Kathie is the owner of VA Directory and is former past President of the Australian VA Association. She founded the Virtual Assistant industry in Australia in the mid 90s, having already been operating a home-based secretarial service. Today the VA industry covers a multitude of office-based services for clients worldwide.
When you’re brand new in business being able to build up a list of things to show prospective clients can be a challenge. If the line of work you’re doing requires you to have a portfolio (things to show, e.g. graphic design), or you need a set of testimonials, it’s sometimes hard to think outside the box and organise to get these in place.
You may have picked up some work here and there while you were still in your full time job but you might not be able to showcase what you’d been doing for an employer. Well, apart from asking for friends to write testimonials or making up dummy projects to showcase your abilities, what else can you do?
Enter the community groups and not-for-profits in your own area. If you start checking local newspapers, look online for Facebook pages and groups, ask at the local council and ask people you know, you’ll find a ton of groups/organisations that need voluntary help. Sporting clubs, special interest groups, industry associations, community helps groups, lots of possibilities. And so many of these groups survive because of the voluntary help they get.
So, what can you do for any of these groups? Help manage their member database, offer to do their newsletter or magazine, manage their social media, update their website and maintain it, take minutes of meetings, help organise events or volunteer lists, get on the committee and become their Treasurer doing the bookkeeping and the list goes on. Whatever is your speciality, whatever you’re good at, these are possible service offerings, either on a voluntary basis, or low rate (depending on the organisation you’re working with). There is a multitude of things that can be done as voluntary help for any number of organisations. And what’s more, once they get to know you, they may ask you to do things you don’t yet have the experience in – what a great way to gain some experience without feeling like you may be jeopardising your business and a new client relationship. Over time, you’ll be able to ask for testimonials and if what you do can be added to a portfolio, then do that too!
What a great way to build up experience, get some testimonials and in that process you may well pick up clients too. Most people involved in voluntary positions either have a job or a business, or know people in jobs or businesses. The possibility of referrals for your own business can become almost endless. Why not look to see what’s in your own area today?