Need more clients? Trade with other service providers…

George Kao
4 min readDec 6, 2017

When you don’t have enough clients, or any clients, it is important to keep practicing your skills, to keep applying it in different client situations, to deepen both your self-knowledge and awareness of the current market.

Think about the famous idea that you can become a true master of anything by practicing it for approximately 10,000 hours.

You probably don’t need another certificate or training program. See my blog post about breaking the pattern of delay in your business.

What would help you the most is to keep using your skills day by day, to become so excellent at what you do, that clients just can’t help but refer you onward to their friends.

So, if you’ve got a lot of client openings right now, consider doing this:

Trade sessions with other service providers for feedback, and you might even get testimonials and referrals.

This allows you to use your time wisely, by continuing to practice your craft, while getting to know colleagues who could become mutual referral sources.

Here’s what to do, step by step:


Look at your network and write down which of your colleagues/friends who meet these 3 criteria:

* They are also service providers.

* They might be looking for more clients, and might be open to trading with you.

* They have a network of friends or clients who are probably similar to your ideal clients, in values and needs.

The easiest way to look at your network might be to go to your LinkedIn Connections because underneath each name is their professional headline.

If you don’t have any Linkedin Connections, check out your Facebook list of friends.


Contact the ones that meet all 3 criteria above, and offer to trade 1–2 sessions with them, so that you can:

* Give each other thoughtful feedback on what’s working great and what might be improved.

* This way, both of you have experienced each other’s service and can be better referral sources to each other.

* If it feels right and appropriate, give a testimonial to each other, which can then be posted as a: LinkedIn Recommendation, Facebook Review, Google Business Review, and, if the business has a physical office, a Yelp Review as well. This will improve your online presence.

If you’re wondering: “Why not reach out to influencers who don’t necessarily need any clients, and offer them a free session, rather than a trade?”

As someone who might be considered somewhat of an influencer — and gratefully my practice is full at this time — I personally don’t like being approached like that, because I would feel obligated to do something for them as well. I think it works much better when you trade sessions with those who, like you, also need more clients.


Schedule and do those traded sessions. Make a real type of session that you would do for a client, not just an exploratory/discovery call.

Give each other thoughtful feedback on what worked well, and what might be improved.


If you really liked their service, take the initiative and offer them a testimonial. The best is a 1–2 minute video. If you’re not comfortable on video, just a written testimonial can be very helpful.

Let them know they are welcome to put it on their website, and ask if they would like you to also put it elsewhere, such as a LinkedIn recommendation, a Review on their Facebook Business Page, and/or a Review on their Google Business Page.


Ask them if any of their friends/colleagues come to mind that you can also trade with.

If you liked their service, also take the initiative to look through your network for colleagues to introduce to them.

Be sure to ask both colleagues, before you make the introduction to each other. Let’s say you just traded sesisons with Anne, and you’d like to introduce her to Bob, Claire, and David. Send Anne a brief email that includes the names, websites (if available) and any relevant info about Bob, Claire, David. Ask whom she’d like to be introduced to. Let’s say Anne picks Claire and David. Then you should individually email Claire, and David, separately, and give them info about Anne and see if they’d like to be introduced. Only when both parties say Yes, do you make the introduction. This is good networking etiquette that a lot of people forget to follow!

If these steps resonate with you, go ahead and apply them, and let me know how it goes!

If you have any questions, comment below.

You could even make the offer, by commenting on the corresponding FB video, to trade with others who might be reading this article.

May this method bring you more clients and mutually-supportive connections!

George Kao

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity"