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You need to become visible on social media, at events, etc. It takes effort, but I think it’s absolutely primordial, because otherwise people just don’t know who you are.

A few tools for effective prospecting

Solenne Niedercorn-Desouches, Non-Executive Director and Senior Advisor in FinTech/VC, podcast host

The first pillar: your network

It’s easier to start a business in an industry you’ve already been working in for some time. If I had started a food business, for instance, it wouldn’t have been quite the same experience. So, what I say to every person I meet, especially the younger ones, is that you need to take care of your network. As years go by, you need to cultivate your network, acquire contacts, etc. And through this network, you will see needs emerge and people will refer you to other people. It’s very much a matter of being referred to. The first client influx comes, as it happened in my case, through former clients or acquaintances I had worked with in the past.

The second pillar: being visible

There’s a second aspect that might seem obvious, but people don’t do it spontaneously, it’s making your voice heard. This means being a speaker at events, writing articles… People need to identify you as someone knowledgeable in your field. The problem is that people won’t give themselves this voice. Why? Because oftentimes, if these people were employees for the first half of their career, they haven’t been encouraged to voice their opinion on things. No one’s ever pushed them, so they’re scared to do it. You see, people are scared, but even if it’s just liking a post or leaving a comment… you have to push yourself to do it. It’s not much, but little by little, you make your voice heard and you start from there. If you do that regularly, after a while, you will become visible on social media, at events, etc. It takes effort, but I think it’s absolutely primordial, because otherwise people just don’t know who you are

Third possibility: creating business opportunities

The third thing you can do is, so to say, to “hobnob” with providers who have clients that could be interesting for you, and to go meet them… It’s a bit similar to the network thing, you have to make those opportunities happen by meeting the future members of your network, the people who are in your direct environment and who can bring clients to you. You shouldn’t be scared of failure. Your entire life, be it personal or professional, will be sprinkled, not with “failures” but with learning experiences! It’s truly a learning experience, and it is counterproductive to take it personally or to see it as a failure. If doors close on you, and a lot of doors will be closed on you, it means something was off. Either there wasn’t a real need, either it was too early, either too late. So, you really need to ask yourself the question every single time: Okay, it didn’t work – now why? Did the problem come from me? Was I not clear enough? Was it just not the right time for them? etc. That’s why you need to try as much as you can. And actually, for startups, the way to test your market is to run POCs, but you have to do this in consulting as well. So, trying a lot of things, pitching your project all the time, pitching yourself when you’re an independent and seeing what works and what doesn’t… Where the needs are. It’s the only way.

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