Step-by-step plan from acquisition to contract

This step-by-step plan helps you with acquisition, finding clients and securing assignments. Skills like networking, bargaining and presentation are important.

1. Find potential clients

Decide what your target group is and where it is located. Are they companies or individuals? Which characteristics and interests do they have? Do you mainly find them online, through your network, or within a cultural institution, for example? You can find assignments via the internet, by word of mouth, or for example in professional magazines. Use your network, both online and offline, and do not forget your previous clients either. Find out which brokers or intermediaries you know who bring clients and entrepreneurs together.

Make sure that potential clients can find you online. Social selling via social networks is growing in importance. Use the social media above all to profile yourself as an expert in a particular field rather than to sell.

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Revenue models

2. Make the first contact

Be well prepared, find out about your client and think of what you might be able to mean to him or her. What are your unique qualities? Which advantages can you offer? Adapt your pitch to the person in front of you and to his or her needs. In the case of cold acquisition, you do not know the potential clients and they do not yet have any idea that they might be interested in you. Warm acquisition, when you know the client, works better because often you already know where the demand lies and you have a relationship of trust.

Explain briefly why you want to contact them, including a CV or portfolio if possible. A potential client will often want to get to know you better first before giving you an assignment. Show who you are, what you make and why, how you tackle things and what inspires you. There will not be any assignment unless you can mean something for each other.

3. Present your proposal

Indicate briefly what you intend to do and how, why you have undertaken it and what your considerations were. Show what the result is, how you meet the assignment requirements, or which problem you are solving. Your presentation must be in line with the content and scope: presenting a design is different from presenting a series of lessons or a scenario. If you use a computer, video or beamer, make sure that the equipment functions without a hitch. It is always worth doing a try-out presentation to honest friends. A presentation is also about personal contact: you must get on and speak the same language.

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Specifying values

4. Record agreements

If the assignment goes ahead, you can work as a self-employed person or in paid employment. Each form has its own advantages. What is the budget available for the assignment? How do you determine your own price and enter the negotiations? Work out for yourself the least and the most that you hope to get out of it and ask colleagues about their agreements. Besides money, an assignment can also yield something in the form of a good network or artistic development. If your client does not have much money, you can also think of alternatives such as barter or postponed payment. Be as realistic as possible and build in reserves.

5. Maintain contact

Maintain good contact with the client during the elaboration stage. If you are not given the assignment, try to find out why. In any case, keep the contact positive so that it may come in useful in the future. Even if you are given the assignment, it is important to maintain contact with the client afterwards. Even if you are working on other assignments, do not neglect acquisition; this will help to reduce the risk of finding yourself without any work. For instance, you could send out a newsletter now and then to let your network know what you are working on.