When I first decided to work for myself, around March 2015, I didn't have any clients.

I didn't even have a website or active social media accounts (well, other than an inactive and outdated LinkedIn profile)

It was pretty much ground zero.

So, it was time to get started. At the beginning. Website first, then I could start telling people about it.

But once you've got a website and a few social media accounts... What do you do next? It's not as simple as just posting a link to your website and sitting back in wait... The wait will be very long, I promise you.

Start talking to influencers

Well, the first thing I did was to think where my customers would be having conversations, and how I could join them.

I researched who they would be influenced by... Who would they follow? What podcasts would they listen to? Which authors did they read?

All of these are great places to find the people who need what you sell.

Here's an example of what I did. I thought that my customers would be mainly startups or people who are interested in 'starting up'.

One influencer I knew to be popular in this sphere was Brad Burton. He was super-active on twitter too, so that was my in.

I looked at who he was talking to, who he was following and who had recently followed him.

I found the people who were engaging and not always pitching what they did... Then I followed them.

Over time, I started to talk to them more and more... About anything, current events, but mostly, about what THEY had tweeted.

Starting conversations with the right people is how you build an engaged following. And an engaged following is how you create opportunities, for everyone in your tribe.

Another great tip is to offer a 'skill swap' with people who can give you exposure.

Influencer marketing is how many brands are 'cleaning up' on Instagram. They spot celebrities, models and general 'influencer' types (anyone with an audience) and they pay them to post pictures with their product.

Consumers trust ads less and less these days, but they trust their idols.

Using influential people to spread your message should be a key strategy for any business trying to capture attention.

I targetted podcasters who had great content and a solid audience base, but a poor logo/identity, and proposed a deal to them.

I offered them a logo and podcast cover image in exchange for a mention and advert on their show.

It was a win-win for everyone involved. I got a new logo for my portfolio that was live in the real world... And the owner of the podcast got an identity that can help take them to the next level.

I did this with four podcasters when I first started out, and two of them bring me referral work pretty often.

Even now, when I'm booking projects a couple of months in advance, I'm still looking for pro-bono opportunities.

Very often they have far greater value than just cash... They can start conversations with new people who may appear to be out of your reach.

When you have something that influential people need, you should tell them.

Be humble, be respectful and take an interest in THEIR goals and THEIR mission.

If you can present what you do as moving them towards their goals, then you'll find that they are pretty receptive to what you offer.