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Consulting is one of the most attractive options for entrepreneurs. Businesses and individuals will pay lots of money to people who can help them achieve more. However, because consulting is such a desirable business, it’s also a crowded field. It can be difficult for consultants to stand out from the pack and land new clients. Luckily, there are several proven ways to get around this obstacle.

Most consulting businesses get started thanks to referrals. These can come from friends and family, or from clients. Typically, client referrals are the best. Family and friends’ vision may be clouded because they like the entrepreneur. Clients, though, base their referrals on results. One great way to incentivize clients is by offering them a referral bonus. This could be a discount or a cut of the fee from new clients.

Asking satisfied clients for testimonials is also a great idea. Adding these to a website can be a wonderful way to lend legitimacy to a new consulting business. When clients are willing to go on the record for a consultant they’ve used, it’s a big deal. Be proud of client testimonials. Don’t be afraid to showcase these in marketing materials. They cut a lot of ice with potential clients.

Using social media is also a good idea. It’s one of the most important marketing tools of the moment. Networking through Facebook and LinkedIn is a proven way to make new connections. As a consultant, it’s important to be positioned as someone who has answers. This should be reflected in contributions to Facebook discussions. LinkedIn offers personal and public ways to connect with a market. Make it a point to follow up with people who like or comment on posts through the messaging function.

Finally, don’t forget the basics. In any business, it’s important to have a succinct pitch at the ready. Learn to quickly, efficiently explain the value of consulting services. Use examples of how much ROI it can provide for clients. Offer concrete proof whenever possible. Always do a discovery call with potential new clients. Not everyone will be the right fit. Don’t be afraid to say no to anyone who seems likely to be a problem client. It’s never a good idea to ignore a red flag.