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Get Hired on the Spot: How to Meet, Pitch, and Close Clients in Person

When was the last time you met a potential client face to face?

Maybe it was at a networking event, conference, seminar—all potentially terrifying places to look for potential clients if you’re an introvert like me.

When I started my own freelancing-to-freedom project 5 years ago, I was abso-friggin-lutely terrified of wasting 10-15 hours of my life per week client-hunting in habitats where few potential clients dwelt.

“How am I supposed to prove how valuable I really am?” I wondered. “What’s it going to take to get people to want to hire me without lowering my rates?”

Meeting potential clients in person or online? Here's how to get hired on the spot.

Through intense trial and awful error that involved more late-night venting sessions in Facebook groups than I’d like to admit, I came to an epiphany — my entire “sell my services” game plan was focused on me.

When I waltzed into an event where potential clients might be — or I finally landed an audience with the Dream Client at her office — my thoughts revolved solely around them hiring me, not the results I could offer them.

Thus, I missed every opportunity to actually cultivate my prospects’ desire for my services. The concept of a compelling personal brand never even crossed my mind!

Since re-tooling my approach, I can now walk out of events with 3-4 people begging to get a meeting with me on their calendars.

In the past year alone, I’ve used this technique to close over $50,000 in business (in person) in just this past year (again, this coming from an introvert).

Here are the exact steps of the process for you to follow, too:

Step #1: find the “Groupie Zones.”

As a freelancer ready to get out there and grow your business, your first assignment is to put yourself in “Groupie Zones” — places where your target market hangs out often and in large numbers.

Free seminars, Meetups, and professional organizations are good places to start.

Pro Tip: Avoid general business networking where you might meet potential clients. Instead, aim for venues where you’re certain to meet potential clients.

For example, if you’re a freelance health blogger, there may be healthcare industry tradeshows near you, full of healthcare providers interested in building their credibility online.

Step #2: mingle with intention.

As you exchange pleasantries with folks you meet in the Groupie Zone, listen closely for “tip offs” that your conversation partner has traits in common with your ideal client persona.

For example, if you’re a freelance course creator and the person you’re chatting with says, “I really wish I could spend more time building my first e-course, but the crazy deadlines at work keep me there on weekends,” you know you’ve got a candidate.

Step #3: get curious.

Because you don’t want a reputation as the needy freelancer who’s in “Always Be Closing” mode, become insanely (and authentically) curious about the people you meet in the Groupie Zone.

Pro Tip: There’s a thin line between inspiring self-disclosure that helps you qualify them, so giving off creepy stalker-y vibes that will doom any chance you ever had with them.

Your intention in Step #3, therefore, is to help the potential client trust you as:

  • a person who genuinely cares about them, and
  • an expert in your field who offers legitimate direction (not empty tips)

To get your potential clients talking about where they could best use your help — and ultimately inspire them to want you to pitch your services — ask your prospect this series of questions:

(a) “What do you enjoy most about [area of life / business your service helps]?”

At this stage, the prospect begins to feel a bond forming with you — you’re taking your precious time to show that you care about them. You actually want to get to know them as a person, not just toss a business card at them and move on to the next prospect.

(b) “Where do you really want to take [area of life / business your service helps]?”

This is a form of the Neuro-Linguistic Programming trigger called “Future Pacing,” where you get the prospect to imagine how awesome it would be to hire you.

But instead of *you* applying the trigger, you’re inviting your conversation partner to “future pace” themselves by dreaming of a world where their goals are achieved and problems solved.

(c) “What hurdles are getting in the way of your progress in [area of life / business your service helps]?”

This is where you apply a subtle psychological tactic recommended by persuasion strategist Robert Greene, author of The Art of Seductioncultivate the emotion of discontentment.

Ask clarifying questions to learn more about the frustrations and pain points in your prospect’s world. That way, if you sense they’re a good fit for your services, it will be abundantly clear to them why.

Once the prospect has shared their biggest dreams and most troubling struggles with you in detail, you combine them both VERBATIM in your final question. . .

(d) “If I could demonstrate a process to you so that you achieve [insert EXACT words they used to describe their goals / dreams] and overcome [insert EXACT words they used to describe their pains / frustrations] would you be interested in chatting more about that??”

Notice the word “chat” here — it’s not “sign up for my free consultation” or “schedule an appointment at your office for me to pitch you.” No, you’ve constructed a bond in just a few minutes, so you’re going to “chat” — like real friends do.

Step #4: apply the Future Pacing trigger yourself.

At this point, your prospect is chompin’ at the bit to learn more about this process you’ve hinted at, so avoid outright sales-speak like, “So, here’s what I do…” or “My services include…

Instead, simply describe how your freelance services transports the prospect from Point A (their answer to question d.) to Point B (their answer to question c.)

Pro Tip: Imagine you’re creating a “Table Of Contents” for your service where you walk through prospects through what they’ll be getting from you, “The moment we start work on this project together, we’re going to deal with [X obstacle]. Next, we’ll set up a strategy to increase your Average Customer Value…”

And there you have it, a word for word script to actually land clients in person. No cold calling, unabashed pitching, or integrity forsaking required.

And there you have it, a word for word script to actually land clients in person. No cold calling, unabashed pitching, or integrity forsaking required.

QUESTION FOR YOU

Leave a comment below and tell us — How can you use this conversation script yourself as part of your in-person marketing strategy?

Joshua Lisec You know those high-paying clients everyone wants? Marketing strategist and copywriter Joshua Lisec shares insanely detailed strategies for consistently finding and pitching clients both online and off at BeyondFreelance.com. Joshua recently appeared in Side Hustle Nation to show freelancers and side-hustlers how to “human-nature proof” their daily productivity.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • I love the idea of “table of contents”-ing your services instead of a canned sentence about what you do. This whole strategy does a nice job of gaining the trust of your TA!

    • Hey Emily,

      Very good, you’re absolutely right about the trust factor — all about differentiating yourself from below-average shmucks that the client would regret hiring once they get back sub-par work. It’s our job to save them from such a demise through hire quality offerings. The TOC helps show them that. 🙂

  • Joseph,
    I am an introvert too. I wonder if you have a recommendation for how to politely move through an event and maximize the number of people you get to meet(i.e. network with intention). I always get engaged in talking to only one or two people and feel impolite when I have to move on.

    • Hi Ginny,

      I have shared in the struggle. For me, it’s not necessarily the number of people to meet so much as it is the quality of them.

      A one-to-one conversation is always better than a crowd of random folks (since you can’t ask the juicy questions of Step #3 in that context).

      Where there are booths, name tags, or any such indicator of the person’s organization or profession, I look for those that are even remotely related to industries where I could potentially mine clients from. Then, the ole meet-n-greet with a soft smile and warm handshake. After the first few questions, you will know quickly whether or not they are a *potential* potential client.

      For events where individuals are schmoozing about randomly, I’ll tell you what I did at a 750-person event in California.

      Before and after conference sessions, I looked for groups of 4-5 people gathered around the conference center. Most of these were conversations that had gotten sparked by a shared interest, so I’d politely join the conversation to listen to the ongoing chat. If I heard anything from anyone that stretched onto my *potential* potential client radar, I’d stick around to introduce myself formally to whoever the person(s) were.

      Does that give you the tip you’re looking for, Ginny?

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