Every business owner remembers their first sale, and for those who haven’t yet landed theirs, getting your first client as a consultant can be the catalyst for long term growth.

Read on to find out ways you can secure your first client as a consultant using industry-specific and modern advertising techniques. Discover:

  • Four ways to get your first client as a consultant 
  • How to pitch projects successfully
  • How to run your business more efficiently with Countingup

Four ways to get your first client as a consultant

Networking and referrals

Consulting businesses can benefit early on if you have connections to rely on for business. 

Reaching out to industry peers or contacts can be as simple as a short email detailing your new career move, a brief breakdown of your services and expertise, and a way for them to follow up with you if they’re interested. Some of these details may be less relevant for people you already know which is why it’s vital to strike the right tone with everyone you reach out to. Otherwise, you may come off as overbearing or pushy. Learn more about effective communication in our articles How to write a professional business email and How to let friends know about your new business.

If you don’t yet have this resource, establishing a network of professionals as well as your credibility to consult within your industry is key. Consider ways to grow your network beyond what you already have like joining professional societies, alumni clubs or networking events for startups or at coworking spaces. As you meet new people, you likely won’t be able to work with all of them. However, this network of people can still be beneficial to you through second and third-person connections of the people you know. While this might dilute your effectiveness, simply being known within your industry can help you find work. We return to this idea more through ‘content marketing’ in a later section.

Advertising online

Online advertising can be another lucrative way of finding clients and this method can build your business just as effectively but with slightly less effort. Freelancing websites like Upwork and Fiverr are established platforms where people looking for business advice can go to find the help they need. Making accounts and showing your availability can be an easy and high-traffic method of sourcing your first client for very little effort. Read more in our guide How to start freelancing.

Similarly, you can blend the network approach above and start connecting with industry professionals on social media. Platforms like LinkedIn have become the go-to place for industry and consulting professionals to advertise their services and build an online network. LinkedIn also offers ways to indicate your availability with their ‘Open to work’ banner that can accompany your profile picture – allowing you to advertise readiness even when you’re not posting.

You may also wish to build a professional website and market your business using online advertising and search engine optimisation. Find out more about this in our guide What is small business marketing? 

Advertising using industry events or publications 

If you consult in a niche area or for a particular business specialism, your advertising should be equally focused.

One way to do this is to grow an advertising presence in specific communities like trade shows and industry publications. By placing your advertising in these spaces, you’ll make sure more of your target market sees your advertising and will increase your likelihood of sales.

This method can be especially effective as these are spaces where business leaders and professionals go to search for new and upcoming solutions to the challenges they face. Therefore, you can meet more potential customers who are open to products and services that could benefit their business.

Content marketing

Content marketing typically involves producing written, audio or video content that helps create awareness of your expertise and helps you build a reputation of being knowledgeable and credible in what you consult on. It can be as simple as sharing your thoughts on current or future problems within your industry or how the pros and cons of common approaches can weigh up against each other. This method works on the premise that any interested clients then reach out for further information about your services and rates. 

As you’re looking for your first client, content marketing may be a particularly useful method as your introduction to customers is centred on the value you offer. It can also be an effective way to build a network or following of people interested in discussing industry challenges and ways to meet them.

How to pitch projects successfully

While the above methods might get you noticed by potential clients and open conversations with them, this is only one half of the equation. You’ll need to be able to successfully pitch your offer of a solution for their problem in order to land their business.

You’ll need to listen to what they need and their budget. This is important because many customers will often have a familiarity with what they need or what they expect a solution to be. You may need to manage expectations and communicate how your course of action works better where their opinions misalign with yours.

Doing this well takes practice and strong communication skills. Find out more about key project skills in our useful guides:

Run your business more efficiently with Countingup

Running a consulting business is fast-paced and exciting, so you’ll need all the time you can get to make sure you’re managing client relations well and working to deliver their projects to the brief. Time-consuming and stressful financial admin can get in the way of that.

Countingup makes it easier. It’s the two in one business current account with free, built-in accounting software. It automates time consuming bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. 

With automatic expense categorisation, receipt capture tools and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances every day and spend more time focussing on growing your client base. Find out more here.