7 (Often Overlooked) Strategies for Finding Your First Client

“We’re open!”

Launching a business for the first time is incredibly exciting. Exhilarating even.

Last year, I met a young chiropractor who, along with her husband, was about to open their first practice in just a few weeks. The office was almost ready; the website was up and looking sharp. There were just a few more details to address before they’d be be ready to open their doors.

To say that they were excited doesn’t even come close to how they were feeling.

Recently, I’ve been coaching someone who helps parents deal with some of the most challenging kids, right in their own home. When we started, all she had was a ton of experience, a healthy dose of courage, and a lot of ideas.

Last month, she had her first five figure month.

SO much fun.

But what if you open those doors and no one comes? What if your business happens on line or over the phone, and you don’t even have ‘doors’ to open?

How in the world do you get your first paying client?

And another after that?

When I started my first business years ago, I only had one client for the entire first year. I still remember how excited I was when I got that referral. I could hardly sleep!

But thank heavens I didn’t rush out and quit my day job – or I would have starved. :)

(And today, my coaching clients don’t have to wait anywhere NEAR that long to get their own practice off the ground. Geez!)

That slow start gave me time to ease into the very idea of running a business. And after a year, when I got my second – and third – client, I was ready, and things took off.

Some of that was luck. Some was the natural momentum that comes over time.

But most of it was because I learned how to market myself. Over the years, my practice grew from that one client in an office I rented by the hour, to a three story Victorian home with twelve providers and a packed parking lot.

Whether you’re just getting started, or looking to re-boot after a lull, finding your next client might feel intimidating. But all you need are the right strategies to make that happen.

And once you get the first one in the door, the second will come even easier.

Here are clear, effective action steps you can implement immediately to begin bringing in clients and building your business.

I’ve used every single one of these; I know they work.

Just one note: I haven’t said a word here about social media, for a reason. It’s far too easy to hide behind your computer and write notes to the world, hoping the right people will find their way to you.

But when you’re just getting started, or getting back in the game, you need to be seen, and the best way to do that is the old fashioned way: off line.

So here you go. 

1. Send out a press release. Send a well-written press release to the newspapers in your region (not just your town) announcing the opening of your business.

Make it a positioning piece that clearly outlines your qualifications for the work, and the kind of clients you best serve.

2. Send out warm letters. Make a list of everyone you know: family, friends, coworkers, friends from volunteer work you’ve done, folks at your church, even your dentist.

Send a note or a letter to those who are most likely to be supportive, telling them your good news. Share the excitement about your business, and invite them to send people your way.

3. Hold an open house. If you do have an actual physical office, consider hosting an open house to show off the space and introduce yourself to the neighborhood.

Make it a really nice event, and invite people who are likely to be potential referral sources for your kind of business.

4. Offer to speak – anywhere and everywhere you can. Civic clubs, community groups, church groups, networking groups are always looking for speakers – ANY speakers.

If you’re nervous about speaking, now would be a good time to get over that. :-) And let me know if you need help; I’ve been speaking to audiences for over 25 years.

If you’re REALLY nervous about speaking, find and join a local Toastmasters group.

5. Become a volunteer. One of the best ways to build relationships – and become known for your business – is to get involved in your community. Find an organization that speaks to your heart, and join in.

As people come to know you, you’ll be the first they think of when they have someone to refer. Trust me. Happens ALL the time.

6. Network like crazy. Go to every professional conference, continuing education seminar, or networking group you can find. Introduce yourself, and share your excitement about the work that you do. (One of my favorite ways to do this is through personal ‘listening tours’. Hit reply and ask if you’d like to know more about that.)

Make it a point to seek out people you can SEND business to as well.

7. Ask for the business. When I ran for office the first time, a dear mentor of mine frequently reminded me to actually ask for people’s vote. The same thing goes for you. When you meet potential referral sources, or potential clients – ASK for the business. A simple “keep me in mind if you meet someone who needs what I offer” is fine for starters.

But ask.

I’ve used all of these tools to build not one, but several businesses over the years, with consistent success.

Choose one or two of these to try, and let me know what happens.

We’ll celebrate your growing success right here.

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