Not only is this new idea the best, it’s also the cheapest. Essentially it is free.
Here it is: Afix a marketing message to the outside lid of your laptop and use the open laptop wherever potential clients hang out.
In this case, web coders Sean Crowe and Thomas Gorczynski of Hacksmith Labs attached large labels to their laptops that said “I CODE HIRE ME” and then used their laptops regularly at the local coffee shop. For two years, that was pretty much their sole marketing effort and it worked.
I’ve always wondered how freelancers use Starbucks and other coffee shops to network with potential clients. Living far outside Chicago in the suburbs, I’ve never frequented these establishments enough to form relationships with other freelancers or offsite workers. And since as a Girl Born in 51 I am probably considerably older than most of the self-employed people in these settings, it’s seemed even more uncomfortable.
Do you approach people in deep concentration over their work? People socializing with others? Limit yourself to people next to you in line?
Do you get to the (sales) point in your first conversation? Make casual chatter for days, weeks or even months before moving in for the kill?
Yuck. Not for me.
I see how this gets the message out far and wide without being pushy
Perfect for introverts.
Actually, at the height of my freelance writing business, I specialized in the insurance industry. My best prospects were not at the local coffee shop.
I’d probably adjust the approach slightly by wearing a T-shirt to professional insurance meetings and conferences that said, “I write about insurance. Hire me.” Or “I write about insurance. Ask me.”
I would not say, “I write insurance. Hire me.” The reason is that “writing” insurance can be confused in the industry with underwriting or even selling insurance.
How to make it work
First, I’d have business cards on me at all times referencing my website that supported my freelance writing business.
Second, I’d collect cards from anyone initiating a conversation about my services. I’d ask them to connect with me on LinkedIn later that very day.
Third, I’d manage the conversation by getting them to talk about what they need done as soon as possible.
Elevator speeches get boring pretty quickly. Plus you can go off in directions of no interest to the other person if you don’t know what they are looking for.
So ask them about their business and the services they want. People like to talk about themselves more than they like to hear windbags go on about themselves.
Tailor what you say to what they need. Assume that until you learn otherwise, people want customized work done quickly, by deadline, with a minimum of handholding and “issues.”
If it appears there may be a match, offer to talk further and prepare a proposal with price.
If there is not a match, explain this as well. Save them time. Furthermore, you may be able to suggest someone else in your network who can help them, doing a favor for both the compatriot and for the prospect. All for the good.
Look at all the advantages of this approach
It puts you in touch with new contacts. You aren’t a nuisance; you don’t have to go after people aggressively. They will let you know if they are interested.
It initiates relationships. And it’s free!
Thanks to Gordon Dymowski for the idea. Read his full explanation at his blog, One Cause at a Time.
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