The search for consulting clients is becoming more competitive, with the consulting market set to grow steadily into 2026 and likely beyond.
In honour of our Consulting Partner program, we’ve decided to look at some ways you can get new clients as a new or experienced consultant.
You may have tried some of these before and even attained success in some. Other methods below may be new to you and worth a shot. You never know where you might find your next big client!
Let’s dive in.
How To Find Consulting Clients As A Beginner
Attracting clients as an independent consultant is hard enough – it’s even more difficult when you’re new to the game.
It is possible – others have done it, and so can you. The traditional route is to start as a junior with a firm and earn your chops first – but if that’s not you, buckle down and get ready to do the hard yards yourself.
Whatever you do, always focus on providing value to your clients. Let’s look at some best practices for attracting clients to your business.
Build An Ideal Client Profile
A good starting point is to build a profile for your dream client. This is the individual who could most benefit from your services – and that you would most enjoy helping.
Take your time and think about their pain points, online habits and how you can best serve them. Go into serious detail – add a photo and name if it helps you better visualise them.
Here are some points to add to your client profile:
- Job title
- Age range
- Business turnover
- Key pain points
- How do they use the internet and social media?
- What industry outlets do they follow?
- How do your consulting services benefit them?
- What is their estimated budget for a consulting project?
- How are they likely to advertise for consulting help?
Sometimes a one-pager can be enough, but some companies go so far as to create a sprawling, four-page document to dig deep into their ideal clients.
How do you know when you’ve gone deep enough? It’s when you can sell your service to these clients with confidence. When you know exactly what to say and when to say it, you’re done, and you can start looking for clients in earnest.
Optimise Your Consulting Portfolio
Your portfolio is how you’ll demonstrate your value proposition. No matter how good your sales pitch is, your portfolio helps back up those claims.
This can be one of the biggest challenges when just starting out since your portfolio will be empty (or close to it). There are still ways to impress clients if you’re stuck in this stage, though.
Here’s what to do:
- A portfolio isn’t necessarily a collection of finished work. Share your current projects as well. Make sure to add any early wins you’ve had and show that off to your clients.
- Consider adding your education to your portfolio. It might not be an actual project – but it might catch a client’s eye as proof that you studied hard and you’re ready to demonstrate your knowledge in the real world.
- Consider taking a job or two for a lower fee to get started. You might even want to consider pro-bono work (gasp! I said it). Don’t stress. You won’t devalue your services if you’re doing it for charity. Find a charity that means a lot to you and see how you can help them free of charge – then add that to your portfolio. Your future clients will only respect you more.
Add A Ton Of Polish To Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is a great networking tool. As an ex-freelancer, I’ve personally been approached by clients out of the blue just by optimising the profile page.
If you’re so inclined, you can dive in and build a large, valuable network of contacts and clients using only LinkedIn – but it’s always good to diversify your inbound channels.
Here are some quick tips to upgrade your LinkedIn profile:
- Choose a profile photo and background image that represents who you really are. This way, you’ll attract clients that are a fit and avoid those you’re likely to clash with.
- Use your summary to create a compelling story of who you are and what you have to offer that no one else can. Make sure your summary is driven by what value you can add to your ideal client.
- Think about joining a few groups and simply observing for a while. Try to join groups that your ideal clients are likely to be in. When the time is right, start meaningful conversations and get yourself noticed. Who knows where a simple conversation might lead!
Create A Job Board Strategy
Job boards are a skill. Even if you get lucky early, you’ll fail to close most jobs you pitch for in the beginning. But as your experience builds, you’ll get ‘luckier’, and your portfolio will grow.
Just heed this warning: DO NOT rely on job boards for your income. They’re good to get a start in, but you’ll want to move away from them about 2-5 years into your career. So start making that move the moment you join and keep your other channels top of mind.
Anyway, here are a few tips on job boards:
- Find niche job boards for your specific field and subscribe for updates. Job board hunting is most successful when your aim is sharp. Subscribing to a few job boards with highly relevant work is less overwhelming.
- Use job boards to practice your pitching. Pitching is a skill, and you’ll get better with time. This will prove highly useful as you turn to other channels (such as LinkedIn) where you need to be at your best even to catch someone’s attention.
- In the beginning, you’ll probably have 8 hours a day to prepare pitches and get yourself out there. As you take on more work, you’ll want to schedule time into your day to look for more work and keep the opportunities ticking over.
Make A High-Quality Website And Get Blogging
A high-quality, functional website is a vital tool in promoting your services. Clients will take you more seriously with a great website at your disposal.
The best part? It’s all yours for you to display your unique talents and personality to attract your ideal clients.
Here’s what you need to know about web creation:
- You don’t need to pay for a web designer when you’re just starting. It’s easier than ever to build a website with multiple options available. Just pick the one you like and go for it (We use WordPress, but Wix and SquareSpace and countless others are more viable options).
- Use Canva to create professional branding for your website and graphics to match. It’s free and it’s pretty good (the premium option gets you stock images too). A great alternative to Canva is Wepik – a solid option which is just as good (try both and see which you prefer).
- Blogging is an excellent way to get your site noticed by search engines. Take heed, it’s the long game, and it’s a skill that also takes some time to learn. You’ll need a fast site, a good inter-linking structure and keyword-focused blog posts to get ranked on search engines. Tick just those boxes, and you’ll compete for ranks in about 3-24 months. (It’s a long game, after all.)
Create A Stellar Sales Funnel
Building a sales funnel is hard work. Getting it to perform optimally is another monster altogether, with hours spent testing, tweaking and researching new strategies.
Once it’s running optimally, a sales funnel can give you an incoming stream of consistent clients for years to come.
A funnel can be broken down into four stages, namely:
This is the first touchpoint that your client has with you. This would be blog posts, podcasts, guest posts, speaking gigs or any other widespread public introduction to your business. The goal is to make your client aware of your solution to their problem.
2. Interest & Evaluation
In this stage, you’ll engage with and qualify your potential clients. Perhaps you offer something free – like a guide or ebook – in return for their email.
Now you have direct contact with them and can send them more helpful information for free, and perhaps special offers from time to time. This part is all about getting them to trust and respect you as a value-adding consultant.
Once you’ve built trust, your ideal clients will become interested in your services. Here’s where you could offer a free or low-cost 30-min session to see if you can help solve their problem. And if you can, it’s time to pitch the solution.
Success! You’ve reached the right person, and a client has taken action. They either book a call, ask for a pitch or outright buy your service. Now all that’s left is to get them across the line and start solving their problems!
This is, of course, a very rough guide. We could write a book about sales funnels (in fact, several books have been written!)
Just be sure to follow your ideal client profile and create sales funnels that’ll interest them. Have a ‘lead magnet’ (the free resources to capture their email), a good nurture email sequence that builds trust, and a great closing strategy.
Build these out, and you’ll be testing and tweaking new things in no time.
Remember: One Step At A Time
Try one of these methods at a time. Start by building your ideal client profile, then slowly work through the methods. Trying everything at once is only likely to overwhelm.
Once you find what works for you, automate it as much as possible and move on to the next thing, and you’ll be swimming in clients in no time.
Now we’re going to look at a few methods established clients can use to attract more ideal clients.
How To Find Clients As An Established Consultant
It’s easy to think that finding clients is easier when you’re established. That’s sort of true, but at this stage, it’s all about finding the right clients. This can be a little more tricky than finding clients just to fill your portfolio.
Let’s take a look at some best practices.
People, in general, are nice. So they won’t mind helping you out if you’ve given them excellent service – but a small kickback could make them even more likely to help out.
For example, you could give the existing client a small discount on their next project, as well as offer a discount to the new client if they’ve been referred. Everyone wins, and you’re more likely to get those referrals.
Just make sure to plan those discounts into your current pricing models so you don’t lose money.
You could also offer free coffee, online shopping vouchers, etc. It’s up to you and what’ll appeal best to your ideal client.
Create Shareable Resources
Ebooks, guides or white papers are all great ways to attract clients to your business and build trust right away. If, however, you focus on making them easily sharable and share-worthy, you could even reach clients you never dreamed of finding.
That said, these resources take time to create. Once they’re created, however, they’re out there for good. They can keep netting you clients for years down the line. So take the time, and create something viral.
Remember to add your contact details to the resource you create!
Make Use Of Your Email List
If you’ve been in business for a while, you likely have a good few email addresses lying around. Just because you’ve completed a project for these clients doesn’t mean they’ll never need your services again.
Keep in touch, send them useful information and, every so often, let them know that you’re available to help if they have any specific problems at the moment.
You never know, your next ideal client might be one from the past.
Host Free Webinars Aimed At Your Ideal Client
Webinars are great. You get to help clients while showcasing your expertise and building trust. That said, they’re much like the sharable resource – they’re time-consuming.
You can’t just hop on and hope people will ask the right questions to make an entertaining, informative webinar. You’ll need to write a solid script about a topic that will attract your ideal client.
You also want to leave yourself plenty of time to promote your webinar. We suggest 30-90 days to get plenty of exposure.
Don’t pre-record your webinar. Record it live, and you’ll have another resource to add to your repertoire. You’ll also be able to send the recording to those who couldn’t attend because, let’s face it, sometimes life happens.
Avoid a poor webinar at all costs. If you get tons of attendees and deliver zero value, all you’re likely to do is tarnish your reputation. If you go this route, focus on value at all costs!
If you just cringed at that subtitle, you’re not alone. Most who prefer to work independently don’t enjoy the prospect of networking. However, finding the right partner can be lucrative.
For example, if you offer safety consulting to manufacturing clients, it only makes sense to find someone who provides a similar service to the same client pool. For example, you might want to find a production or financial consultant who also targets manufacturing firms.
Make contact, have a chat, and soon you could find yourself in a mutually beneficial partnership. It doesn’t take much effort to maintain such a relationship – but ensure you’re holding up your end and making your clients aware of your partner’s services in case they need them.
You’ll help your partner, and your partner will help your client – everybody wins.
And who knows, you might get a stream of clients from such a partnership very soon.
Improve Your Value With New Tools
What if you could deliver your solutions in the form of mobile apps instead of paper? What would that mean to your clients? What would that mean for your own admin?
This is what we at Appenate offer – a simple drag-and-drop industrial-grade app builder. It’s not the only helpful tool on the market, however. You could find other digital tools that could further benefit your client.
For example, for detailed reports, there’s PowerBI; for shared file-hosting, there’s Google Docs, and the list goes on.
We’re saying that it can be helpful to embrace technology on behalf of your clients. That way, you can offer them a solution that might appear more comprehensive to them.
If you’d like to learn more about Appenate itself, here’s a recent case study in which we explore the journey of an Appenate Consulting Partner.
Sustainable Growth Is Key
There can certainly be an element of ‘hustle’ when finding new clients, especially for rookie consultants. It’s just part of the game.
Whatever you try, remember to take notes and make what works repeatable. That way, you can soon look forward to an endless stream of clients.
We recommend building out a great, value-adding sales funnel. It can take a lot of time to get it just right, but once it’s up, it’s out there for good.
If you’d like to explore Appenate some more, check our Consulting Partner program page here.