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The Secret To Nurturing Relationships With Your Freelancing Leads

Last week, we covered how to win over people you meet at networking events (read this first if you missed last week.)

Today, I want to cover how to cultivate these new relationships… automatically… while you’re off snoozing.

This is part 2 of 6, and we’ll culminate with getting Mary — the business owner we met last week at a networking event — to become a paying client (as if that wasn’t obvious!)

Part 2: Nurturing Relationships

Goal: To over-deliver value to everyone who becomes a member of our network at scale.

By value, I mean things that leave Mary thinking, “Wow, that Brennan, he/she really knows their stuff!” Mary will look at you as an authority and an expert, so when she is ready to buy from you (or refer you to others) — you have the upper hand.

By scale, I mean delivering this value to Mary automatically over email. We’ll be using autoresponders to do this, which is just a fancy way of saying “Wait X days after someone joins my list, and then send this email.”

What can you teach that will establish your authority?
If you’re a designer, this might be a sequence of articles about the role of great design, and how design can measurably improve sales. Focus first on the end goal: What do you want Mary to ultimately learn from you? And if she knew the importance of design, would her hiring you (when the time comes) be easier than if she didn’t?

Write an editorial calendar
Once you’ve come up with a learning outcome for Mary, it’s time to split it up into multiple emails that build off of each other.

You’ll want to experiment, but start with a broad overview or a story of what you’ll be covering, and start each email with “The last time we talked, I told you about…” and close each email with “In a few days, I’ll be writing you again, this time to show you how you can…”

Create a spreadsheet that covers what you want to write about, and try spacing your email course over a month, and a total of 8 emails.

Spreadsheet Columns:
– Offset (how many days after signing up do you send this email)
– Subject
– Points covered
– Key takeaway
– Bridge (how this email will transition into the next email)
– Optional Call-To-Action
– Open rate (%)
– Reply rate (%)
– Unsubscribe rate (%)

Also, it’s probably a good idea to have your first email start with something like, “It was great meeting you the other day…” — We want to bridge that first meeting with the first email you deliver.

When do you want to ask for a sale?
We’ll get to this later on, but the answer is “not now.” We won’t be saying, “Mary! Hire me!” when we start emailing her.

Once Mary realizes we know our stuff, the final few emails will have call to actions that encourages Mary to book a meeting with you. We’ll cover this in a few weeks.

Get Started!
1) Sign up for a Mailchimp account
2) Create a new list, call it “Audience – Real Life”
4) Create an autoresponder for each item in your editorial calendar (“Autoresponders” on the top right)
5) Write the content for each email. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, you can tweak it over time
6) Go out, meet people, deliver some immediate value, and add them to your list

Next week we’ll look into how to track, test, and tweak your email course over time — so stay tuned!

  • Hey Brennan,

    Great article.

    I have a question. Continuing along with your Mary example, would Mary know she was receiving automated emails or would she believe she’s receiving personal tips?

    I only ask as I believe it would be polite on Mary’s part to email you back after you email her the first time after your meeting. Thereafter, there may be a danger that you come across as impersonal as you’ll have written your second email without taking into account her response, don’t you think?

    Looking forward to the rest of the series.


    • Brian,

      Great question! I don’t ever advocate masking the fact that someone is receiving an automated email. The most obvious way to do this (which I practice) is to preface your autoresponders with “You’re receiving this short message because… Not interested in learning about X? You can unsubscribe with one click at the bottom of this email.”

      My personal emails will always include my full email signature, and my automated emails won’t. However, an automated email — a newsletter, or an email course — doesn’t need to be transactional… a one-off email from you to them. It just needs to be personal, a package of value that you’re delivering to enrich Mary or whoever else.

      So in summary: Opt Mary in at the networking event, verbally let her know she’ll be getting an email sequence overviewing some best practices that will help her business, and let her know you’d love her feedback and encourage her to write back (again, still verbally at your networking event.) Considering you’re selling a high-touch service (consulting), it can’t hurt to send out a transactional email after a sequence is up saying something like, “Hey Mary! I hope you enjoyed my email course — what’s one thing you’re going to do different in your business as a result? Anyway, I hope to see you around town sometime. Will you be at the next Chamber networking group?”

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