When I was first starting out as a freelance web writer, the thought of getting clients was completely intimidating.
I pictured having to get on the phone with some big-shot corporate marketing executive, who would sneer at my inexperience and tell me I was a fraud.
Of course, the reality was and is so far from this!
It’s true that to get clients you’ll probably have to talk to people you don’t know. But, the easiest way to build your business is by establishing meaningful connections with others, starting with people you know and like.
By doing this, you expand your network of people you like and have shared interests with… so it’s much easier to start a conversation about doing business together.
That’s why this month, I’m going to challenge you to accomplish a simple but powerful goal: Make one meaningful business connection.
Today, we’ll go over a few simple steps to get there, including reaching out on social media, attending strategic events, and reconnecting with previous clients.
Let’s get to it!
Step #1: Inform Your Network
A 2020 Statista survey of 6,000 experienced freelancers revealed an eye-opening statistic — 46% of freelancers get paid work through their friends and family.
This means essentially one out of every two freelancers has successfully tapped into their inner circle to get a new client.
This begs the question… do your friends and family know what you do? And, do they understand it well enough to pass on a relevant opportunity should it come their way?
Let’s take care of this in the first step of this challenge, and let your social networks know what you’re up to.
Facebook is the perfect place for this kind of friendly networking, since it’s where your friends and family are probably spending a lot of their time. If your network is mainly on a different platform, such as Instagram, then feel free to go for that option instead.
Make at least one compelling, public post about what you do and what kinds of businesses you help. Better yet, weave organic updates about your business into your Facebook feed, whether it’s posting a picture of your co-working space, telling a funny story about your web-writing life, or something else.
The key here is to make these updates as authentic and natural as possible — like you’re sharing a tidbit about your life at a backyard cookout. (For more tips on how to make engaging social media posts, check out last month’s challenge about launching your social media strategy.)
Once you’ve started informing your network, then it’s time for Step #2…
Step #2: Use LinkedIn to Establish New Connections
While Facebook is the perfect medium for getting the word out about your business among friends and family, LinkedIn is an excellent spot for building new business connections more directly.
This isn’t about sending random solicitations to people about your copywriting services. Instead, focus on building meaningful connections with people who share a common background, values, and goals with you.
For this step, do some research on business owners or marketing managers who work at companies you’d love to work with.
Follow them and their companies on LinkedIn. And, if they ever give you a peek into their values, new business endeavors, or business problems… it’s time to act.
Send the contact a connection request, including a note about what you appreciated or thought was interesting in their posts.
For instance, if you want to tap into common values, you could say something as simple as:
Hi [First Name], I loved your recent post about [Topic]. I absolutely agree that [Point they made expressed in your own words]. I’ve been following your business for a while, and love the work you’re doing. I thought it would make sense to connect here, since we seem to share a lot of common values and views.
Thanks very much!
– [Your Name]
There are many possible variations on this message. The goal is to make your note meaningful and personal to the recipient. Chances are, the person will be impressed you’ve been paying attention, and will have a good feeling about you.
Step #3: Attend an Event or Conference
There are few better ways to make new meaningful business connections than to attend events that bring like-minded people together.
The best events are ones where many of your ideal clients will be attending, such as trade conferences. If you can attend one or two of these a year, you’ll meet dozens of excellent potential clients.
If trade conferences are too pricey, or they aren’t happening any time soon, do some research on other free or low-cost event options. Keep in mind that online events are also a legitimate option, especially if your budget is tight and time-limited!
Types of free and low-cost events you could consider:
Events through your college’s alumni network: If you went to college or university, your alumni network may offer free or affordable networking events you can take advantage of. It’s smart to attend these events, because the people you talk to will have a shared background with you, making it much easier to form a genuine connection.
Free events through com: Meetup.com is a great website offering all kinds of events, both for hobbyists and career-minded folks. To find relevant events, input your location, plus a term like “networking,” “business,” or “marketing,” and see if any relevant events come up. If you create a free account, you can indicate your interests and join groups, so you’ll be notified about opportunities via email.
Webinars with your ideal clients: Many businesses host or participate in webinars to generate leads and establish themselves as authorities in their industries. Attending these webinars is a fantastic way to get to know what your prospective clients are thinking about and working on. As a result, you’ll be able to reach out and offer help relevant to their needs.
As with the previous steps, don’t attend networking events with the goal of telling everyone how great you are. Go with an open heart and mind, simply with the goal of making meaningful connections. Listen to others. And, of course, share relevant information about yourself and your business as the opportunities arise.
Step #4: Reconnect With an Old Prospect
It’s easy to get so focused on attracting shiny, new potential clients that you forget to follow up with prospects you already have.
This is such a missed opportunity, since any positive connection you’ve made in the past is a perfect opportunity to pursue a deeper connection.
How can you reconnect with an old prospect in a meaningful way? Think of how you can offer them value and show you’re paying attention.
Here are a few ideas for ways to make meaningful connection with prospects you already know:
Give them an idea for a marketing approach or campaign they may not have tried.
Provide a link to an article you think would be helpful for them.
Congratulate them on an achievement — maybe they’ve just launched a new product, or have started a new partnership.
When reconnecting with prospects, you want to come across as helpful, not pushy. You’re calm, you’re professional, and you’re there when they need you and are ready for you — that’s the impression you want to give.
Step #5: Keep at It
Keep at the four simple steps above, working on them a little bit each day, until you’ve made at least one meaningful connection during this month.
How do you know if it’s a meaningful connection?
This is subjective, of course. But, keep your eye out for cues — your prospect will probably sound happy to hear from you, may actively comment or react to your LinkedIn posts, and may even take the initiative to follow up with you. (If you’ve met them in person, it will likely be easier to make meaningful connections and will be more obvious when you’ve managed to do it.)
Once you’ve accomplished this, congratulations! You’ve completed the challenge.
Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to keep the conversations going, and to make connection-building a key part of your marketing strategy going forward.
Now, it’s your turn to tell me… are you committed to taking the challenge to make at least one meaningful business connection this month?
And, what have you found are the most effective ways to network with others and build meaningful connections?
Hop in the comment section below and tell us about it!