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.
I agree that networking among other VAs is important. I’ve forged relationships where fellow VAs are willing to promote each other in the service areas they do not provide. It’s also an opportunity to learn from each other.
I am really curious how to “pin point” my target audience. Because when I put keywords in searches I don’t feel I am getting the specific audience that I am looking for. I am looking for educational professionals. I am looking for sales educational training professionals. Can you provide me anymore suggestions on what other keywords I may be able to search for them? Or other ways to search?
Kathie Thomas says
Ok Marla, the key is to pinpoint what your target audience does and then go there. For me it was business coaches or professional speakers so I located their industry based networks (such as the National Speakers Association) and then attended their networking events.
Your ‘category’ is still very wide. What do your educational training professionals teach? What topics? You mentioned sales but again sales in what? Perhaps you need to continue narrowing it down so you get to something more specific.
Or seek out training institutes or industry associations and go from there. I hope this helps.
Sherra Scott ~ Virtual Assistant says
That is excellent advice Kathie. Just joining social networks does about as much good as just buying a car. Unless you put gas in it and drive it around, it doesn’t do much good! And in the age of Web 2.0, people tend to forget that you can network IN PERSON. Yep, the good ole’ fashioned way. It takes longer and more effort (get dressed, put on makeup, fix hair, drive there, etc.), but many times can pay off in spades.
atul chatterjee says
There are those sites odesk.com, guru.com etc. You should not discount them as too low priced. Keep your rates at what you expect not what that market is dictating.
I know of a person from India with a sales background who quoted $20 per hour which was way above the going rate. A Zurich based organisation hired him on a trial basis. He did extremely well, later the whole deal for him skyrocketed.
These websites have people looking for workers, agreed usually at low rates, but then you never know.
Also they may talk to you and it may generate a referral.