You’ve made the decision to productize your service — you know it’s the first step toward scaling your business and gaining more freedom.
But a big question you might ask yourself before you hit that “launch” button is, “How am I going to attract my first customers?”
Recent research into productized services has shown that networking is the number one way to reach your customers and get business.
Zero in on your network to kickstart your productized service business
While networking can be daunting, it’s a fantastic way to utilize the connections you’ve made to build business relationships and gain opportunities.
Productizedstartups.com interviewed 65 entrepreneurs who have successfully productized their services, and the majority mentioned that utilizing their network helped them create successful businesses.
Take Josh, for example. He started up a digital marketing agency for plumbing and HVAC companies and turned it into a $375k/month business.
Despite finding his niche target market, Josh realized that he needed to turn to his network to identify businesses he’d worked with before and convert them into his first paying customers.
“I reached out to people I’ve worked with in the past and said:
‘Hey, you know, I’m starting a new business. I really think we can help you; love to chat again [. . .] Here’s where you’re at today. Here’s where I think you could improve [. . .] How does it sound?’
“And I’m signed up right on the spot.”
Wondering where to begin? Let’s discuss five things you can do to get the most value out of your network.
5 steps to leverage networking and attract your first customers
- Call on existing relationships
Networking isn’t about selling, but about building relationships. The purpose of using your network to grow your business is to make use of relationships you’ve already established in order to gain customers.
People are more likely to do business with people they know and trust, which is why tapping into your network, like former colleagues or businesses you’ve partnered with, is such an effective way of growing your productized service business.
“Our first users were relatively easy to get, as we tapped into leads from our agency business,” said Sophia Solanki, who built a $100k/year hiring platform for content writers.
- Remember that networking is all about give and take
Networking, at its heart, is an exchange. You’re reaching out to your contact because you need help growing your business, but it’s essential to outline how your service can benefit your client.
It’s not enough to have an excellent productized service; you need to articulate your offering. Prepare a short-and-sweet elevator pitch that conveys what you do and why a prospective customer should choose you.
- Attend local and virtual networking events
Current circumstances have made physical meetings difficult, but attending regular virtual networking sessions or seminars is a great way to build your network.
Niya attended networking sessions in her hometown to build connections and gain her first customers for her web design business.
Feeling nervous? Check out Entrepreneur’s tips to help build your network if your contact list is looking a little sparse.
- Make the most of social media
One of the best ways to build and maintain relationships in your network is to focus on social media. Platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter are great for connecting with and researching potential customers.
Maintain an active presence on these platforms by sharing your work and your product. Potential customers may notice you and reach out before you do. Often, these conversations can lead to business conversions.
Kevin, who built a $1122/month WordPress support and maintenance service, said, “Typically, there are people who need help in most small/solo business communities. Meeting people in groups has resulted in new business.”
Groups like ManyRequests’ Facebook group are ideal for building your network and learning more about productizing your service.
- Don’t neglect the follow-up
If you’re still building your network, you can’t forget this vital part of networking.
Send a connection request on LinkedIn to any potential customers you’ve met — virtually or through work — with a personalized message asking to keep in touch.
Be sure to consistently reach out every so often, either by directly contacting them or engaging with their content.
Always remember: No matter how you go about it, networking is only effective if you build a relationship before pitching your productized service.
Your first clients are closer than you think
Getting started doesn’t have to be complicated: By following the networking tips above, you’ll not only start lining up your first customers, but you’ll also be setting the stage for limitless earning potential for your productized service business.