Since I started my business four years ago, one thing I’m always doing is looking for new clients. And I’ve found them in some pretty unusual places! That’s why I’m always prepared to meet new clients when I leave the house. You never know who your next client, or next client referral, will be or where you’ll meet them.
You may find your next client while running errands, being in line at the grocery store, waiting in the doctor’s office, or picking up a prescription at Walgreens.
Here are the three strangest places that I’ve found new clients or client referrals.
1) Kids activities and clubs (playdates, kid’s school, and kid’s events)
When you have kids, a whole new world opens up. You begin having play dates and going to kid-centric events and places. You also meet a ton of people who you would have never met before simply because they are parents too.
Some of these connections may lead to future clients. They have for me!
Being an active part of my kids’ lives is important to me. I’ve never tried to network during playdates or school events, but I’ve had people interested in working with me after my business came up in small talk. After telling people what I do, a few people approached me later and told me they owned businesses and could use help with social media or other admin functions.
It goes to show, you never know where you’re going to find your next client. If you join an unrelated club, or attend unrelated events and make small talk with people, you may find new business!
People want to support small businesses. More than that, they want to support someone they know and like. Don’t be shy about talking about your business. The only way that you can get new clients is to let people know what you do. You don’t have to pushy. In almost every conversation between two adults, the subject of work comes up. For most people work is something that consumes a lot of their time and can be a source of pride or personal identification. If you are asked what you do, give people your ten-second elevator pitch with confidence and make sure you have business cards with you at all times.
- Join groups and clubs that interest you. You can find groups on Meetup.com or through Facebook.
- Get involved in your community. Go to events and visit local hotspots.
- Be friendly and engaging. Get to know the people in your community.
2) Jury duty
The words “jury duty” often elicit groans. Many people don’t enjoy getting a summons in the mail and don’t want to report for jury duty.
Jury duty, and other places were people have to meet during business hours, brings people together who would otherwise never meet. It may be the perfect place to make a few connections because you’re stuck there anyway.
In 2017, I was chosen to serve on the jury of an attempted murder case. The other 11 members and I spent eight hours per day together for five days. Less than five hours per day was spent hearing testimony or sitting in the jury booth. The rest of the time we were locked in a small room with no TV or reading materials. We were all released for lunch together and people formed small groups to go to restaurants in the area. People talked to each other to pass the time.
During jury duty, one of my fellow jury members asked me what I did. After I told him, he gave me his card and told me to contact him when I was available to take on new clients. At the time, I was about to go on maternity leave.
This client acquisition took almost no effort on my part. I was friendly and provided my ten-second elevator pitch. My services were interesting to this fellow small business owner and we exchanged cards.
- Look at situations where you and others are a contained audience as a chance to meet new people (think: airports, jury duty, doctor’s offices, public transit)
- Develop the confidence to talk about what you do. If you run a small business then you are your number one marketing tool.
- Be friendly. People do business with people they like.
3) Facebook groups
The internet is a huge place for finding clients. The majority of my clients are people that I’ve never met in person and probably never will due to distance. If you’re offering any type of online service, you must be prepared to meet clients online.
Your website is your best asset for online clients. They need to see a professional, organized explanation of who you are, what you do, and how you can make their lives easier. Make sure you have an online presence before you attempt to find clients online.
I have found many clients online which is not surprising because I specialize in virtual work.
When most people think of places to find jobs online, they think of job posting boards like Indeed or Craigslist. They may also think of LinkedIn or freelancing sites like Freelancer or Upwork. All of these places can be great for finding work, but there’s another place I’ve found clients that may not immediately come to mind.
Facebook! Specifically Facebook groups.
Facebook isn’t just a place for posting family pictures, finding things to do in your city, and sharing funny memes, it’s also a great place for finding clients!
There are many specialized group pages for finding work in your niche. For example, if you’re a virtual assistant, you can find groups for virtual assistant jobs. The same goes for almost any online services. Search Facebook and join some groups in your niche. Make sure you actively participate so that you stand out.
- Offer advice without selling in groups. You’ll be seen as someone trustworthy and helpful and people will want to work with you.
- Participate in groups to become a recognizable expert in your niche
- Be wary of clients or job offers that seem too good to be true. Never share your banking information with anyone and always agree to terms and payments before beginning work.
Always keep your eyes open for new connections, even if you’re booked solid because things can rapidly change in the freelancing world. Actively looking for new clients can help you avoid the feast or famine situation that plagues many small business owners. Remember, you can find clients anywhere…be ready for them!