1. When approaching someone for the first time looking for a potential client, do not ask for their help or for a job, ask them for advice. Although there are some charitable folks out there who like to help people, everyone loves to give advice. You can accomplish the same thing you would by asking for help, simply by posing your question in the form of asking for advice.
2. Make the advantages of your services easy to understand. Be clear and concise whenever you are communicating the features and benefits of your services. Be sure to explain what it is that you can do, and more importantly, why your client will benefit from securing your services.
3. Set yourself apart are through great service. Always treat the customer as #1. Be willing to go the extra mile for your customers. This will garner you more hat you ill ever know in the realm of word-of-mouth referrals.
4. Work for referrals. Word of mouth is the least expensive, most effective way to get new business.
5. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. You know what you do well, and you should capitalize on that. At first it may be necessary to take jobs that you would rater not be doing, but you will find that shortly after, if you do the footwork, word of mouth, as well as other forms of advertising will carry you to a point where you can pick and choose your clients. Pick and choose well
6. Just as customers screen you, you should decide who you want to work for. If you have the opportunity to do so (i.e.: enough business), screen your clients.
7. Never sell, help people buy. No one likes to be sold to, but its all in the delivery (see tip #1). When you honestly put your clients interests above your own, you will become a better consultant, a better partner, and a better team member for your client. When you put the customer first, you earn a long-term loyalty that is an order of magnitude more profitable than a one time quick sale, no matter how large that one sale would be.
8. Use online marketing as much as possible. Dollar for dollar, the Internet is the most cost effective method of advertising. Start with a web site, but don’t stop there. Targeted e-mail marketing (not unsolicited, untargeted spam) can work wonders for all kinds of businesses. Internet message boards are an awesome vehicle for homegrown grassroots guerilla marketing. For the cost of a broadband Internet connection, you will have an entire planet of net users to get the word out to, all it takes is a little experience, and a little skill. 9. Partner with other businesses that serve your market. This can be especially effective when you have two up-and-coming startups who service similar, yet not competitive markets. It can also be helpful to talk to people working for established companies that serving the demographic you wish to reach.
10. Create free publicity for yourself whenever possible. Even if it means giving away some of your work for free. There are times when 2 birds in the bush are worth more than one in the hand.
11. Shift the risk to yourself and you will profit. A realistic guarantee makes it safe for potential customers/clients to try your services. Very few people will take advantage of a generous guarantee compared to the extra business it can generate.
12. Be personable. To build relationships you have to build a personal connection with people. It is critical to be personable without being phony.
13. Be opportunistic. A career as a consultant means having to be on your toes and on the lookout for opportunities whenever they may arise. Always be prepared to do business in a different way and accept things as they come to you. While you are paying attention to every possible way to advantage yourself also make sure you are
14. Flexible. Flexibility is a core quality of all successful consultants. While you cannot be everything to everybody, it is important some times to be as much as you can be at any given time. Consultants are not hired on as extraneous staff for just in case scenarios. Consultants are hired because they are needed right now because they are the cream of the crop. Consultants get things done and they get it done yesterday.
15. Don’t be too proud to give your work away. There will be times, especially near the beginning of your career that you may find the need to work a little overtime for free, or perhaps even give away an entire project or two. While giving away your skills may not seem like the most cost effective thing to do with your time, if you are opportunistic and have the insight to know when a little freebie here could potentially mean a lot of paying work at a later time, it will definitely pay off.