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  • Diana Schneidman

Great lists to ID local freelance and consulting prospects

Actively searching out leads to phone for freelancing and consulting assignments can quickly devour lists of names. This means living in ongoing name-collection mode.

Local chambers of commerce can feed the beast with easy-to-find, data-rich lists that include contact name, address, phone, website and description of services. The lists generally are easily searchable by industry as well. Furthermore, the companies have paid for their listings, so while the lists are not comprehensive for a community, they are current and indicate companies engaged in at least minimal marketing activity.

The lists, of course, are easy to find. Simple search “chamber of commerce” and the name of the community in your search engine of choice.

Some companies join multiple chambers, including those in neighboring cities. So watch for dupes. And search C of C websites beyond your own community’s.

One obvious way to use the chamber is to join and post your own practice on their website. Another is to attend networking events and widen your range of acquaintances. (Note that as with most networking opportunities, you may not need to join to take part. Test the waters before mailing in your check to determine if membership justifies the expense.)

For many people, the best way to use the chamber is to review the membership list to select potential contacts who may need your services. But especially in a small community, you may find very few in your target market.

And what to do with these names? No surprise here: I'd phone them.

If you have narrowed your target market, why hang out at networking events that no one on your list may attend? The exception is programs that explore topics of interest to you, such as administrative, taxation or marketing issues. In other words, the program may be useful.

But I detest marketing activities where I see no potential payoff for me. (I know that sounds selfish but it's simply the truth for most honest marketers.)

So if only a small number of leads appear on the chamber membership list and the agendas for meetings do not speak to me, I get right to the point and phone the people I can serve.

I'd consider them to be warm leads. I start out by saying where I got their name and how I also live in the area and then proceed with a typical cold-call conversation.

During your call, you may request a meeting to pursue mutual interests. This can be a much more efficient use of your time than a typical milling-around networking event.

Some freelancers and consultants only meet with prospects in person when a real project is in the offing.

If a brief conversation suggests they don't merit an in-person meet-up (and you don't feel like lunching with them just to initiate a relationship), you don't have to do it. Simply say that you don't want to take up their valuable time now because you can advise them better as their ideas develop.

Hey, it's your life. Take control of your networking activity. Use your time in accord with your social preferences and to do what has the best chance of working for you.

Originally posted 4-20-10

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