Finding your first clients as a freelance : key success factors



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The number of freelancers in France has exploded between 2009 and 2020*, a trend fueled by the Covid crisis and the rise of home office. As a result, freelance consulting is becoming increasingly commonplace. But beware of rushing into things, and think carefully before taking the plunge.

In the first episode of our "FocusTribes Tips" series, we talked about how taking the time to talk to professionals who have already taken the plunge is an important first step.

In this second episode, we tackle a second key question: how do you find your very first customers? We had the opportunity to chat with Olivier Herlet, Associate Director at FocusTribes, who shares his tips to take the plunge !



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"Ideally, we'd all like to start in a familiar environment," underline Olivier, emphasizing the importance of starting a new business in a local environment.



Ideally, it's better to start by tapping into existing contacts, such as former colleagues and managers, who can be a valuable source of recommendations and potential projects. Moreover, they know the value of the consultant's work and expertise, and are therefore more likely to be interested. Many consultants go freelance by staying with the same employer, but simply changing their status. Considering the shortage of talent, it is sometimes more attractive for a company to keep a former employee by switching to freelance status, even if the daily rate is higher, than to have to start recruiting again.


Former partners you've met in previous roles can also be an invaluable resource, as they can recognize work that has already taken place, and are therefore likely to make recommendations to other companies or colleagues who may need the same skills. Don't underestimate the power of networking! It's essential to cultivate your network by spending time arranging informal get-togethers, over coffee for example, to catch up and let people know you're getting started!



Collaborating with business partners can also be an effective way of finding customers. By building strong relationships with trusted partners, you can access a wider network and increase your chances of winning business.

My advice," adds Olivier, "is to find partners like Focustribes and make yourself known.

Partners like FocusTribes can play a crucial role in connecting the freelance consultant to a wider, quality network. Working with trusted partners can also boost credibility as an emerging freelance consultant. In addition, it provides an opportunity to share issues and best practices, and to feel less isolated.


Olivier also stresses the importance of letting people know that you're available and that you're entering the freelance world. This means not forgetting to work on your visibility, particularly on social networks, by updating your CV on LinkedIn for example. Make sure you also add recommendations from previous collaborators and managers, or highlight your key skills and certifications. This point is just as important as the others, as it will increase the attractiveness of your profile.



Olivier warns against handing out your CV to strangers:
"A word of advice: don't distribute your CV to people you don't know, it's still an important asset when you're self-employed."

The CV is a key element of professional identity, and its distribution should be strategic rather than hasty. By sharing your CV with unreliable people, you expose yourself to seeing it distributed freely on the Internet, without controlling its destination or use. This is why it's so important to surround yourself with reliable partners who will pay close attention to your employees' data and won't make any mistakes.


It's important to choose your partners carefully beforehand, to avoid spreading yourself too thinly, and to focus on high-performance partners who remain loyal to you. Of course, this depends on the market, and it's normal to open up more easily to new partners when the market is tight. On the whole, however, too much dispersion can be misperceived, time-consuming and, above all, counter-productive, whereas a careful choice of partners is a guarantee of quality.



In conclusion, finding your first customers as a freelance consultant takes time and thought. The ideal first step is to sound out your existing network, but that's not always enough. That's where trusted partners like FocusTribes come in, helping to open new doors while letting people know that you're ready to take the plunge. The most important thing about freelancing is to be extremely demanding when it comes to your partners and the quality of the relationships you forge. Don't forget, too, that your CV is a valuable asset, and its distribution must be targeted. You need to expand your network gradually, starting with people you know, and learn to identify reliable contacts. By following these tips, success in a freelance consulting career will be within your grasp.


To find out more : 
- How to prepare to become a freelancer: Expert advice
- Optimize your CV: tips & tricks for freelance consultants
- 5 key success factors for driving transformation


* Sources : Eurostat 2020