By Andrew Neitlich

The best gigs to get, and how to get them

By Andrew Neitlich

This week a client hired me for a substantial project. It is fascinating and informative to look back on how they became a client, and to keep peeling the onion:

They heard about me when they saw me speak to an organization in a similar field, and called a few months later when they had a need.

I got to speak at that organization thanks to some work I did with a similar company the year before.

I got to work with that company the year before due to a referral from that company’s bookkeeper.

The bookkeeper at that company learned about me when I did some work for a small company where she moonlighted as a part-time bookkeeper. Even though she had nothing to do with the project (except paying my invoices), she liked me, and we kept in touch. It turns out she knows lots of people in companies that I target! So she has become a source of referrals.

I got to work for that small company after doing some strategic work for an association. The owner of that company was a member.

Finally, I won the strategic work after nurturing a relationship with that association and speaking for free to their members.

From start to end, this process took about 4 years. And now clients contact me thanks to a track record of good work, visibility, and solid results. That’s easily the most rewarding way to get desirable projects and clients.

It’s also predictable. You can’t predict who will call you, but if you deliver strong results, and know how to ask for referrals, you will get projects in this way.

How are you doing with this type of marketing?

  • It just shows the need for thinking long term when it comes to marketing. Always treat people with respect. You never know who will be a door opener down the road.

  • jgoddard

    That’s why networking is so important.

  • I think I’m in the middle of this type of marketing. If you strive to provide good service it will only help you later. It definitely takes patience, though. 4 years is a long time to wait, but I’m sure the payoff is worth it!

  • Referrals and networking are definetly a huge source of clients. In our company approximately 23% of our clients come from advertising. Every other client we have either came becuase of personal contact in the community or was a direct referral from an existing client. Treat your clients like gold!

  • LesSigma3w

    Completely on the page with you here, the majority of our clients are from past contacts, not sales at all…

    Networking is the key to a good business in a services field.

  • jason

    i am also learning this wonder as a new business owner. i did a favor to a friend 2 years ago and because of that he realized the skills and work ethic i possessed. since then he has handed my card and mentioned my name to hundreds of people, and now over 75% of my current clients have come as his referals or the referal of his referal. he has since enjoyed many a steak dinner.

  • Good Networking with similar interest gives excellent reference and in return more project.

  • JMorrow

    Definitely. I’ve received the highest results from networking with industry leaders and gurus. The reason? They have huge networks of powerful people that can bring you a lot of business. When they give you a recommendation, it can give you an enormous boost in credibility and multiply your revenues by several times.

    For example, I did a speaking engagement for an industry leader in my city two weeks ago. I’ve been developing a relationship with this fellow and his friends for over a year now, slowly building trust. From that one speaking engagement alone, I’ve received over $5 million of business in two weeks. The industry guru was so pleased with my performance that he booked me for another speaking engagement next year… 10 times the size of the last one.

Get the latest in Entrepreneur, once a week, for free.