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Every day you have dozens of conversations, and each week a few of those are with people you don't catch up with on a regular basis. During those conversations, by asking thoughtful questions in your area of expertise, you'd be surprised at how many times they can turn into a potential client. This is a story about how a random conversation, not a sales pitch, turned into a client.
How this happened to me
I was in New York visiting family and working from a co-working space. It turns out, the co-working space was actually an early stage start-up that was turning restaurant spaces into co-working spaces during the day.
Given how small the company was, the Head of Operations of the company happened to be there, and sponsored a Happy Hour for the folks working there. I was curious about their business, and so I went over to talk to him. We got to chatting about the company, how they'd originally tested their model, and I started asking questions about how they were thinking about expansion, launch, and scale. As I asked curious questions, I dove into areas where I'd become an expert at Uber.
As we talked, I asked questions and listened intently to his answers. As we went on, he started to have thoughts about the deeper areas less and less, and eventually turned it around on me, asking me what I thought they could do. This was the perfect entry - I could answer his question, reference my Uber experience (I launched Miami and Milan for UberEATS, and launched Uber Freight in the US), and help him think about how he'd scale the business efficiently.
Without an intention of selling myself, I gave him tangible thoughts for his business, I validated myself and my experience, and I teased a way I could help with their business.
Immediately, he gave me his card and told me to email him to set up time to talk to see if we could work something out.
You never know who you'll meet or how a conversation will go. Whether it's with an old friend, past manager, or stranger at a co-working space, asking curious questions around your area of expertise does a better job "selling" than any sales pitch you'll ever try.