“Show me a company with more than 10 % of its business with one customer or more than half of its business in one industry and I’ll show you a company at risk of being (adversely) impacted by one company or one industry.”
Paul Weber, CEO Advertising Group Kansas City, MO
In the Freelancer’s favorite dream, we somehow manage to sign a nice group of steady clients who all offer multi-week projects that carry us smoothly through the year. We smile as we sign our contracts and deposit our checks…
In the rude awakening that is the “new normal” economy, however, the realization of our dream is slipping further from our grasp. Client behavior is more fickle than ever and outrageous fortune can oh, so easily snatch a good account away from us, no matter how well we work with the prime contact or how long the association.
A departmental shake-up can cause someone new to enter the Garden of Eden, who will cast us out and bring in their own hand-picked specialist. Other times, industry changes, shifting organizational priorities or even a technology upgrade can render our services obsolete.
Knowing our primary customer groups and industries where our services are most welcome is essential branding knowledge for every Freelancer. Nevertheless, underneath the umbrella of your brand, it is wise to keep eyes, ears and mind open for new sectors of enterprise. Where else might you find an open door?
I liken it to cross-training in fitness: participating in different activities expands our competencies, guards against boredom and makes us less vulnerable to injury. Cross-training makes us stronger, more versatile and ultimately, healthier. Under the umbrella of fitness, it is possible to run, swim, bike, row, ride the elliptical, weight train, core train and practice yoga. It is wise to apply that principle to your body and your business.
Here are five activities that will help you to apply the cross-training principle to your business and help you to diversify your client base:
1. Cold call by reaching out to clients you haven’t worked with in a while or re-approaching prospects who liked your services but weren’t ready to take you on at the time.
2. Energize your PR by sending out press releases that announce your speaking or teaching engagements to media followed by clients that you want to reach. Get involved with an event sponsored by a local business or business association and send press releases to your targeted media outlets. Remember to make follow-up phone calls and create an opportunity to develop relationships with the media along with the participating business owners.
3. Network face to face and meet people. Approach new contacts with the mindset of helping them to achieve their objectives by making introductions and sharing information. Your generosity can pay off in referrals, no doubt to new clients and possibly new industries.
4. Collaborate with complementary businesses to broaden or deepen your professional reach and get introduced to new clients or industries.
5. Volunteer for a cause that resonates with you or join the local Rotary Club. Your network of professional relationships will increase, others will see your expertise in action as you apply your talents to various projects and referrals may eventually come your way, giving you entrée to new clients and industries.
Thanks for reading,