As business owners we typically always have our eyes open and ears to the ground for new opportunities such as a new or potential clients to work with. Building new relationships with clients is key for continued success in business. I started CategoryCode in 2010 and worked as a freelance web designer and web developer for approx. 6-7 years prior. The relationships and clients I gained along the way have brought me to where I am today.
In order to grow and expand we need new clients. I can assume we all agree in saying that the best form of a new lead is a referral. People have a much higher probability of buying from you or working with you when they have been referred by someone they trust. This is key, the more relationships and more clients we have, the more opportunities we have for referrals!
Creating new relationships and generating business take many forms. When you gain someone’s trust, you have a much better chance of getting a referral.
At CategoryCode our largest source of work comes from referrals. The largest source of our referrals is our existing and past customers. We know that the more happy customers we have, the more referrals we have the opportunity to receive. I am sure this equation can be applied to almost every industry.
But getting your next client may not be as difficult as you thought. New clients and referrals may be right under your nose. Here are two of my personal examples both within the last 2 weeks.
Today I was shoveling the snow which is almost a daily activity in Edmonton. My neighbour was also shoveling his walks. We got to chatting and he asked me why my car is always home. I began to explain that I work from home. As most people do, he asked “What do you do”. This allowed me to explain that I run a Digital Marketing company where we build Websites and do Online Marketing.
It turns out his wife’s parents just started a limousine company and are looking to get a website built. This is fantastic, I explained I would provide him my business card and I’d be happy to sit down with them.
I am a fitness buff and a natural bodybuilder in my spare time and I workout each day. The gym happens to be a great place to network whether you’d like to believe it or not. (Note: I don’t recommend sitting and talking at the gym. There is a time and a place for it!)
This past week I was in the change room and another gentlemen sparked a conversation asking me about my diet and what I eat. I began to explain what I eat and how it is fairly easy to maintain since I work from home. Once again, this opened up the conversation about what I do. I explain we do marketing, etc. etc. It turns out he is a real estate agent and asked if we do websites and real estate marketing. It just so happens that we have had fantastic success in this industry.
Tips and Recommendations
Your potential clients may be in front of you but you have never taken the time to notice. Here are a few tips for tapping into existing opportunities.
Tip 1 – Be Friendly
This may sound like a no-brainer but being friendly is a fantastic way to meet people. If your neighbour is outside don’t be afraid to spark a conversation Get to know them and build a connection. You never know where it may go. If you simply keep to yourself all the time you may be missing out on opportunities. Once you have engaged in a conversation take note of our next 2 tips.
Tip 2 – Actively Listen and Ask Questions
Active listening is very important when talking with people. I would urge you to ask questions and then actively listen. If you are always doing the talking, you will not get to know them and will miss key things people tell you. By asking questions you can find out what they do, who they know, etc. and by listening actively you can pickup on key things and read between the lines. For example maybe they have a website and are currently working with a company but his body language suggests he is not happy. This provides an opportunity ask questions and learn more.
Tip 3 – People Hate Being “Sold”, get them to ask you
I suggest you work on your soft marketing skills if your not proficient at networking and conversing.
I also suggest creating some key conversation points. For example I have found that when I tell people I work from home or run my own business it typically results in the other person asking and wanting to know what I do. This provides a nice way to get them to ask me a question, allowing me to answer rather there question and eliminating a need to “sell”.
When someone does engage, make sure you can with few words effectively explain what do you. You don’t want to bore them, but you want them to be able to identify what do you.
What strategies do you use to find and engage new clients?