On one of the LinkedIn groups for VAs a new VA asked about getting started and landing her first client. Some had been giving her advice about her LinkedIn profile. Below is my (edited) response to her.
At LinkedIn people prefer to see photos rather than an illustration. So you might want to consider changing your profile pic. Your LinkedIn profile definitely needs adding to. Have you tried Googling your name? If people knew about you and were looking for you, the results that come up should be able to tell a story about who you are and what you do. So your profile here is important.
Work at building up your connections list too. From there you will be able to get recommendations over time. These same recommendations can be copied to your website and listed as testimonials.
Networking is very important, but it’s not just about networking online, it’s important to do it offline too. Ivan Misner (founder of BNI) talks about 7 different types of networking groups and recommends that we all, in business, should belong to a minimum of 3 of those groups. You’re already a member at LinkedIn with your peers, that’s one type of networking group. You need to work out what type of client you’re looking for and seek out networking groups that they might belong to. And then perhaps look for a local community group – one where you can give back to community, either with your time or your skillset, or both.
Gaining exposure and letting people know what you do takes time and needs to be a concentrated effort. Now that you’re in business every decision you make, what you do daily, will have an added component on how it might affect your business and how it can add to it. You take on a new persona and you’ll find that this new persona will start to show up in everything you do.
Everyone you meet face-to-face either has a job or a business and all of these will have potential contacts for you. It’s just a case of learning how to tap into that.
So reading the archived messages here, joining the organisation which owns this group will be good things to do as you grow your business knowledge, and then honing your skills and learning who would benefit most from those skills will assist in the development of your business. It is a journey and can be a very satisfying one. So make sure you take the time to enjoy what is happening too.
I mentioned the Ivan Misner book above. It’s called ‘The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret: Building Your Business with Word-of-Mouth Marketing‘. The different types of networking groups are: Casual Contact Networks, Strong Contact Networks, Community Service Clubs, Professional Associations, Social Groups, Business Groups and Women’s organisations. So groups that are casual networking through to connecting you with your peers (professional associations) and then groups that are specifically designed to promote your business. I encourage you to get the book and read it.
Ivan talks about networking being a contact sport. And he’s right. Networking is about communicating, participating, learning about others, and being involved. It’s not about sitting in the peripheral and just observing and hoping that others will start buying from you. Why should they? They know nothing about you. So you need to get out and about and mixing and mingling with other people. Learn about who they are, what they do, what they need, and then when the time is right, let them know how you can help them.