1. Start with friends and family members who need a job done or know someone who does.
While you might hate the notion of working too close to home, this is usually the fastest way to get started. Your friends and family members (or someone they know) are the same people other consultants are advertising to so why ignore them as a prospect?
Just be sure to avoid mixing business with pleasure here and don't work with people or their referrals if they are already well known to be a pain in the back side. My first client was a referral from a friend.
One of my favorite clients is the father of my son's best friend--we think alike and he has never been a pain, and is good with prior agreements--in other words a gentleman. I asked for his business card, saw his URL, visited it, saw he didn't even have a site, just had his URL on his card and closed him the same day. It's been a good relationship to date. I also treat him like royalty by the way--have to keep that friendship going despite the business dealings.
2. Advertise online... Facebook is a good place to start. You can also do Google and Yahoo PPC. And you can focus on ads on any location or country you want. Facebook got me prospects the same day. Not closed them yet but they are in my sales funnel for less than 9 cents for 1,000 impresssions. Not a bad investment even if I don't close them for 10 years--some prospects will be on your list for a LOOOOONG time before they buy a single thing.
3. Cold calling is not necessarily a bad thing. It has got me prospects and clients in the past. But I would rather just go with referrals these days. To get prospects, go through your local paper and magazines for advertisers, pick up flyers etc, get their numbers and/or addresses, call, visit or drop off letters/proposals.
4. Take part in neighborhood networking events, also a great place to find clients.
5. You can also try blogging about your skills and knowledge, this will attract some prospects for sure.
6. Cold emailing and cold texting--not too keen on these, though again, they work for some. Just don't do blasts, pick and choose and make your emails/texts targeted to specific prospects.
7. Make friends with your next door neighbors (depending on your neighborhood) many of my prospects and some of my clients are neighbors I struck up conversations with. This can be tricky too especially if the relationship goes bad so be very careful with who you make offers to and be very professional about any dealings.
8. Talk about what you do to people in your networks (I talk about my skills at church when I get a chance and this has gotten me a few clients). Some people will actually ask other members of your network and get you as a referral, this happens all the time. So make what you do known without being pushy or salesly and be ready to help others in the same communities, this always comes back to help you.
9. Do offline advertising, newspaper and magazine ads, flyers etc.
10. Hold your own seminars--free or pay-to-access (you'll need to advertise offline and/or online to get the word out).
11. Get in the news for something awesome you can do for your local community, try to get interviewed on radio and/or TV. Set up interviews yourself and post them online in video, audio and PDF.
12. Put some great resources e.g. links to sites people would really benefit from, share mind blowing free advice. Add your "resource box", burn the info on CDs, print your contact info on the back of the CD and give these away in any way you can on and offline. Drop them off via courier to local businesses, share them in your neighborhood, other communities.
13. Offer to speak for free at local meetings, seminars etc. It's a great way to help local businesses and to let people know you're an expert they can easily reach for further assistance.
14. Create products/services that have nothing to do directly with offline consulting and market those. Then market your offline services to the buyers you attract. I once did this with a piece of software I had created that helps individuals and business owners manage their finances and make income projections etc. Got my biggest client to date after marketing this product. You can do this by writing and selling books and ebooks too.
15. Once you HAVE a client list, USE your clients to get more clients. This is where I currently spend much of my efforts.