. For some people, this was ideal and has been a great way to practice the art of networking. But it’s actually much harder to network online; yes, you have more reach, but it also takes longer to form a genuine relationship and get past the spammy messages.
LinkedIn is a really good place to start when it comes to social media and online networking. It might not be the biggest, with 810 million users, compared to Facebook’s 3 billion, but it’s a growing and changing platform that’s specifically business-focused. LinkedIn Groups are becoming more popular as a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share experiences, insights, look for guidance, and make valuable connections. If you’re actively looking for consulting clients, think about what they’ll be interested in and where they will be.
Marketing your consulting business: Communicate with purpose
This is such a big topic, but right now, the only things you need to think about are your current marketing efforts and what is and isn’t working. Take a look at your research and conversations with your ideal clients. What would be the most effective way to reach them? What do they need/want?
Don’t spread yourself too thinly because marketing communication and content is (literally) a full-time job, so keep it really simple, and focus your time, energy and money on the things that will make a difference. If you don’t understand Instagram or TikTok, no problem. Feel more comfortable with Facebook and LinkedIn (see the previous section), great. Invest wisely here if you want real results, unless you feel confident and want to spend time doing things like ads and reels.
Another aspect of marketing to think about is email marketing; yep, emails are still going strong! Do you have a mailing list you can nurture and utilize? If not, then now might be the time to start building one because, like you, 4.3 billion people start the day by checking their email. And you’re not at the mercy of the algorithm, which is a huge bonus. Your list is yours, and what better way to connect with people than through their inbox. An informative and interesting bi-weekly email might be exactly the kind of thing potential leads want to hear about from you. Emails, like blogs, demonstrate your knowledge, experience and passion for business, especially when they are written with your ideal client in mind. They become instantly valuable!
You can find more resources here. Don’t forget keep checking the blog for new articles every week.
With a free Paperbell account, you can manage everything seamlessly, from onboarding clients, scheduling appointments, creating forms, keeping all your notes in one place, to setting up invoices and contracts, and so much more.