When you’re prospecting for new clients, whether you’re looking for agencies or direct clients, it’s always good to find a human connection. It’s easy enough to go through the “front door”:
-Apply via an agency’s website
-Send an e-mail to a company’s info@ address
It’s not impossible to get a response that way, but it’s unlikely. You can increase your chances of success with new clients by using LinkedIn as a back door. Here’s how that works:
- Identify a potential client. It doesn’t really matter if the client is an agency or a direct client; this technique works for both.
- Search the client on LinkedIn, and on the search results page, click People. This will give you the profiles of people on LinkedIn who have that company in their profile, and the current employees are usually listed first.
- Start by just connecting with a few employees. You can add a 300-character message to your connection request. You can say something like, “Hello Melissa, I hope you’re doing well! I’m an English to German translator specializing in patents, and I’d love to connect.” This strategy is particularly effective if you do an in-demand language, specialization, or service. If you’re a…patent translator, conference interpreter, transcriptionist, if you do Indonesian, anything like that, mention it in your initial connection request.
- Particularly if you are that person with an in-demand skill, some people will immediately direct you to the next step: “Send your CV to freelancers@…” “I actually think we’re going to translate our annual report into Japanese this year, e-mail… and tell them I referred you.”
- If that doesn’t happen, wait a day or two after the person accepts your request, and then message them (you can do this once you’re connected on LinkedIn). I like to keep this message direct, low-key, and friendly. “Hello Melissa, and thanks so much for connecting. Would you happen to know if (name of entity) is recruiting for English to Japanese translators right now?” or “Hello Melissa, and thanks so much for connecting. I noticed that you recently expanded your operations into Senegal, and I can imagine that there might be a need for a French to English translator. Would you be the correct person to speak with about offering my freelance services?”
The key here is to frame your marketing efforts as: Who should I be serving? Where could my skills be most useful? Who needs me but doesn’t yet know about me? This helps you avoid feeling pushy, and instead feel like you’re reaching out in a low-key way to people who might benefit from what you have to offer. This strategy was one of the key pieces of my conference interpreting marketing strategy this Fall; it didn’t take much time and produced good results. I’d recommend it particularly for anyone who has a specialization, language combination, or service offering that is likely to grab a potential client’s attention in the initial, short message.