You have years of experience in your field, you’ve resigned from your in-house position and perhaps even made yourself an attractive logo. The next question is, how do you find your first clients as a freelance HR consultant?
For most HR professionals starting out on the freelance path, saying goodbye to a stable salary with guaranteed work is the most unnerving element. Having to promote yourself to entice and win clients is an entirely new way of operating. However, with commitment and a robust plan in place, there will be many opportunities to find clients for your consulting business and carve out a successful freelance career.
In this article, we will look at some techniques for finding consulting clients and the most important aspects to consider for freelance HR consultants.
Tried and tested client acquisition techniques
Every HR consultant will develop their own individual plan that works with their skills and situation. However, there are a number of key techniques that should be part of every client acquisition toolkit. Below, we will look at some tried and tested client acquisition techniques that provide a solid starting point.
Target your audience
A wild, target-everyone approach rarely yields results. As an experienced HR professional, you know your skills and it is vital to ensure your message targets the people who have HR needs you can fulfil. This means analysing the market and refining your service offering to match the needs of your potential clients.
To begin with, focus your efforts on SMEs. They are more likely to outsource their HR tasks to an external consultant, as larger companies often have more in-house resources. Here, depending on the company, a more individual and less corporate approach may help you find new clients. Demonstrate the benefits your services can deliver and how you can add value by introducing cost and time savings, for example, or improving employee retention.
During your tenure as an employed HR professional, you will have gained considerable expertise and excelled in one or more specific areas. Now is not the time to try to mimic other HR service providers. Highlight the ways you do business differently. Your unique selling points make you stand out from the competition and get you noticed.
For example, a way for recruitment consultants to find clients could be to highlight their specialism in a particular sector, such as software development or healthcare, or even leadership appointments. Or perhaps you are a training provider that uses gamification to boost success rates.
As a freelance HR consultant, you no longer have to toe the corporate line as an employee. You have the freedom to use your personality as a marketing asset and create a personal brand. Whatever your USPs, make sure you harness them to enhance your profile and in turn, find clients for your HR consultancy.
Collect and publicise reviews and recommendations
Branding and awareness generation are essential for finding consulting clients, but many businesses want to see proof of results before they sign a contract. Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful tools for client acquisition, and it is crucial to make the most of it.
When you have worked with a client, it is worth asking for feedback so you can post positive comments or reviews on your website and social media channels. Ask clients and associates to recommend you to their business colleagues if they are looking for an HR consultant. Put together a case study of a successful client partnership and include it in your marketing brochure to find new HR clients. In short, always make the effort to collect reviews and recommendations to help build your client portfolio.
Present yourself like a professional
You may be new to the freelance world, but your image must be professional from day one. Audit your online profiles, both professional and social, to ensure you are portraying the image you want the world to see. A website and professional email address give a better impression than using a generic email for client communications.
You should also make sure you act professionally in all aspects that could affect your potential clients’ businesses, for example, emphasising that you follow GDPR protocols and have IT security measures in place. Companies often have to share sensitive business and employee information with HR consultants, meaning it is essential that they can place their trust in you as a professional.
Finding clients as an HR consultant will always involve networking. In today’s world, this will inevitably involve a large portion of online networking, but in-person events are also incredibly useful for building contacts. These could include conferences, specific networking events like breakfast meetups or after work get-togethers, workshops, and recruitment fairs. Try to attend a mixture of HR events, where you have the opportunity to learn from more experienced colleagues and make useful contacts, and events from your target business sectors, where you are more likely to meet potential clients.
With regard to online networking, as we mentioned above, the first step is to make sure your professional profiles are complete and effectively highlight your USPs. You can then connect with colleagues and associates, comment on relevant discussions and post your professional wins to grow your online network.
What really matters when finding clients
At the start of a freelance journey, many HR consultants are tempted to say yes to any and every project. While these first clients and jobs are key to building experience and generating a source of income, it is important to keep a long-term vision in mind.
The end goal should be to build a portfolio of long-term clients, who see you as an important part of their business and want to work with you on a regular basis. Many of these client relationships will evolve organically, as you demonstrate the value your HR services deliver. The important thing to bear in mind is that your life as a freelance HR consultant will be more successful, stable, and rewarding if you build sustainable, ongoing partnerships with your clients.
How can Kenjo help you?
Part of your role as an HR consultant is to help your clients improve their processes and make their business run more smoothly. At Kenjo, our all-in-one HR software does exactly that and we are here to help you help your clients digitise employee management. Introducing your clients to Kenjo’s easy-to-use, intuitive program is another way to demonstrate the value you can add and your commitment to improving their business procedures.
Kenjo’s Partner Programme
HR consultants can join Kenjo’s partner program to help SMEs in their network digitise their department. You can either refer qualified leads to us and we’ll do the rest, or you can take care of the whole sales and implementation process for your clients. To find out more about joining the Kenjo Partner Programme, click here.