Recently a VA posted a question to a forum I moderate asking for advice about the advertising she had been doing. She listed a number of sites she’d registered with and wanted to know what else she could do. My response to her is below.
I see you’ve joined social networking groups but you haven’t mentioned if you’re active in them.
A large percentage of my clients have come through personal networking and getting to know people over time.
I began my business before the internet so attended lots of face-to-face networking events, some on a weekly basis and others on a monthly basis.
It wasn’t unusual for me to attend 6-8 events a month. It paid off over time but it was probably about 6 months before the enquiries started to come in with comments like ‘do you still do….?’ After that word-of-mouth referrals came in as different people told others about my services.
Today I network a lot online too – participating in discussions and getting to know people. I use a signature block designed for whatever that group is about. I belong to a couple of professional speakers networks (as I support professional speakers and coaches), a couple of photography networks, writers’ forums and so on. Wherever I think my target audience belongs so they get to know me and trust me and eventually ask about my services.
I also advertise in the Yellow Pages and that brings in enquiries every single week and has done so for years. Google Adwords is also effective. I’ve never tried craigslist or other similar sites.
Basically you need to find out where your target audience may hang out and then go and join them. If you don’t yet know who your target audience is then perhaps look at the skillset and services you have to offer and think about what type of industries would benefit from those things. And then go and look for industry based forums and networking groups.
Participating in Virtual Assistant forums is an excellent way to learn from your peers and gain knowledge but to get the experience with clients you need to venture out and mix and mingle with prospective clients. Finding out where they hang out is the best place to be.