Client Dating 101

How is a solopreneur like someone in search of his perfect mate? Well, they are both looking for contacts; they both need to present their best attributes to the “market”; and they both need to use a number of approaches to identify and connect with prospective, um, clients. Both want a long-term relationship, although the solopreneur isn’t asking for monogamy; she plans to cultivate a number of devoted clients rather than One Perfect Love.

So, what approaches should solopreneurs take in their search for the ideal client(s), similar to the tactics of the singles searching for love?

Go where the boys (or girls) are. If you are looking for a man who enjoys the outdoors, attend a fly-fishing class or join the local Sierra Club chapter. If you are looking for clients who will love you for your ability to analyze their market and industry, go to meetings and conferences where these information-hungry prospects will congregate.

Hang out in the virtual spaces where your mate is likely to be. Do you have a passion for 1970s sit-coms? Do you know every back road in Tuscany and travel there every summer? Or, as an infopreneur, do you want to find competitive intelligence managers who will need someone with your expertise to track down elusive information? In either case, hook up with fellow aficionados on social media, in real life through Meet-Up or professional conferences, and on discussion lists or anywhere else your people are likely to be found.

Have a virtual presence that your prospects are likely to find. For singles, that might mean having an engaging profile and some flattering photos on a dating app. Infopreneurs should make sure their web site presence includes enough information to compel someone to call, and that focuses on benefits, not features. In other words, design a presence that demonstrates the benefits of calling you, rather than one that just lists your availability and vital measurements. “Single Female, in search of warm-hearted individual for fun” isn’t going to garner you many high-quality dates; “We’ll research anything” isn’t much more compelling.

Network like crazy. Most people find romantic interests through friends and colleagues; make sure that all your friends know that you are single, available, charming, wonderful and well-behaved. Likewise, remind your existing clients that you welcome referrals of colleagues who might be interested in your services, and who would like to subscribe to your blog, download your white paper or follow you on social media.

Always look your best. If you’re single, make sure you don’t leave the house in a funky t-shirt and oil-stained jeans (unless that’s the type of person you want to attract). Always be ready to meet Prince(ss) Charming, wherever he or she finds you. By the same token, present a professional “face” whenever you are out  either physically or virtually. Respond to voice mails and emails promptly. When you are at a meeting or conference, always dress professionally. You don’t want to stand out by being the one person in cut-offs and a t-shirt when everyone else is in professional dress.

Don’t rule out a potential date based on his or her appearance alone. She might not be your ideal body type, but she may turn out to be the one for you, or know someone who is. And that client who looks like he would never be big enough to need your services? He may be a great referral source, and he might land a big contract and suddenly become Mr. Desirable.

Identify volunteer opportunities where it’s likely that you will find people of similar interests. Can you write? Do you like animals? Offer to help with the newsletter of the local animal shelter. Don’t have a lot of time to commit? Volunteer to help staff the next 10K race that benefits a charity you support. And if you’re not looking for a like-minded single person, you can still apply your skills in a volunteer capacity, and surface your infopreneur skills to the people you contact there. The other volunteers and the people who work at the organization will have an opportunity to get to know you, learn about what services you offer, and be wowed by your charm. And you also can feel good about giving back to the community.

So, go out there and start marketing yourself or your business. Who knows… you may wind up dating your next client, or start providing consulting services to your next date.

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