* Disclaimer, the advice below includes you doing a bunch of work. Sorry, nothing comes for free.
There’s a lot of sales people out there, there’s a lot of resources that help you sell well. These are all great things, but you’ll never get what you want from them all. No matter what I say, or what you watch…experience is the key.
The most important thing with sales, is knowing people. You can always refine how you sell, look back at the embarrassing moments in those coffee shops and make changes, but you can’t do it when you don’t know anyone. Having a long list of people to call and ask favours from is vital to owning a business. Marketing and advertising only come in when you’ve run out of people to meet, and in today’s day and age, people are ok with a phone call or a coffee in order to get to know you.
Building a list is the first step to finding work.
Being in sales isn’t just one sided, it actually has a creative side to it. If you’re any good, people will come to you. They come through others that have worked with you, that boast about your awsomeness. So yes, the work can speak for itself…but you can’t gain that reputation without knowing a good amount of people and doing consistently great work for them.
So that’s easy when you’re not slammed, but It’s very hard to put the time into meeting new people while keeping your head down working all day. If you’re digging into relationships vs surface clients, you’ll be very happy in the long run. Taking time out of your work day seems hard, or a waste of time…but it’s worth it just to meet one new person a week.
After years of having my head down designing, I started building my network. I was noticing that when I needed the work, I had to get to know people first. My Rolodex didn’t roll sort of speak. This was the turning point in my business, taking time out of my day to meet new people was a major investment into my business! I finally had new people to call when the old clients were out of money or bored with me.
So what kind of things can you do in order to start a network, or maintain one? Here’s a few of my ideas.
Build a network
1. Call every family member you know, and tell them what you’re doing. That’s it, don’t ask for favours yet.
2. Call places you would like to work; design studios, agencies, media or print production houses and simply ask if they need any help. It could be free, or half of your hourly rate. Just see if they are up for it…they know lot’s of clients.
3. Get in with your competition, I know every single person around me that is in the creative field. I make an effort to know who is selling to the same people I’d like to sell to. Sometimes it starts as cool creative ventures, sometimes it gets you clients.
4. Walk into a business, get to know them. Offer up some services for 75% off.
5. Lastly, advertise. If you like the look of your feeds, promote them. You never know who will find you. As an example, one of my best clients (who is now a business partner in China) found me searching “wallpapers” in google. Put effort into free things people might want, then they look you up and boom. Or, spend a few bucks on yourself and get some attention online!
Now that you’ve built a little network, maintain it! Give these folks a call once and a while, drop in on some of their events. Support them before you support yourself. At the very least you’ll learn something.
Most importantly, do great work. If you do so, people will come back again and again. I’ve changed my company name a few times…but people still find me!
Get to know people, lots of them. Do great work for people, free or cheap at first. Be a great communicator and friend…
PS. Linkedin was not part of my advice. Do not start here.
Todd Neilson – Considerate Agency