As the world adjusts to life with COVID-19, businesses are laser-focused on keeping the lights on. For some, that means triaging their business continuity strategy and directing resources where they’re needed most. Other businesses are pivoting to new markets and sales strategies. And many organizations need talent to scale up and bring skills to the table—which means new opportunities for independent professionals.
But how can you find these opportunities and jump on them when you have the chance? Let’s take a look at how you can market your services to clients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Find the best approach
Particularly at a time when many businesses are hustling hard just to find their way forward, the best approach starts by serving your clients first. So, as the saying goes, try to walk a mile in their shoes:
- What’s happening within their industry right now? What about their region?
- How have their competitors responded to the crisis?
- How has this particular company responded and what actions have they taken publicly?
There are many different ways to drum up business, but context is always important—and at the moment, it’s critical. Being proactive can pay off but this may not be the best time to aggressively start cold calling companies you want to work with. Here are four softer ways to help get your name out there.
1. Rethink how you position yourself
Businesses are in transition and, with research and creativity, you may discover that you can leverage knowledge that’s adjacent to your core skillset. Consider that:
- Teams that are usually co-located suddenly find themselves without an office—or the infrastructure needed to keep everything running smoothly.
- Stores have rapidly shifted from brick and mortar to eCommerce, but may not have the insights to quickly get the right technology and distribution systems into place.
- Health-related organizations need a way to quickly and effectively share information, updates, and tools, but they may not know what their options are or how to choose.
Your core skills aren’t the only asset you have. The value of your experience, as well as industry or community knowledge, can help you position yourself as a remote work specialist, technology consultant, or subject matter expert.
2. Watch for opportunities
The most direct way to find potential clients is to watch for projects that fit your expertise. For many businesses, finding skilled professionals is a time-sensitive priority and they’re turning to their networks and sites like Upwork to find the right talent. Make a habit of searching for great job posts and submitting proposals. It may take patience for you to close your next project, but with time and experience, your efforts will gain momentum and bear fruit.
3. Reach out to previous clients
When you invest in your clients’ success, it helps build a relationship beyond the occasional transaction. And, sometimes, the timing of a message is just right for new opportunities with a business that’s already familiar with you and your work. Have you read news that could have a direct impact on their industry? Did you spot a trend that could lead to new revenue for them? Leverage what you already know about their business to share something that might be useful.
4. Let your network know what you do and that you’re looking
Word of mouth referrals help small businesses thrive. But in order for your network to help you need to give them something they can work with.
- Be clear about your unique selling proposition: What you do and why companies should work with you specifically.
- Make your info easy to share. Whether you have a webpage, Upwork profile, or Instagram account, it’s easier for friends and colleagues to help sell your services if they have something concrete to share.
- Tell people that you’re looking. Your success isn’t top of mind for other people—but they’re often happy to help if they can through referrals or providing a heads up if they hear of something. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Plan beyond the current crisis
How well do you remember January and February of 2020? Things change quickly and as the pieces of our new normal fall into place businesses will emerge from a state of flux and settle into a new routine. As you pursue new projects, don’t let your other marketing efforts stall out. Plan ahead so you’ll be prepared for what comes next.
Until then, keep your sales efforts simple, thoughtful, and focused. Good luck!
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