So you’ve learned all these new skills, you’ve set up your online business and now the time has come when you’re finally ready to go out into the big wide world and find your very first client! Everything you’ve done so far has been leading up to this moment. Your super excited, yet you can’t keep those nerves at bay…right? Don’t worry, we have all been there! Read on to discover my step-by-step guide on how to find local clients, including real life examples from people who have stood in your shoes.
Before we dive in, you might be asking yourself, ‘why local clients, when there are SO MANY online?!’ And you’re right, that’s a valid question. While this blog post aims to give you tips and tricks to land local clients, I highly recommend you do this in tandem with finding online clients (because there are SO MANY out there)! The thing I’ve found that is so awesome about landing local clients is they’re a lot more likely to refer you to their friends, family, co-workers, realtor, plumber, hair dresser, coffee shop, dog kennel…you get the picture! There’s something special about meeting with people face-to-face that really resonates with local businesses (me included)…plus, local businesses love to support fellow local businesses (that’s you).
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good long day behind the computer, but meeting with local clients is a great way to add balance to your client roster (diversify, anyone?!) while also adding some balance to your work-life (i.e. getting outside and interacting with three dimensional people)! So get in the shower, put on some real clothes and go meet your fellow local business owners – I guarantee it’ll be a worthwhile experience!
STEP 1: Research the local businesses you’ll be approaching
When I embarked on the journey to find local clients, my first port of call was Google Maps. Use this tool to scout your local area and see what businesses are within your immediate reach. Check out their website to get a feel for what your potential clients are about and how you could help them. For instance, I used Google Maps to find local clients that could use some help with an existing web presence, or needed to create one. Whatever your online business is, Virtual Assistant to Social Media Manager, apply the same technique to see if any local businesses are calling out for your services, which local business your services are appropriate to, and how you can help them.
STEP 2: Find local clients by exploring Facebook groups
Now-a-days most towns have their own Facebook page to post local news, items for sale and services they’re looking for/providing. Use this to your advantage. It’s worth checking on these kinds of groups every now and again to see if anyone is calling out for the service you’re offering. Facebook even allows you to set up notifications everytime someone posts in a group, if you really want to keep an eye on a particular group that you feel has potential to help you find local clients. You could even use these groups to introduce your business, spread awareness and get your name out there.
STEP 3: Communicate with the community
Don’t think that because you’ve started an online business that you can’t find local clients through word of mouth. Ask friends and family if they know of anyone who would benefit from your services and ask them to make a referral. Put yourself out there and introduce yourself, in person, to the businesses local to you. Now, if you’re like me, you might be panicking – DON’T! I had a terrible time convincing myself to do this. The root of the issue was that I was lacking in confidence and I feared rejection. We’re only human after all. But if you want to find local clients, you need to overcome this. First of all, believe in yourself and what you’re selling. You didn’t set up your online business because you didn’t think it will succeed! Secondly, try not to fear rejection because it’s inevitable. I’m not here to fill you with false hopes, I’m here to be honest. Here’s the cold hard truth. You might not get the first gig you approach. Or the second. Or the third. But you will land your first client, you just need to keep putting yourself out there.
Also consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce or check to see if your city has a Small Business Association. These are great ways to meet fellow local business owners!
STEP 4: When an opportunity to find local clients presents itself, take it!
Here are a few real life examples, so you know you’re not alone…and so you know it can be done:
I was struggling to get enough online clients to pay the bills, so I decided to reach out to my local network and see if anyone needed any online help. Rather than trying to sell them something, I offered something for free in exchange for a testimonial and referrals. In this case, I offered to run a simple 30 day Facebook ad lead generation campaign and all they had to do was pay for the ad spend (about $100). I did this for two local companies and yes, it took time, but I got to practice a new skill AND it resulted in over $8700 in income from their referrals and repeat business! Plus, one of those local referrals just referred me on to two other local business, so the web keeps on growing!
I’m going to tell you about a friend of mine who took the most unlikely opportunity, and turned it into an opportunity to find and land her first client (and they were local).
It was a Saturday night and she was out at a local restaurant with her friends, enjoying the atmosphere and relaxing after a hard week balancing her 9-5 job and trying to get her online web development business off the ground. She was yet to land her first client. After dinner the owner of the bar came over to introduce himself and make sure everyone was having a good time. She jumped on this opportunity to introduce herself as a local web developer and asked about his web presence. Within a week of this, she had landed the gig – her first local client! This just goes to show that the chance to find local clients can come when you least expect it.
The owner of the restaurant loved that she was a customer. In his eyes this meant that she was passionate about his business, knew what the business was about and what they stood for. Despite what you might think, not all clients will shy away from your inexperience. Be genuine and let your passion for what you do shine through, and for many clients, this will overshadow inexperience.
So next time you’re at your favorite cafe or restaurant, take the time to introduce yourself and your business. Do your research, show an interest and if you’re getting good vibes, suggest how your services could benefit their business.
Additional tips to help you find local clients
- Don’t be a sleezy salesman. Be genuine. If you believe in yourself and your services, this will shine though. Most, if not all of my clients have expressed to me that they love my passion and that’s one of the reasons they chose me.
- Be helpful. Don’t go to your potential clients with problems as this will convey negativity. Go to them with the solutions to those problems. This shows them that your service is of value to them, that you are productive and it also gives them a positive impression.
- Be confident. This is not something that comes naturally to everyone but keep in mind; you haven’t started a business because you don’t believe in it. Confidence comes from belief.
Remember, everyone has to start somewhere. So what are you waiting for? Go find your first local client!