10 Ways to Get New Consulting Clients

By MBO Partners | August 16, 2022

consultants at table

Key Points

Networking is a necessary part of landing your first clients as an independent professional.

Joining an online marketplace is also a great way to let potential clients know you are available for work.

Referrals are a great way to get introduced to a new client.

Landing your first client is one of the most intimidating aspects of going independent and starting your own business. Visions of cold calling and repeated rejection can quickly cloud your thoughts and worries about being able to find any clients at all can feel paralyzing.  

These fears can sometimes scare potentially successful independent consultants away from venturing out on their own. Fortunately, the process of finding clients doesn’t have to be off-putting. Here are ten achievable steps you can take to get new clients.

1. Network, Your Own Way

There’s no way around it. Networking is a necessary part of landing your first clients as an independent professional. But the good news is, you don’t have to attend early morning networking breakfasts to hand out business cards if you don’t want to. 

Networking can mean many different things. While attending events designed for meeting other people is one avenue, you could also join a professional association or volunteer for a good cause. Networking simply means getting to know others who could be potential clients—it doesn’t matter how you go about doing it. 

Try this: Networking Tips to Boost Small Business Growth 

2. Grow Your Social Networks

Another way to get clients is to build your online presence. Start a social media presence to reach out to your online audience. There are only so many hours in a day for networking and only so many people you can meet in person. Social networks are a great way to interact with followers and potential clients online. Get creative about marketing your services with videos, webinars, interactive polls and more.

3. Create a Professional Website

Your website should provide information about your business that prospective clients need to know. Search engines should be able to easily find your website. This means that clients will be able to find it as well when they search for keywords related to the services you offer.  You can also use your website as a place to showcase your expertise and knowledge through a personal blog. 

Check out: 5 Reasons Consultants Need a Website to Be Competitive 

4. Join a Marketplace

Joining an online marketplace is also a great way to let potential clients know you are available for work. Marketplaces like MBO’s allow you to find projects you’re interested in or match with projects based on your skillset. Building out a profile on a marketplace also allows hiring managers to match your experience with available projects.

5. Partner with Other Independent Professionals

When you first start out as an independent contractor, you may not yet have your own audience to market to. However, to get clients, you can borrow someone else’s. Find an influencer who is not a direct competitor, but whose audience has interests that intersect with the interests of your ideal audience. Ask that influencer if you can write a guest blog for their website, or if you can set up a display in their store. 

The fact that an established business thinks highly enough of you to partner with you will give their customers the sense that they can trust you, and the partnership will help boost your prospecting efforts. By partnering with an influencer, you can also gain valuable advice, moral support, and you’ll likely learn a lot from someone who has an established business.

6. Ask for a Referral

Referrals are a great way to get introduced to a new client. A potential client is much more likely to take advice from someone they know and trust rather than trying their luck on someone entirely new. To ask for a referral, approach a client you’ve successfully worked with before. Be sure to ask at the right time—generally near the end of a project—be sure to thank them and offer a referral or incentive in return. 

Here’s how: How to Get Client Referrals 

 7. Try Content Marketing

Content marketing can be a very helpful strategy to attract new clients. Publishing content can show that you are a though leader in your industry and show potential clients that you are knowledgeable. Content can range from posting a weekly blog post on your website, to creating a series of instructional reels on Instagram, to hosting a webinar.

8. Price Your Services Right

Making sure your services are priced appropriately will help ensure you are competitive within your industry. Research your competitors to see what they are offering and what their bill rates are. How do these numbers compare to how you are pricing your services? The right bill rate should find a balance between being more than a client is willing to pay and underselling your services.  

Try this: 3 Ways to Calculate Your Billing Rate for Consulting Services 

9. Tap into Your Local Community

Yes, you can work from anywhere as an independent professional but seeking out clients in your local community can also be a helpful strategy. Put an ad in the local paper or offer to write a Q&A or advice column. Meet new people by offering to teach a free class or workshop, or volunteer somewhere local where your services might be needed.

10. Be Patient, and Keep Trying

One of the worst—but also most common—mistakes that new independent consultants make is to give up too soon. Finding those first clients takes time. Part of the prospecting process is being patient and waiting for the fruits of your efforts to appear. 

Think of every hour you spend networking, building your online presence, and partnering with influencers as an investment in your business. Just as every ‘no’ brings you closer to your first ‘yes,’ every ounce of effort you put into marketing yourself will eventually pay off. Have the patience to see it through. 

Learn More: 5 Creative Client Engagement Strategies

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