Where to Meet Potential Clients … and What to Say When They Ask You What You Do

When someone refers to a B2B company, you might think of a big software company or a nationally known corporation. You might not think of the attorney’s office downtown or the print shop on the corner, but those are business service companies, too. In fact, you probably rub shoulders with B2B professionals every day without even realizing it.

When it comes to business services companies, there’s a wide variety to choose from in most towns, both big and small. Here are some possibilities to consider:

  • Printers
  • Accountants
  • Attorneys
  • Consultants
  • Corporate Event Planners
  • Ad Agencies
  • Graphic Designers
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Construction Companies

The list of potential local clients offering services to other businesses is practically endless. And there are a lot of ways you can meet these professionals.

One of the best is to join your local chamber of commerce and begin attending their events. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet, shake hands, and chat with other business services professionals in your community. You can begin to build a robust contact list at these events. Even if the chamber of commerce member dues aren’t in your budget right now, many chambers host events that are open to the public.

Another great way to meet people in the business services sector is to join a trade organization or two. Think about the specific types of businesses you’d like to write for and then check into local organizations serving that community. Join the organization and begin attending events.

If you’re brave, you can meet business services professionals by dropping into their place of business. This is best done with businesses that have a storefront open to the public. Ad agencies, event planning groups, and graphic design agencies are other places where a drop-in works well. Often these folks are so busy that you might find yourself contracted for a project on the spot.

So once you’ve figured out where to meet people, the next question is what to say when you meet someone.

Introducing Yourself With an Impact

When you’re meeting a prospective client for the first time, don’t feel intimidated. You don’t know at this point if the person you’re meeting works with freelancers, if they have current needs, if they are a hot prospect or an unlikely one. The first rule of thumb is to relax and not put too much pressure on yourself. Think of the introduction as a chance to meet someone interesting. If he turns out to be a good prospect, that’s great. But either way, it’s the opportunity to have an enjoyable conversation, and who knows? Even if he isn’t a prospect, he might refer you to someone who is.

Smile when you meet someone new. Stay relaxed, and be a good listener. Have some general questions in mind that you can ask. What he does, how long he’s been in business, how he came to be interested in his line of work, or how long he’s lived in town are all good icebreaking topics.

Be ready for when someone asks you what you do. The temptation is to simply say, “I’m a copywriter.” But because you’re a copywriter, you know how to do better than that. Talk about what you do in terms of the benefits you bring to a client. Instead of identifying yourself as a copywriter you could say, “I write marketing materials for healthcare companies that are designed to increase return on investment.” Or, “I help small businesses connect with more prospects more effectively.”

During the course of the conversation, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. You should go into the conversation with a goal. Maybe that goal is to get contact information for each person you feel is a good prospect. So, if you decide someone has potential as a client, simply ask for a business card. Again, you’re a copywriter, so you can make this request by promising a benefit. For example, “I have an article I wrote recently that I think you might find useful. If you have a business card, I can send it to you tomorrow.”

Finally, whatever contacts you make at an event or during a visit, make sure you follow up diligently. If you promised to send something in a certain timeframe, make sure you do just that. Even if you didn’t promise a follow-up, do one anyway, if even just to say you enjoyed the meeting.

Opportunities Are Everywhere

Business-to-business professionals are everywhere, and like any other professional, they need good marketing materials … and that means good writing. If you learn to be confident in a face-to-face introduction or meeting, you can make a lot of connections in your area. And those connections are more likely to pay off than those that are more superficial. That isn’t to say that using the phone, the mail, and your email to introduce your services is a bad idea, but if you can make face-to-face meetings part of your marketing arsenal, you’ll succeed that much faster.

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Published: October 28, 2008

1 Response to “Where to Meet Potential Clients … and What to Say When They Ask You What You Do”

  1. Hello Heather:
    Your article was very helpful in finding and connecting with possible B2B clients. I'm trying to fill out the picture a bit and am wondering if you could give a couple of examples of articles you might send on follow up; would these have been written especially for a business contact you might have run into--an actual B2B example of your work--or are you thinking more generically? Can you mention some possibilities? thanks, Lynn Wiley

    LynnOctober 8, 2009 at 10:51 am


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