Approaching Companies for Work

Approaching Companies for WorkYou’re ready to start contacting potential clients. Equipped with a targeted business offer, a strong portfolio, a website, and business cards, it’s time to announce your availability on the freelance circuit.

Approaching companies can be an exciting time. It can also be a nervous time. Get it right and you’ll start your freelance journey with lucrative work. Get it wrong and you’ll splutter onto the scene.

Below is a brief list of questions to ask yourself before approaching potential clients.

Are you allocating your time efficiently?
You need a system for identifying your most promising leads, so you don’t spend valuable time chasing red herrings. One simple system is to separate potential contacts into two groups; high-status and low-status.

Ask yourself what sort of contact would constitute as ‘high-status’ in the area you work in. This will depend on your design offer and the location you cover. But some sectors will always be more profitable than others, such as the technology sector or areas of business such as marketing. Profitability should inform every decision you make.

Are you keeping track of the people you are contacting?
You need a system for tracking your marketing activities. If you don’t keep organized notes of who you are contacting and when, you may inadvertently ignore some leads and accidentally pester others.

Are you positive about prospecting?
The telephone is likely to be your most effective self-promotion tool. But if you don’t believe telephone prospecting will work, it won’t.

The fact is, telephone prospecting really can get results. If you believe in it, your enthusiasm will pull you through.

On the down side, telephone prospecting is unlikely to get you an assignment straight off. That’s because people often treat cold-callers with natural skepticism. People only let their guard down when a prospecting freelancer becomes familiar. So the secret: don’t try to do too much all at once.

Break down your initial contact into smaller steps, asking for an actionable response each time. So instead of asking for an assignment in your first call, simply introduce yourself and ask for permission to email a link to your portfolio. In your email, ask for a meeting. At the meeting, ask for the assignment.

Are you client-focused?
You won’t win assignments by talking about yourself. You’ll win them by discussing your clients’ business needs and demonstrating how your design offer is relevant to them.

If a contact agrees to meet you for a chat and a browse through your portfolio, make sure you prepare a pitch based on the contact’s business environment. Personalize your pitch. Which page of your portfolio will the client be most interested in seeing? What should you show first, second, third? What additional aspects of your service will the client find appealing?

Keep yourself organized, remain persistent, and always think about the business needs of the people you are pitching to.

The above article is adapted from Shaun Crowley’s new book The Freelance Designer’s Self-Marketing Handbook, available for download at

The Freelance Designer’s Self-Marketing Handbook shows you how to:

  • Develop a persuasive business offer.
  • See your best ever results from prospecting.
  • Write a hard-working website.
  • Get your business into the newspapers.
  • Build a reputation as ‘designer of choice.