As a freelancer, you need to have your eyes open for new opportunities at all times. You never know when or where you’ll meet your next client!
I’ve found work in some unlikely places, both in the real world and online. I was able to turn these chance meetings into paying clients for one reason – I was ready for it.
I want to share my number one tip for landing clients as a freelancer.
Always be prepared.
Seriously, that’s my best piece of advice for anyone growing a small business!
You have no idea where you could meet your next client or your next referral. You want to make sure that you are always prepared and professional when an opportunity arises.
For me, always being prepared involves three things:
1) Carrying business cards at all times
Business cards are incredibly inexpensive ($10 for 100 on Vistaprint), but they immediately make you look like you have your stuff together.
I started carrying my business cards with me after being asked by several people if I had one. I was totally embarrassed to admit that I didn’t. Though business cards can seem a bit old-fashioned, they are still being used especially by those with traditional careers.
When someone asks what I do and shows any interest in it, I offer them a card. My business card includes the following information:
My name, email, website, and phone number. I’ve also included the things I do on the back.
Here is what my business card currently looks like:
A business card gives your potential referral or client something to remember you by. When I give someone my card, they can look up my website at their leisure. They don’t have to wonder: “what services did she offer?” or “what was her last name again?” or “how do you spell Sturm?” People often misspell my last name.
Business cards give the impression that you are open for business and looking for new leads. I keep a few in my wallet at all times. Since I always have my wallet with me when I’m out of the house, I know my cards are always with me too.
2) Always looking presentable
As a (mostly) stay-at-home mom, I get the appeal of wearing pajamas every day. In fact, I’m often in them until I have to take my daughter to preschool or if we have nowhere to be. However, when I leave the house I always get ready and presentable.
In my 20s, getting presentable meant a full face of makeup (heavy on the smokey eye), perfectly curled or straightened hair, and a coordinated ensemble including cute shoes, jewelry, and a matching purse.
Nowadays, it looks more like concealer on my dark circles and red spots, mascara, clean hair in a bun, and a t-shirt/sweater and shorts or leggings/jeans combo, depending on the weather. Not only do I not have the time or disposable income to dress like I did in my early 20s, I also don’t care to!
However, I am comfortable in what I’m wearing and not embarrassed to be seen in it. You won’t be able to focus on meeting new people and promoting yourself if you feel like your appearance is being judged. Sometimes people brag about being “hot mess” moms, but if you want to be taken seriously, you should look like you didn’t just roll out of bed. If you don’t have time to get dressed in the morning, you probably don’t have time to find new clients.
3) Having a memorized ten-second elevator pitch
A ten-second elevator pitch lets potential clients know what you do in a very short amount of time. Often the advice for an elevator pitch is 30 seconds to 1 minute. That doesn’t seem like very long until you put a stopwatch on and try to hold a plank for one minute…then it seems like an eternity!
Unfortunately, everyone is busy nowadays and even one minute of someone’s undivided attention is hard to come by. Not only that but the longer your elevator pitch, the pushier it feels.
Oftentimes when you quickly tell someone what you do, it can spark a conversation about their business needs. At that point, you can ask questions and sell your work or service.
My ten-second elevator pitch is “I have a small marketing business where I help clients with social media management, content creation, and other administrative tasks so they can focus on the high-value work that only they can do.”
I don’t often use the phrase “virtual assistant” unless someone is already familiar with the term because then my pitch becomes an explanation of what a virtual assistant is. The topic is super interesting, but I don’t want the client focusing on that and forgetting exactly what I offer or what I can do for them.
A ten-second elevator pitch gives a potential client an idea of what you do in a casual and conversational way. Knowing exactly what I’m going to say when someone asks “what do you do?” gives me the confidence to talk about my business to other people.
If you follow those three tips, you’ll always be prepared to meet a new client or referral. And being prepared can be the difference between getting the job or not. You only have one chance to make a first impression on a potential client so make sure you’re making a good one.