8 unexpected places to find your next client or customer

It’s simple.

If you solve a pressing problem or have a story to share that moves, ignites, provokes, heals or amuses people, you can find your tribe. The first step is that you have to really believe in what you’re selling. In fact, don’t think of it as selling. What is the mission behind what you do? I don’t care if you’re writing a book, offering massage services or developing enterprise software. Why do you do what you do? What will others gain from it?

That’s what is interesting. That’s what gets people hooked.

Now, take that mission, that story, and bring it to these 8 unexpected places to capture your next client or customer. Or better yet, think of it as “to capture your next client or customer’s imagination.”

  1. The elevator: Not just the networking luncheon or conference itself, but the elevator. Classic place to engage one on one. Often, people are feeling a bit of trepidation going into a big conference hall or luncheon alone. So start the conversation with one person while you’re both trapped in this big metal box.  This is how I met one of my favorite colleagues with whom I exchange business referrals. In the span of one minute, she and I connected based on our passions and missions – and even found out we both had written books.
  2. LinkedIn groups: I posted a comment in an Indiana University alumni group once and a week later got an email from someone, saying he liked what I’d written and asking to chat about his company’s current project. Really. It was that simple. Same thing with another group recently, where someone contacted me after I posted a helpful comment. Of course, make sure your comment is insightful, adds value without asking for anything in return and related to what you do. That helps.
  3. Guest blogs: Reach out and share your expertise with others in related fields. Who really resonates with your brand? Who rocks your world? For whom do you think you can be a missing puzzle piece and add value to their community? Make an effort to guest blog at least once a month and this will open you up to so many more potential clients or customers.
  4. Your butcher, baker, candlestick maker: So often, we tend to separate our personal lives from our professional lives. For the longest time, I didn’t reveal to anyone outside of “work situations” that I had written a book about how to create a brand strategy. I thought they might not “get it” or wouldn’t care out of context. Why? That’s just stupid. Why not tell your massage therapist, your Crossfit buddies or your local UPS Store owner what you do for a living? You’d be surprised at how often people whom you think would never be interested in your business actually know someone who needs what you’ve got. Margit Crane, ADHD Coach and co-founder of Good Enough Parenting threw a fit with a restaurant and the owner called to apologize. After talking a bit, he hired her to be an ADHD Coach for his family
  5. Personal business transactions: Selling your house. Buying a car. Renting event space for your teen’s graduation party. Why not talk up your business to someone with whom you are already engaging in contracts? @ywpresidente, CEO of social networking start-up hub site, YourWorld.me  tweeted me that he turned the guy across the closing table for his house into one of his best clients.
  6. Vacation: While we often let our hair down on vacation and try to do as much as we can to unplug from our work, there are times when an unexpected opening may present itself. Be prepared – and make sure you are always keeping your personal brand in mind, even when “off the clock.” Kelsey Foster, a dating coach and author, found a new client while dancing with her cousin and a Michael Jackson impersonator in Vegas at 4 a.m.  Some people came over the chat with her and – boom – she gained a new client.
  7. Random bump-in: Publicity expert Nancy Juetten had a chance meeting with someone she had worked with before at a natural foods market.  After catching up, she said, “Call me next week to chat about a project” and offered her card. Nancy followed up, and they worked together for several years. ALWAYS remember to follow up!
  8. Volunteer committees: Writer Tina Christiansen worked on a convention committee for a car club. The committee chair was also president of a company and, after getting to know each other, they hired Tina and became her very first client.

If you believe in what you do and why you do it, client/customer opportunities are everywhere. Be prepared! (Tweet!)

Where have you unexpectedly met a future partner, client or customer? Got a crazy story to share about how this came about? Please share in the Comments!

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