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Your Consulting Business: Growing Your Client Base

 

Steady work from a diverse client base is one of the key factors to growing a successful consulting business. It doesn't happen in the beginning, but your efforts will bare fruit in time if you're diligent in your approach. Growing your client base requires you to set aside time to expand your network and apply for contract jobs.

Landing Your First Client

To get the ball rolling, you need your first client, and it has to be someone willing to pay you for your services. Free consulting does not count as your first client, although offering free consultations is a great way to market your consulting business. There are people hidden in your current contacts who could be your first client, or at least lead you to one. Make a call to everyone you know, even if you don't think they need your help, such as:

  • Extended family
  • Former employers
  • Former co-workers
  • Group and club members
  • People you know at your local gym
  • Friends
  • Librarians
  • Business and community leaders
  • Journalists

The purpose of your call is to let people know that you're open for business. In your discussion, discern whether they are in need of your services by asking about the biggest challenges they face at work or at home. If it doesn't look like they are in need of your expertise at the moment, ask them for leads to others that could benefit from your consulting business. After you get the contact information of leads, ask the person to notify the lead that you'll be calling so that there are no surprises, and follow up the with the lead in a day or two.

Landing Different Types of Clients

It's hard to make a living serving only other work-at-home moms. Everyone is struggling together to meet their income needs and overcome economic challenges. If you want to grow your consulting business, you're going to have to work with different types of clients. Your business goal should be to land contracts or consulting jobs with a mix of large, medium-sized and small companies. Getting your foot in the door with a large company that has a budget to pay you a steady income can be challenging, but it can be done. Before approaching them, have the following ready to go:

  • A solid, free of grammatical errors and persuasive resume
  • Three references from reputable employers or clients that will impress companies
  • A professionally designed website, with informative articles and audio/visual presentations
  • Two excellent writing samples that highlight your consulting talents (hire a freelance editor if necessary)

You'll be competitive with these, but then you'll need to pass the speaking test. That's when a company representative schedules a call with you to interview you and speak further about the opportunity. What they're really doing is listening for competence, and testing your critical thinking abilities at the same time. Practice answering questions that you anticipate on the call ahead of time with someone you trust, even with another consultant in your network.

As you gain clients in your consulting business, you'll want to work on getting repeat business. It will help to sustain your business, but also working with the same clients increases the chances of them referring others to you.

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