I’ve recently been asked this question twice in the last few days. Both times the professionals asking the question (a lawyer and an accountant) were newly qualified and keen to bring in their own clients. However, they were finding that their inexperience was counting against them. It’s the million dollar question facing many keen, but young accountants, lawyers and consultants. How do I quickly build up enough credibility so that I can win my own work.

This is the advice I gave to the two of them:

What are you going to be famous for? Or what will your thing be?

Decide on what you are going to become famous for? If I do a quick internet search for you, I should be able to find you on LinkedIn and see easily what you are a specialist in. If I can’t find you, then your potential clients can’t find you either. They will want to check out your credibility independently of your firm on-line.

Look around your firm, where are their areas of growing specialisation, or other fee earners growing out of their specialism? For example, when I interviewed Carl Reader, Partner at Dennis & Turnbull, for ‘The Go-To-Expert: How to be recognised, valued, booked and in demand for doing what you love’, he told me that he had initially built up a specialism for martial arts clubs. A partner in his firm had a portfolio of 30 clients, and he worked with this partner to become the firm’s and marketplace expert for martial arts clubs. Over time he then broadened his specialism from martial arts clubs to franchising.

Build your profile and visibility for ‘your thing’

Once you have decided on your thing, you need to build a footprint and reputation for your thing. Until you have some real clients you are working on for ‘your thing’, you are going to need to research, talk and write about ‘your thing’. This will help you to build your profile and visibility with the clients and intermediaries that could give you work. This is going to be a large amount of spade work on your part. (This was the route I followed to become know as the business networking expert for professional service firms)

This will involve branding yourself for your ‘thing’ (and committing to this), in addition to writing and commenting about ‘your thing’. At this stage, it doesn’t matter if your thing is quite a narrow technical speciality and/or audience you do it for. (Remember Carl started with a tiny niche, martial arts clubs.) You can expand your focus later.

Click here to download our free ebook "The reluctant business developer's guide to winning clients". (email required)

Only once your have built up a ‘brand’ and ‘profile’ for your thing will you get to the point where clients may come to you for some help.

Leverage off others to quickly build your credibility and get a foot in the door

Your own credibility is going to take time to build. One way of taking some short cuts is to work with someone in the industry who has bucket loads of credibility. This could be someone in your firm or someone in your network with a complementary skill set.

Realistic timescales

Rome wasn’t built in a day – and the same can be said for your reputation and profile. If you work hard at building your reputation and profile, it is realistic to expect that you should see some reward for your labours within 6-12 months.

What are your tips for winning your first client?

To find out whether I can help you read ‘is this you

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Click here to download our free ebook "The reluctant business developer's guide to winning clients". (email required)

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