You’ve gone it alone, set your new company up and have bagged a few clients; self-employment seems to be working for you, but where will you turn to in order to find new business? It’s not as simple as posting your services on the Internet, as there will be hundreds of other people offering the exact same packages as you, so how do you plan to track down and chase new clients that will keep coming to you?
We aren’t trying to scare you, after all, we think self-employment is fantastic and seek to support any and all people that have made the brave decision to give it a go, but in order for you to stay successful, we want you to be thinking about all the facets that could bring about stumbling blocks and netting valuable clients and high-value contracts is one such issue.
We have compiled a list of fantastic resources for seeking out new work, so take a look and see how many you are already using and which you could embrace in the future.
Networking – A word that strikes fear into the hearts of so many self-employed people, especially those that have been in their industry for a number of years and favour more ‘old school’ methods of client retention, networking doesn’t have to be your worst enemy. In fact, it could be your best client finding resource!
Be sure that you have a good online presence, in that you have an up to date website that is easy to navigate, positive client reviews and good quality pictures of you and your work. From here, it can be as simple as directing potential new clients to your online profiles and waiting for them to get in touch regarding any contracts that could be suitable for you. All it takes is that initial contact, introduction and virtual handshake and you could be welcoming another customer to your client base!
Cold-calling – A less popular option these days, cold-calling can be seen as a nuisance, but it is still a viable method for contacting potential new clients. We suggest that if this is a method you want to employ, that you act with discretion and subtlety. Send out an up to date CV to people you would like to work with, accompanied by a well-written and concise letter and follow up with a phone call, but leave it at that. Consistent ‘badgering’ will not normally result in a positive outcome, so try to have some restraint and professional decorum!
Register with agencies – Until you have clients coming to you independently, working through recruitment agencies can be a great way to get guaranteed work and a valuable networking opportunity. Many companies will seek to secure the services of a contractor independently, but be aware that most agencies will have a strict ‘do not approach’ strategy in place, with a non-negotiable time period needing to elapse before you can work with someone they introduced you to.
Company recruitment pages – When scouting around to find potential companies to work with, don’t forget to click on their ‘vacancies’ web pages, as contracting opportunities are frequently advertised there. This can help to make your initial approach far more targeted, rather than a generic introduction, especially if you can quote a vacancy reference number in your email. Companies are often to keen to work with people that take a genuine interest in them and what they do, so by taking the time to really understand an organisation, have a good look around their website and respond directly to vacancies, you will stand out from competitors who have failed to invest as much effort.
Job fairs – We know what you’re thinking; “aren’t job fairs for people just starting out or with no experience?” The simple answer is no. We like to think of jobs and career fairs as fantastic places to meet likeminded people who could have more contacts than you, so be sure to head down to any local events, armed with a stack of business cards and introduce yourself. Better still, become an exhibitor at an event. You’d be surprised how many people will take a business card of flyer and forget that they have, until the day they discover it and remember how well you came across and that they have a contract you could be suitable for.
Vacancies websites – There are a host of amazingly simple to use vacancies websites out there, which can show you every local, national and even international job posting that is suitable for someone with your skillset and in most cases, all you have to do to apply for consideration is send your current cv. How simple is that? With one click of a button, you could send your CV to thousands of potential employers, but we think the key to being remembered is what you do next. Rather than sitting back and waiting to hear, we suggest that you follow up with an email to ask if your application has been received and if they need any extra information about you. This extra attention to detail will instantly make you more memorable and appear far more diligent and keen, so don’t overlook it!
Word of mouth – We’ve saved what we consider to be the most important resource for last, as customer satisfaction really talks. Nothing quite puts new clients at ease like the recommendation of a trusted colleague or friend who has already had a great experience, so always ask clients that are delighted with your work to talk about you and pass your details on to anyone that might be interested. You could even introduce a referral scheme, where a new client and the referrer get a discounted rate for using your services. You get a repeat client and a new one, while they both get some money off your top class services. Now that is what we call a win-win!
The onus really is on you to be proactive in your search for ongoing work and though it can seem time consuming, what takes a few hours a week in admin, could produce years of regular contracts. Remember to stay aware of current trends in your industry, to always follow up initial contact and to follow through on agreed initiatives, such as putting together pricing proposals and work schedules. These tasks, coupled with a tenacious and determined attitude to securing new work will yield results that many can only dream of!