I frequently get asked how I acquire new clients. And, I always stumble on the answer because I have no definitive answer. New business comes from many different sources – Elance, Craig’s List, LinkedIn, my blog, and most often through referral from current and existing clients.
That being said, I’ve obtained a considerable amount of business from simply serendipitous encounters communicating with people on the phone, in person, and online. I don’t really look at the concept of talking about my business as selling. Rather, I inform others about what I do, and if they have a need for it, they’ll let me know. And, they often do.
Why? Well, I think there are two reasons. First, it’s amazing how much demand there is out there for good writing. There’s a never ending need for marketing and PR content that keeps me very busy. But, more importantly, I love what I do, and this helps me make connections with others. People want to talk to others who are enthusiastic. And, I want to always be approachable and meet others.
I don’t save my business development activities solely for networking events. In fact, I keep formalized networking to a few strategic groups because I don’t particularly want to sell my services in a room with five other marketing and public relations professionals. Instead, I think I’m more likely to obtain a new client by striking up a conversation with someone at the grocery store or Starbucks as I sip my Venti iced tea (Yes, I write about Starbuck’s often hoping that they’ll fund my daily habit because of the free advertising that I give them in this blog. Wishful thinking!).
My point is that new opportunities are everywhere if you open yourself up to them. I don’t make myself unapproachable perpetually rushing to a meeting just to become a rockstar networker at an industry event or show. Rather, I want to have the time to discover those surprise opportunities like when the manager at Chik-Fil-A wanted my business card after my sons and I dressed bovine-like for Cow Appreciation Day. She took our photo for her Facebook page, and of course, I mentioned to her that I do lots of social media work for clients. Hey, when you can get a new customer dressed like a cow, you can get one anywhere.