A new member of one of my mailing lists recently asked the question, “How do I generate more leads for my small business?” Here’s my answer…

Here are some strategies I’ve used successfully:

  1. Do great work; in almost 20 years of freelancing, most of my clients have come to me by “word of mouse”. Repeat clients are always more efficient than landing new ones.
  2. Try pro bono work. Track your hours and submit an invoice showing the value of your donated services. Even if you can’t write it off, you’ll spread the word, and get a good feeling. I donate hosting to community groups, and they often hire me for some strategy or training or simple site setup.
  3. Blog; John Chow, the Vancouver blogger, makes $40k/month just from his blog, and is in demand as a speaker, writer and consultant.
  4. Learn to use LinkedIn to it’s fullest. There’s lots of hidden value lurking there. Seek out the most influential connections.
  5. In Victoria, track the government contracts. (It’s a government town, after all.) It’s hard to get in, but once you’re in the loop, I’m told it’s easier to stay there.
  6. Partner with established agencies; you don’t make the same rates, since they take their cut, but they can get you in where other methods fail.
  7. Concentrate on your niche. It’s counterintuitive for most small operators, but essential.
  8. Be patient. Closing times for new sales are about 1 month per $1k in my experience, and longer the smaller the market.
  9. Ask for testimonials, recommendations, referrals, leads… and more importantly try to provide value to your contacts by providing tips, leads, testimonials, and networking introductions.

Note that none of these cost anything but time and effort, and are applicable to businesses of all sizes. Do you have tips or strategies of your own? Share them in the comments below!