You decided to launch your own consulting gig to put your expertise to good use — congratulations! The job outlook for consultants is expected to increase by 14% through 2028, proving there is plenty of opportunity in this growing field.
While there are increasing opportunities for consultants, you’ll need a steady stream of clients to sustain a consulting business.
Let’s walk through fast tips to help you land more consulting clients.
1. Identify your ideal client.
Before you set out to sign more clients, you first need to understand who your ideal client is. List the key qualities and attributes your ideal client has. This will help shape your client outreach strategy to ensure you’re getting in front of the right audience. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Based on your area of expertise, are you more likely to support individual clients or organizations?
- If you plan to help businesses, what size companies can afford your rates?
- If you plan to work with individuals, what job title does your ideal client have?
- What is your ideal project?
- Are they located in a specific geographic region?
- What problems are they looking to solve?
2. Know your unique value proposition.
By now, you should have an area of expertise identified. But what do you offer that makes you stand out from the other consultants in your niche?
Mark Holmes, a highly acclaimed consultant and author, says, “A value proposition is in its purest form when it’s about the customer. It’s not about you. It’s not about your product. It’s not about your service.” Your unique value proposition is what you can do for your customers in conjunction with your product offering.
Consider areas you naturally excel in. Are you incredibly organized? Then perhaps your unique value proposition is that you help your clients implement scalable business systems.
Are you a natural people-person who builds cohesive teams? Then consider marketing your team-building abilities to organizations that can benefit from them.
Your unique value proposition should be your key selling point that drives discovery conversations with new prospects. When you are crystal-clear on what you have to offer and can convey this to the right prospect, you’ll be able to sign the clients who need your services most.
3. Share helpful content related to your niche.
After identifying your ideal client, you should have a good idea of the kind of problems or obstacles your services can help them overcome. Establish yourself as an authority in your niche by sharing content that speaks to the problems your ideal client is likely to face.
David Dulany, founder of the research and advisory firm Tenbound, states, “With content prospecting, there’s two sides of the equation. One, there’s a hunger for relevant content that can help people to get better at their jobs. And at the same time we need to have something fresh in our messaging to be able to reach out with. So this gives you a fresh approach to go out and talk to people.”
Now, when I say helpful content — I don’t mean give away keys to the castle. There should be certain aspects of your knowledge that are only available to your paying clients. However, if you share information that helps your ideal client or audience solve a minor problem, you can start building trust with an engaged audience.
This gives you leverage to promote yourself in an honest way to an audience that is ready to begin working with you.
4. Ask for referrals.
If you already have satisfied clients from previous projects, don’t be afraid to ask for a referral. Clients who had a positive experience working with a consultant, are usually willing to refer services to another contact, however, they may not think to do it voluntarily. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Unsure of how to ask? Try one of these prompts:
- “Do you know of any other companies that could benefit from my services?”
- “I’m so glad you’re happy with the work we did on your project. I would appreciate it if you would share my name with any contacts you know who may be interested.”
- “It has been a pleasure working on this project with you. I’m always looking for more great clients — do you know anyone who may be interested in my services?”
5. Invest in paid advertising.
If you’re looking to quickly get the word out about your consulting business, paid advertising can be a helpful approach. With Facebook Ads, you can create hyper-targeted campaigns to reach audiences who may be interested in working with you.
6. Attend meetups and events related to your ideal client’s industry.
Networking is alive and well, so keep an eye on events related to your ideal client’s niche. Attending the same events as your ideal clients is a great way to make connections quickly, leading to new clients and referrals.
7. Partner with other consultants or firms.
If you have a very specific or niche set of services, partnering with another consultant or firm that offers a different set of services can be a beneficial strategy. By teaming up with another consultant and working together to “bundle” your services, you can form a mutually beneficial relationship. Working with a partner can introduce you to a broader client base, which can lead to more contracts in the future and a larger referral network.
8. Join LinkedIn groups related to your ideal client’s interests.
There are over 590 million active users on LinkedIn and two million active groups. The average LinkedIn member has joined seven groups. With these figures in mind, it’s pretty safe to say a LinkedIn group related to your ideal client’s niche exists, and that people with qualities of your ideal client are there waiting to hear from you.
Use the LinkedIn search function to find groups related to your area of expertise, and join them. Look to build genuine connections by commenting on posts, and sharing relevant content to continue fostering connections that can lead to clientele.
9. Follow-up with old leads.
Do you have leads that didn’t sign on the dotted line? That’s ok — the timing of your initial conversation may not have been right.
We spoke with Will Barron, managing director and founder of Salesman.org, for his perception on the matter: “Old leads are people that haven’t been nurtured and looked after.” When you’re looking to sign on new clients, reach back out to previous contacts to gauge where they are in their business, and share some of the results you’ve had with other happy clients. This keeps you top of mind for this contact so they can revisit the idea of working with you.
10. Use online job listings.
You can use an online listing such as Credo to be matched with prospects who are looking to work on specific projects related to digital marketing. Though using this type of service may not allow the flexibility of signing your own client, it can be a great way to get in touch with clients who are ready to get to work.
Use a Winning Strategy to Win More Clients
The future is bright for those in the consulting field, especially when they have a game plan to back them up. Use these tips to find the right clients, and you’re well on your way.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.