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How to Contact Clients Directly and Find More Freelancing Work

by Laura Spencer

on January 24, 2013

in Freelancing Basics Marketing

Learn how to earn $125 or more per hour as a freelancer - Free Test Drive

Fear is what keeps most freelancers from contacting prospective clients directly.

If you can overcome that fear and embrace cold prospecting as part of your marketing strategy, you’ll have a distinct advantage over your competition. That’s because you’ll discover new freelancing projects before they are advertised.

Imagine applying for a freelancing project that no one else is competing with you to get. Does that idea sound attractive? If it does read on to learn more about cold prospecting.

Cold Prospecting

If you wait for a client to find you, you may be waiting a very long time–especially if you are just starting out.

The alternative is to make the first contact. Reach out to companies that are likely to need your services in the future. You provide a basic introduction and start to build relationship. We have seen this style with many agencies that build websites.

This is called cold prospecting and it’s something many freelancers avoid like the plague. However, if you do it properly, cold prospecting is nothing to be afraid of.

Three Ways to Reach Potential Clients

There are basically three ways to reach out to potential clients:

  • Through a targeted email
  • Through a targeted mailing
  • By phoning a targeted group of potential customers

The key word in the previous list is “targeted.” You don’t want to randomly send out information about your freelancing business. After all, not everyone is a prospect.

Instead, you want to contact those organizations that are most likely to need your freelancing services. So, spend some time thinking about your ideal client.

Now, let’s look at how to find potential clients.

Where to Find Potential Clients

Often, you need look no further than the businesses and organizations in your own town. You can often find a list of local businesses at your local chamber of commerce or other local business listing.

Eliminate those businesses that obviously don’t fit your typical client profile. Make a list of the rest and spend some time learning about each business the list. Information to consider:

  • How long the organization has been doing business
  • How many employees the business has
  • The names of owners/decision-makers
  • Contact information

You can find a lot of the information you need on the organization’s website. You may be able to learn more by looking in local newspaper archives at your local library.

If you have a LinkedIn account, search on company names to get a profile of the company to see a list of employees who have linked in accounts. LinkedIn lists employees with new job titles first. You will also see any job openings that may point to freelancing opportunities.

Once you’ve learned more about local organizations, you should be able to eliminate some of them as not being a good fit for your freelancing business. What you’re left with is a targeted list that you can use to make your first contacts.

Making the First Contact

Now that you have a list of possible client companies in your area, you are ready to make a first contact.

Whenever possible, address your materials to an individual by name rather than by title. For example, don’t send your information packet or phone call to “Dear Marketing Director.” Instead, direct it to “Jane Jones, Director of Marketing Services.”

Your goal in cold prospecting shouldn’t necessarily be to close a deal with the first contact. After all, your prospect never heard of you before you contacted them.

Instead, try to establish a relationship with the prospect so that you can stay in touch with them. Ultimately, you want them to feel comfortable with you so that they turn to you when they need your services.

Do this by including an offer for free information that’s relevant to their business in the packet with the information about your services. Many freelancers have a booklet or other inexpensive resource that they offer to potential clients.

The Follow Up

After you’ve sent the information packet, your next contact will be a phone call. Ask for the person you sent the materials to.

In your conversation, bring up the following points:

  • Did they receive the materials?
  • Are they the right person to receive the materials? If they are not, then who?
  • Did they have any questions about the materials?
  • Are they interested in the resource offer?
  • Can you keep them updated with future information?

Keep it brief unless they show a definite interest. Respect their time.

As you can see these are fairly non-threatening questions, but they should give you an idea of whether the business is interested in your services. Follow up is vital to your success.

Your Turn

What client prospecting techniques work for you? Share your tips in the comments.

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About Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 20 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy LauraĆ¢??s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts. Laura is also on Google+.