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I've found the opposite. If I can sit down with a potential client over lunch, it is far easier to sell myself (especially when I first started and had few references).

I think that perhaps is a phone skills thing though? You only have to be 1/5th as good if you can take 5x as many calls as you can in person meeetings

I'd say less than 10 people have ever asked for references.

I dunno. I do a lot more long term contract work. I generally take on only one or two clients at a time in a relationship that lasts a few months. Meeting a potential client in person has never been too time consuming for me, as I only have to do it once or twice every few months.

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