How can you get clients for your business?
Clients come from a variety of avenues and I will discuss below where I have found clients.
When first starting a business it can be overwhelming on what to do. Read on to find out the places to find clients.
When first starting a business the best way to get your name out there is to network in person.
What is networking?
Networking is attending events both of a formal and informal nature with the intention of making contacts. It’s about getting to know people and building relationships. It shouldn’t be about pushing your services.
They can be fun but they can also be a bit tiresome.
Are networking events worth it?
Attending networking events is definitely worth it.
I have met some great contacts. Furthermore, I have met other Virtual Assistants and Freelancers. However, you should not see them as competition but as someone who you could collaborate with.
I met a great freelancer and I helped her with a project. Furthermore, she helped me out when my business was busy.
Networking when you are shy and introvert
I know networking can be daunting, especially for the introvert and shy.
I would describe myself as shy but friendly and competent.
As a result of me being shy I don’t find networking easy.
In fact it’s all about building up a relationship and trust. I am much better the more I know a person and I am sure that is the same with other shy people.
I have to say that with every event I attended regularly I was able to get clients.
One off events are a bit more difficult to find clients as you are unable to build up the trust.
Where to find networking events
To initially find networking events do an online search. So search networking events and add the area where you are located.
Once you start going to networking events people will inform you of other events going on locally.
You should be able to find enough networking events locally to find clients for your business.
Start by attending free events or relatively cheap events to see how you get on.
Free events tend to be a lot more relaxed. Generally you don’t need to stand up in front of the whole room and make a speech.
I remember a photographer who only attended free events and this worked well for him.
I would see him at most free events I attended. He would attend 4-5 events per week.
Now I’m not saying you should attend that many events unless you really enjoy them.
I regularly attended a BNI meeting for 5 months. These are meetings you need to attend every week. You also have to stand up each meeting for a minute or two and talk about your business.
I found it very formal but I did find clients. It definitely paid for itself.
While I was there a lady wanted to join who offered similar services to me. BNI only allow one type of business in a group (or chapter as they call it) i.e. one plumber, one electrician, one virtual assistant.
I was advised by other members not to allow her into the group! Later after leaving the group I actually worked for this lady’s business as a document formatting technician. So you never know when your contacts could lead to work.
The idea is that you also try to find referrals for other members. This can be quite difficult.
What questions should you ask when networking?
Show interest in people’s businesses and pay particular attention to what problems they are having.
Some good questions to ask are:
What are you most excited about at the moment?
Although it is a very general question it will help you to discover what they are interested in.
Another great question is:
What is the greatest challenge for you in your business?
This could lead onto you discussing how you could help them overcome some of their challenges.
First of all you need to attend meetings regularly to build relationships with people.
Don’t get your hopes up when people say they will definitely use your services. There will be a lot of occasions when people say that and you never hear back from them.
Always make contact with people who say they want to use your services to build up a relationship.
In addition, don’t see other Virtual Assistants as competitors but collaborators.
Have a good elevator pitch ready for anyone that asks you what you do. Focus on how you resolve the pains that people are currently having.
When I started out in 2007 people hadn’t heard of Virtual Assistants. I found it difficult to describe what I did when I was new to it. It might be best to focus on your expertise such as a Social Media Manager would say how they’ve helped clients with their online presence.
Networking is not only about getting work but building relationships. Another local meeting I attended resulted in me meeting a great freelancer. I did some work for her when she was busy and she worked for me when I was busy.
Building trust in these relationships will quite often result in them becoming clients to your business.
Friends and Family
Would you believe I have worked with all my siblings at some point.
My sister owns 2 nurseries in Bermuda. I maintain her WordPress website and regularly update her documents for the nursery. Her husband is also a freelance chef and I update his website.
For my other sister I did some typing up of flip charts that she had used in her training courses. My brother owns a shop and I set up an ecommerce website up for him.
A lady I used to work with her husband needed some CVs formatting when he started his business.
Don’t rule out friends and family but don’t forget to charge them!
Online Networking / Marketing
Virtual Assistant Forums / Groups
I joined a Virtual Assistant Group that had an annual payment.
Virtual Assistants would post jobs on there. This led to some audio transcription work from this group. The work paid for the subscription costs plus more.
Joining conversations on forums can lead to work if you can be helpful and show your knowledge.
I actually took an internet marketing course and there was a forum on there. I actively participated in the forum and was helpful. This resulted in work. I helped a guy in the US to design his WordPress site and to integrate an email autoresponder.
Google My Business
When I do a search for “Typing Wirral” the first place my business is listed is on Google Maps or Google My Business. Therefore, it is extremely important that you add your business to it. Check out the video below on how to add your business. Moreover, it’s extremely quick and easy to do.
Some businesses decide to only have a Facebook page and this is ok to start off with. Therefore it is adequate for certain businesses.
I believe for a Virtual Assistant it is important to have a website. This article, although it talks about starting a blog, covers setting up a WordPress site. Setting up a website is fairly simple. After that, it is getting traffic that can be the difficult part.
Check out more ideas on how to market your virtual assistant business.
Farewell Thoughts: Tell everyone you meet what you do. You never know when you will come across potential clients for your business. In conclusion, I have found clients through networking, friends and family, my website and Google My Business, attending courses and surprisingly online courses.