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Sometimes when you work at home, you don't get the networking and person-to-person exposure you otherwise would. But that doesn't mean that you're at a disadvantage. There are plenty of ways web workers can bring in more business, and many require very little effort. Here are more than 50 ways you can get started on bringing in all the new clients and new business you can handle.
Get Out There
Don't just sit at home and wait for business to come to you– get out there and bring it in.
- Go to industry events. No matter what kind of business you're in, there's sure to be a conference, meeting or seminar for your industry. Use these opportunities to get out and talk with those in your line of business, make new friends, and get your name out there.
- Sponsor your own event. It doesn't have to be anything extravagant, but if you have the means, sponsoring a lunch or seminar for others in your line of work can be a great way to look professional, let others know what it is you do, and bring in some new business.
- Join the Chamber of Commerce. Attending meetings with other local professionals can be a great way to let others know about your business and pass around your business cards. Plus, you'll be actively participating in your community, which is beneficial to you and your reputation.
- Don't be afraid to talk to strangers. You may have gotten into the online business because you didn't want to have to deal with people face to face, but if you want to bring in more business, you're going to have to suck it up and learn to talk to people. Try having a few ice breakers ready so when you do have a chance to talk to the random person at a party or anywhere else you won't be so nervous. It may just end up being friendly conversation, but you never know who can help you bring in business.
- Join industry organizations. If your line of online work has a club or professional organization, sign up and get involved. Serving on the board of these organizations gives you an incredible amount of credibility and also helps you to meet people and get leads on new business.
- Have a pitch ready. You never know when you'll meet someone that is a prime source of new business for you, so it's better to always be prepared. Have a short and succinct way of describing just what it is you do prepared in your head ahead of time, so you won't get too tongue tied when the opportunity strikes.
- Volunteer for speaking engagements. Want to get your name out there and gain some respect? Offer to give presentations and speeches about your business to local colleges, business organizations and anyone else who will have you.
- Give out your business cards. You don't have business cards just because they are fun to carry around, give them out anytime it's appropriate. Even if you hand out your card to someone you only intend to meet up with to play golf, it never hurts to have them floating around out there.
- Attend non-business social events. You don't always have to get out with business in mind. Purely social events are great ways to meet new clients as well. Attend church functions, neighborhood block parties, and more to meet new people. Even if you don't make a new client right away, you'll get out of the house and hopefully make new friends who can help you out in the future.
- Take a class. Taking classes and attending educational seminars can be a great way to not only learn more about your profession and keep up to date, but can also be a way for you to meet others in your field and make new and possibly profitable contacts.
- Be persistent.This doesn't mean making a pest of yourself, but don't give up if someone doesn't immediately respond to you. Make sure you follow up with any potential leads.
- Participate in a trade show. Get your name out there and recognized by industry leaders by attending trade shows. You'll get to meet and greet and maybe even sell some of your services.
Use Your Connections
Whether it's your mom's next door neighbor or one of your past clients, the people you know provide a valuable source of exposure.
- Send out an email. Create a nice email listing your services, rates, and a small sample of your work and send it to everyone on your email list. This can be especially useful if you're just starting out and want people to know what you're up to so they can send business your way.
- Get in touch with past clients. If clients used your services in the past and were happy with your work, they may be willing to hire you for an additional project. Keep in touch so they know you're interested in any potential work.
- Send out promotions with your invoices. Spice up your billing by sending out ads for your other services along with your invoices. You'll let current clients know what you offer in case they need any additional work done.
- Enlist family and friends. Often, family and friends can be some of the best people to help you bring in work. Ask them to mention you any time someone they know needs the services you offer and give them a few business cards to hand out as well. No one will work as hard to help you out than those that love you, so don't take this opportunity for granted.
- Ask past clients for referrals. If you had clients that were particularly impressed with your work, don't hesitate to ask them for referrals and testimonials about your work. New clients will be much more likely to trust you if they have reviews to go on.
- Consider referral fees. One way to up the number of referrals you get is to offer a reward for those who bring you new business. Big clients can bring in thousands of dollars, so a small referral fee can be more than worth the cost.
- Cross promote with other businesses. Help another business out and yourself at the same time. Find a non-competing business to exchange referrals with. This can work especially well if you offer similar but exclusive services. Most clients will need both services and be likely to offer you both business.
- Stay in contact with former coworkers. Old coworkers can be a great way to keep in the loop about business opportunities. If they work in a slightly different industry they can send new business your way, and if they work in the same industry they can send you their overflow business.
- Join a referral club. There are many clubs out there that you can join to exchange referrals with other businesspeople and freelancers. Check one out to see if it can work to help get you some new work thrown your way.
- Reconnect with your Alma Mater. Alumni associations can be great networking tools and great ways to pick up some new clients. Join your school's, as many offer special programs to help out other alumni.
- Leverage your hobbies. Got a love for saltwater aquariums? Snowboarding? Advertise your services to those who share you interests or local specialty businesses. You'll likely be their first choice if they have a need for your services, as you know the business better than someone else without that hobby.
- Ask for credit. When you do work for a client, ask politely if they wouldn't mind giving you credit for your work in the magazine, on the webpage, or in whatever other media your work appears. While they have the final say, it doesn't hurt to ask, and others that view you work and like it may be inclined to have you do some work for them as well.
Use the Internet
If you're already on it all day, why not make some of that time dedicated to bringing in new clients?
- Participate in online forums. Use online forums as a way to network with others in your line of business and keep abreast of any potential work opportunities. Don't forget to include a link to your website or blog in your signature.
- Comment on blogs to draw people in to your site. If you read blogs on topics that are similar to your own line of business try commenting on them and getting to know the other bloggers. It might draw interested parties to visit your website and you might be able to exchange links with others.
- Make the most of online directories. Make sure your business is listed in relevant online directories so that when potential clients are searching for help in your line of work, your name will come up. If you're really ambitious, try creating your own directory with a local or regional spin.
- Start podcasting. Get yourself noticed by creating and publishing a weekly or monthly podcast. Talk about issues relevant to your industry or answer questions from visitors to your site. Just be sure to make it interesting so you get repeat listeners.
- Become an online expert. There are many sites on the Web (AllExperts, Quora, and Experts Exchange for example) where users can submit questions and get answers from experts. Start answering questions on these sites and you name and website will get more exposure.
- Enter your work into online competitions. If sites related to your line of business are offering rewards for winning competitions, don't hesitate to enter your best work. If you win, you'll get something to add to your resume and get your name out there. If not, you can always try again.
- Check online job boards. The Internet is a great place to search for work of all kinds. Check industry-specific job boards or those designed especially for freelancers to see if there's something that could be a perfect match for your abilities and services.
- Use Craigslist. It's not the most sophisticated of sites, but Craigslist can be an incredible way to find new business. Peruse their job listings for your area or specialization to see if you can't find some new clients.
- Optimize your website for search engines. Don't let your website languish out there on the Internet. Make sure it's in tip top shape to bring in the most casual web surfers that might be interested in hiring you. Check out some of the numerous resources on the web dedicated to helping you make the most of your website.
- Start a blog. Creating a blog can be a great way to talk about your business, especially if you're in the writing industry. Make sure to create great content, link to other sites, participate in blog carnivals and get your name out there.
- Submit tutorials. There are numerous sites out there that specialize in tutorials for a variety of industries. Try submitting your own. It could get you recognized as an expert in the industry and at the very least get your name out there.
- Sign up for LinkedIn. LinkedIn can be a great way to network online. You'll increase your visibility, make it easy for people to contact you, and improve your search engine ranking, not to mention benefit from any of your existing business contacts.
- Invest in Google Adwords. A little online advertising could go a long way. Invest in some small ads on pages potential clients would frequent. It may not bring in streams of business but it will at the very least get your name out there.
Advertisements have been the way businesses have brought in clients for hundreds of years, so why not give it a shot at bringing in some work for you?
- Put it on your car. Have a magnet or window cling with your website and business name on it printed up to attach to your car. That way, when you're running errands or taking a trip, you'll also be spreading the word about your online business.
- List yourself in the yellow pages. You may be located on the Internet, but that's no reason why local business shouldn't come your way. Make sure your business is included in the local yellow pages or business directories so potential clients will see your name and can give you a ring.
- Take out an ad in the newspaper. You could be missing out on potential clients simply because they aren't aware of your services. Take out a small ad in the newspaper to get the word out about your business and the services you offer.
- Send out clever greeting cards. Holidays can be a great time for promoting your business. A well crafted holiday card or seasonal greeting can capture the interest of clients and get new business sent your way.
- Give something away for free. It doesn't have to be something big, but clients love to get something for nothing. It could be what separates you from your competition, so throw in a small freebie to increase interest in your business.
- Create a memorable business card. A boring business card isn't doing you any favors. You want to create something unique but professional. Try using different materials or creating a particularly striking design. Potential clients might keep it even if they don't presently need your services just because they think it looks cool.
- Start a newsletter. A newsletter, whether online or off, is a free and effective way to promote your business. Make sure to include links for subscribing to your newsletter on your website.
- Create a calendar. What better way to keep clients thinking about you than to create a calendar they can see every day? It'll likely be hung where others can see it and your information, giving you a leg up on the competition.
- Snail mail it. Many businesses are overwhelmed with junk email nowadays, so sending ads or mailers through the actual mail might be a more effective way to garner some attention for your business.
- Offer special deals for new customers. Bring in fresh accounts by offering special promotions for those willing to try out your services. Whether it's a free consultation or a discount based on something else, it's a surefire way to generate interest in those looking to get the best work for the best price.
- Emphasize your niche. It can be hard trying to be everything for everyone, so play up a unique element about your business. It could be the deciding factor between you and your competitor.
- Leave your cards around town. Ask local businesses like the grocery store or restaurants if you can place a few of your cards on their counter for other customers to see. You can also try leaving lards on public bulletin boards just any place where they might be seen by someone in passing or someone specifically looking for your services.
- Wear your business information. With online services like CafePress it's easy to get your business name printed up on everything from t-shirts to baby onesies. Try coming up with a clever graphic or saying that will entice those around you to ask about it, and then you can tell them about your business.