As a self-employed professional, a big part of your job is selling your consulting services. If that sounds like something that doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t worry. Finding work often comes down to the planning and effort you put into it. If you’ve already committed to building your own business, you have what it takes.
So, how do you sell a service? Target marketing efforts to the right people, keep your skills up-to-date, and take time to network with peers. Focus on each of these steps one at a time. Refine how you execute each to best fit your business needs before moving on to the next. A methodical process will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and help you learn along the way.
1. Target Your Marketing efforts
You won’t get far in selling your services if you’re not targeting the right people. To identify the audience you should be focusing on, start by making a list of potential clients. What are their needs? How likely are these people to engage your services? Try and think of the people who will be the best ideal fit for what you are selling. This is your target audience.
If you’re having trouble narrowing down your target audience, reach out and have some informal conversations with some people who you think might fall under this umbrella. Conversations can be a helpful way to understand ongoing issues within a certain industry. And, they might spark some ideas about how to better target your services.
Read next: How to Determine Your Target Clients as a Consultant
2. Update Your Skills
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential client—would you want to engage the most knowledgeable expert you can find, or someone who knows what they are doing but hasn’t put in effort to update their skills? Part of your job in selling your services is convincing clients that you have the credentials and experience to fulfill their needs.
As an independent professional, you may be competing against larger, more senior businesses. Show clients why you are valuable. Certifications are one way to keep your skills up-to-date and show clients that you are committed to remaining current in your line of work. A certification can differentiate you from your competition, increase your earning potential, and boost your professional credibility. Other professional development options include taking an online training course, attending industry webinars, connecting with industry experts online, or attending networking events.
Read next: 8 Ways to Keep Your Knowledge and Skills Current
3. Revisit Your Marketing Plan
Take some time to really dig into your current marketing plan, or make one if you don’t currently have one. Define your brand, build your presence on social media, and develop content to grow your professional presence. All of your marketing efforts should reflect what you want clients to see. For example, the way you describe your business should be consistent on your professional website, social media channels, and LinkedIn profile.
Take a look at your professional website. Are visitors guided through a story about who you are and what you do? Does your content build trust, educate, inform, and convert potential leads? If not, update your site to include fresh content, a description of your core services, and some engaging visual elements. Follow the same review and updating process for other lead generation systems you have set up—review emails or newsletters you send out, your LinkedIn profile, and your social media channels.
Read next: 8 Effective Marketing Strategies for Consultants
4. Tap into Your Network
Networking is one of the most effective ways to make your business visible to a variety of people. Your personal and extended network can be reliable resources for finding work. Talk to existing connections about the work you are looking for and what you can offer. Ask if they can refer you to someone who may be interested in what you do. By being proactive, you can build your network and line up future work.
As you dive into networking, consider how you are building relationships rather than just having transactional conversations. The more effort you put into actually getting to know someone, the more you will both get out of the relationship down the road. There are many different ways to go about networking including connecting through social media, attending networking events, or acting as a mentor or finding a mentor.
Read next: How to Network with Your Peers