First clients are always special.
Often very symbolic of the taking off your business, they sometimes may be not so easy to find tough.
Indeed, once you have become a freelancer, what could be more frustrating than not being able to offer your time and skills to the business individuals and companies that need you right away?
Once you meet and work with your first clients, it feels like something clicks and you’ll be ready to develop your freelance business just like the super determined entrepreneur that you deeply are 😉
So depending on the type of freelancer you are or the kind of freelance business you run, there can be many ways, techniques and strategies to attract your first clients.
Promoting a physical shop or even an online shop is for example not the same as exposing yourself as a services provider.
Such differences also apply if you want to work for one company only and not for several clients.
Do you lack inspiration on how you could attract your first clients as a ZZP?
Here we provide you with a list of tips and guidelines to help you meet your very first customers.
- Activate All your networks
By “networks” we do not mean “social networks” only.
LinkedIn can be quite powerful but if you want to better your odds at finding your first clients, you’d rather talk to everyone you know instead of sending out just a short notice to all your Lkdn contacts.
Relatives, friends, friends of friends, business partners, colleagues, previous employers or clients, diverse acquaintances etc.
Frankly, it can be anyone who triggers your freelance business take off: we often underestimate the word of mouth and how extremely powerful it can be.
OK you always need some luck but connections can occur very quickly when you actually let people know what you do.
For example, you tell a friend about your new freelance business, he/she answers you that as it happens, last week he/she was attending a trade show where he/she met that person from company Y who is looking for similar services as yours. Eureka!
So just talk to as many people as you can because “you just can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards.“
This means that once you will have acquired a few clients, be on a growth path and see much more clearly how to develop your freelance business further, you will look back, remember how you managed to meet and convince your very first client(s) and understood how you really got where you are now.
Then, spread the word enthusiastically and without boundaries 🙂
- Join a ZZP community
Getting involved in a ZZP community that speaks your language or has the same areas of interests or works in your sector is another great advice we would like you to give you.
Check out our ZZP community page to see if there is currently a community that would fit you and you are also welcome to join ours on Facebook.
People tend to do business with people they know, like and trust.
Joining a freelancers’ community will not only enable you to promote yourself and meet new people just like you but it will also significantly boost your motivation.
Because it’s not just about networking with a few freelancers that could become future clients or business partners. Instead, it is about being part of a group whose members face common challenges as yours, figure out how you can help each other, attend internal workshops, ask your questions or answer some of others, learn new things, discover new kinds of freelance businesses etc.
In fact, joining a ZZP community and actively participating in it can even be a lot of fun and lead you to build new friendships.
- Go to local business meet ups
Do you know Meetup?
When you are new in a city or are even just looking to meet new people or try new activities, Meetup can be a great means for all of this.
In a word, Meetup allows you to meet people to do things that matter to you and them. You can join groups or create your own one to meet people near you with common interests.
Isn’t it fantastic?
A lot of meetups happen weekly and some of them are bi-weekly or monthly.
Here is their specific page for freelance meetups in Amsterdam on which you will definitely find the group that suits you best.
To find new friends, your first clients, or proper business partners, Meetup helps you meet the people you are looking for.
- Search on Google or rank your business on top positions
Imagine you are a consultant that has already helped a few companies in some very specific business sectors: why not trying to get in touch with companies from those same business sectors in the Netherlands?
A quick searches and a few listings after you could quickly know who your potential targets can be.
And if you want yourself to have notoriety on Google and rank on the top positions for the specific services you propose or problems you solve, this is definitely a long-term and relevant strategy to attract clients.
If you have a small budget a great freelancer’s website, you could also run a quick ads campaign over a few months, see if you manage to attract clients efficiently and evaluate your ROI. This can be another clever way of using the power of Google.
- Join relevant Facebook groups and be active on them
If we just talked of Google, we logically can’t ignore Facebook.
Same principle: you are delivering services to a particular type of companies. Then just try to find Facebook groups by typing specific keywords in the search bar of your homepage that gather either potential clients or freelancers who are proposing similar services as you in order to network, form business partnerships or even just learn more about your own market.
- Search missions on a job portal.
If you are not sure to work for several clients or where to start as a freelancer in your sector, what you can do is to seek companies who are looking for freelancers like you on job portals.
And there are many!
Why? Because hiring a freelancer is great in terms of cost – no charges, employee insurance, pension plan for the company hiring you – and quite flexible compared to a temporary contract.
Therefore, looking on job portals like indeed.nl will enable you to find the exact mission(s) and client(s) that you need to start.
- Find business partners
Another great way to find your first clients is to ally with business partners that have complementary skills as yours.
This way he/she can recommend you to his/her clients and the other way around is also valid. Clients receive a full set of services when they need it both from you and your business partner(s).
This not only helps you maximize the satisfaction of your clients but also gain new deals and build deep and efficient collaborations which ultimately facilitate your work and allows you to scale your freelance business.
- Collaborate with competitors
Why should we see competitors as a threat only?
Competitors can be extremely valuable!
First, they are always a great source of information and insights for your market and freelance business.
How they position themselves, how they sell, the business practices and processes they adopt, the methodology they apply etc. Everything your competitors are doing, they are doing it for a reason.
By watching the competition closely you will continuously learn a lot on your market and freelance business.
Second, not all your competitors are real competitors.
If both the demand and offer on your market is big, it could be smart to work in partnership with competitors who manage to attract a decent part of that demand but who just do not have the time to handle all requests.
Some of them would also be very delighted to be able to just delegate a good part of their business to you if you manage to maintain a high customer satisfaction.
So to sum up – and you already know that but – the world is slightly more complicated that the good vs. the bad.
Some “competitors” would actually be delighted to partner up with you and find strategic ways of cooperating to keep attracting more customers and ultimately get a greater income.
In a word: be close to your friends, closer to your enemies 😉
And you? How did you find your first clients? Share your best tips!