In an ideal world, you’d always have a steady flow of work waiting for you—that way, you don’t have to scramble when one project is over to find another to take its place.
But the truth is, we don’t live in an ideal world—and there are going to be times when you need to find a client fast. Maybe a project you had lined up fell through. Maybe you had to shell out serious cash for an unexpected expense. Or maybe an existing client terminated your contract early. Whatever the case may be, chances are, you’re going to find yourself in a situation at some point in your business where you need a client—and you need them NOW.
So what, exactly, do you do in that situation? What strategies can you use to find paying clients like, yesterday?
What Not To Do When Looking For Clients
Before we jump into what to do when you need to find clients quickly, let’s first cover what not to do—or, in other words, the strategies you want to avoid at all costs if you’re looking for clients.
1. Go Into Panic Mode
So the last thing you want to do if you’re in a time crunch to find clients? Panic.
Going into full-blown panic mode is only going to make the process of finding clients more difficult. You’re going to feel scattered, anxious, and unfocused—plus, your panicked desperation will come across to any potential clients you connect with (which can be seriously off-putting).
2. Throw A Pity Party On Social Media
One of the first places people go when they need to drum up business is social media. And while social media can certainly be a great tool to connect with potential clients, you’re never going to get anyone to work with you if you use it to throw yourself a pity party.
Airing your dirty laundry on social media and trying to get people to work with you out of sympathy (“I’m completely broke and need money to fix my car!”) is not only ineffective at generating business quickly, but it can actually hurt your chances of getting business in the long run; no one wants to work with someone who feels sorry for themselves.
3. Take Anything And Everything That Comes Your Way
When you need to generate business (and income) quickly, you might be tempted to accept any work that comes your way—even if it doesn’t pay much, even if it’s not the right fit for your skill set, even if it’s from a client who’s impossible to work with.
But taking those kinds of assignments—assignments driven by desperation—is rarely a good idea. You’ll end up filling your plate with work that a) you don’t enjoy, and b) doesn’t pay the bills. Plus, there’s opportunity cost—when you fill your plate with that kind of work, you don’t have the time or energy to pursue work you actually want.
How To Find Clients Fast
Alright, so now that you know what strategies to avoid when you’re trying to drum up business quickly, let’s talk about what strategies to embrace.
Here are three proven strategies you can find clients—and find them fast:
1. Leverage Your Network
The best business always comes from referrals. Reaching out to your network when you’re in a pinch—whether that’s past clients, colleagues, friends, family, or other freelancers—can be a great way to drum up business quickly.
The key to success with leveraging your network successfully? Be authentic and offer value. Don’t just blast your entire network with a “Need some graphic design? I’m your person!” email. Instead, send thoughtful one-on-one communications and let people know you’re looking to connect with new clients. Offer them an incentive to refer business your way, whether that’s a free consultation or a discount code to know something off their next package, to sweeten the deal.
2. Hit The Job Boards
If you need to find a client fast, you should definitely seek out clients you know are actively searching for your services—and that’s where job boards come in.
There are a ton of great job boards out there for freelancers, including:
Job boards are great because you know the hiring company already needs whatever you’re selling—so all you have to do is convince them that you’re the best person for the job. Make sure your pitches showcase your experience, communicate real value, and are free of typos and mistakes (you’d be surprised how many people send applications riddled with grammatical errors!).
3. Cold Call/Email
Another way to potentially get clients—and get them fast? Cold calling—or, more likely in 2019, cold emailing.
Now, to be fair—this is a time-intensive strategy, and results aren’t guaranteed. But if you reach out to enough potential clients, chances are at least one of them is going to want to talk.
If you want to succeed with cold pitching business, you need to be targeted in your approach. Identify potential clients that would be a slam dunk for your services—then write a highly targeted letter of introduction that outlines who you are and what value you can add to their business.
And—most importantly—make sure to ask for their business somewhere in the email. Sending a cold pitch is great—but if you don’t actively ask to work with them, it’s not going to drive results.
How To Avoid Scrambling For Business
If you throw yourself behind these strategies, you should be able to get at least a client or two in a short time frame. But you don’t want to have always be on the feast or famine cycle—so let’s talk about how to make sure you never have to scramble for business again.
- ABP. ABP stands for “always be pitching.” Consistently marketing your business makes sure you always have leads in the pipeline—so if one client falls through, you have another waiting in the wings to take their place.
- Work on retainer. It can be hard to plan ahead when you’re working on one-off projects. If possible, move your business to a retainer model, where your clients sign multiple-month contracts. That way, you don’t have to try to find new clients every time a project ends.
- Build your network. As mentioned, there’s no better business than referral business. Taking the time to build your network—whether by joining a coworking space, going to networking events, or just expanding your social circle—is a must if you want to forge the connections you need to expand your business.
So, what do you do when you’ve got a potential lead? Here’s a look at how to present your work to clients and prospects for maximum impact.