Dream clients: First Contact

First contact is the most critical stage in acquiring a dream client. If you get this incorrect, it will completely devastate your chances.

Welcome to part three of the series about how to work with dream clients. If you missed previous parts, you can check them here and here.

In part one, I talked about reputation, portfolio, unique value, and skill excellence. The second part was about defining the company and the contact person.

Today, we'll discuss the research part and how to approach the first contact.

Let's do it!

Company research

When looking for a small company (as I did), Google is your best buddy. To begin making possible matches, you must thoroughly research the industry you've chosen.

If you know any directories or industry sites that you can use to speed things up for you – do it.

You can begin locally if you live in a large enough market or are looking for a nearby company.

It's worth noting that as you drill down your search results, you'll find greater success. Companies with strong brands, reputations, and marketing will appear on the first pages of your search. 

However, these are usually the organizations that want your services the least. You may have to sort through 10 or 20 pages of search results before you uncover the treasure. 

It would be best to look for clients who are successful in their own right but are still struggling in areas where you may be of the most value to them.

Create a large spreadsheet. Make a list of the organization names, websites, and contact information for the potential hiring person. 

I didn't do this at first, and then I couldn't remember which companies I had contacted and which I hadn't. Keep track of everything from the start.

Narrow down

When you finish searching, go back through the list and qualify each organization.

  • How many points does this company match from your dream client definition?

  • Can you identify where they need your help?

Mark then one's you feel are the most promising matches. Make notes about what is most appealing to you about them and where they're struggling the most.

My example

I'd picked a dozen organizations where I'd want to work, but their websites were grossly insufficient. I was surprised by how many excellent (and large) companies have outdated websites. It wasn't difficult to select a strong group of targets who needed my help and who I'd be happy to work with.

Now we must investigate deeper into each organization to choose who we should speak with. According to my definition in part two, I wanted to work for a large but remote organization where I could work from wherever I wanted while being connected to the team. I knew who I needed to talk to, so I started looking up their websites, LinkedIn profiles, and other resources.

You'll also need to figure out who you'll send your first message to. The last thing you want to do is send an email and not know who is on the other end.

As a result, you should have a spreadsheet with a long list of possible prospects. You've marked the most promising candidates and collected contact information for the clients you want to approach initially.

First contact

First contact is the most critical stage in acquiring a dream client. If you get this incorrect, it will completely devastate your chances.

Are you ready to contact those dream clients you identified previously? Take a deep breath.

Call or Email?

Without a doubt, I prefer email. It is a less obtrusive and async mode of communication. When you call, you put the other party under pressure to think on their feet and make decisions on the spot. It is the extreme opposite of what you desire.

When it comes to significant decisions, those who are under pressure are more inclined to say no.

Remember when you could text a friend instead of calling them? Unless it's an emergency – which ours isn't – I advise sending an email here.

An email is asynchronous. It can be read and reacted to on their own time. This is excellent. They're going to be skeptical, so we'll do everything we can to put their minds at ease. We must deliver our message in the appropriate setting.

Be sure to send these as plain text emails, without HTML, ConvertKit, or MailChimp. Nothing could convey the idea that this is a bulk email or even remotely spammy.

How to craft a message

Four words: Be genuine. Get personal.

This first communication has five critical components, and you must have them all working in sync and in the correct order to enhance your chances.

  1. Address

  2. Your hook

  3. Introduction

  4. How you can help

  5. Call to action

Let's deconstruct what the ideal email includes

  • Address your email to a specific person. You are talking with a live human. Make use of their name. Write as if you were speaking to them in person. Be true to yourself. Be direct while remaining polite. Make use of a meaningful email subject line. Don't come out as desperate or spammy.

  • Your hook must have a genuine, meaningful relationship with the person or company you're attempting to reach out to. Tell them how you first learned about them or your first encounter with their products or services. Tell them why that is important to you – what is your involvement in the business or industry? This is done initially to distinguish you as a legitimate question rather than a spam message.

  • Introduce yourself. What's your name? What do you do? Where are you located (to ensure I'm not an overseas spammer)? What can people do to learn more about you and your work? Be concise. This isn't your autobiography, so that a few phrases will be enough. Be confident without seeming pretentious.

  • How you can help. Outline, in broad strokes, where you believe your target consumer may require your services. Make one or two specific suggestions on how you may assist, and then leave it at that. You might feel tempted to speak too much here. I strongly urge you against it. You're not attempting to make a hard pitch right now. This is merely a starter to get the dialogue going. Offer just enough information to let them know you've thought about it, but no more than is essential to capture their attention.

  • A call to action is critical. What should people do if they've read thus far and are interested in learning more? Do you want them to email you back? When is the best time for them to call you? Video chat? What about meeting for coffee? Outline your desired next steps quickly, but allow plenty of room for the recipient to proceed in the most comfortable way for them.

I'm collecting several email templates that worked for me. If you're interested in getting them, DM me on Twitter, and I'll let you know when they're ready.

Note on communication strategy

Don't send an email to every good prospect on your list right away. It is preferable to send them in small groups. This will assist you in managing answers. What if a substantial number of them end up finding new jobs? 

You should start a conversation with a small number of them so that you can handle the flow of leads if all goes smoothly. After you've completed the follow-up cycle with the first group, move on to the next.

It's best to hold off on communicating with your favorite leads and instead start with some second-tier leads. This will be pretty challenging because you may be overjoyed over the most intriguing prospects. However, you may discover that it takes several rounds to refine your message to receive the best reaction. You want to give yourself enough time to compose that winning email before squandering your finest leads. Take your time.

When you receive a response, note the date and type of reaction in your spreadsheet so you know which ones to follow up on.

But what if you don't get a response?

I the next part, we'll cover how to do a proper follow-up and close the deal.


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