I see many (new) VAs asking on different VA forums how they can find clients, or if anyone can give them work. Often, when asking questions about what they’ve done, they’ve got their office set up, created a Facebook page, set up a website or some kind of web presence, created a LinkedIn profile but it’s rare to hear they actually go out networking face-to-face.
How many businesses local to where you live actually know you exist? What makes you think they’ll know you have a website or a Facebook presence or LinkedIn profile? It takes time for all those things to show up in searches online and if you haven’t listed your suburb or region, it’s unlikely locals will realise you’re there.
So, what’s the answer? Spend time networking with other businesses – not VA businesses but rather local businesses in your region. Find out about local business networking groups and go to their meetings. Meet other people in business. It’s amazing how many local businesses don’t know there’s a VA in their vicinity – you need to let them know you exist. After all it’s other people in business that you’re seeking to build your client base so why not mix and mingle with them and let them know who you are?
What should you take with you? Business cards. They have not gone out of fashion and don’t cost a great deal to get made. Don’t keep them in your drawer – carry them with you always and give them out to people. Likewise collect theirs and then follow them up with email a couple of days later. Don’t nag them for work, simply remind them where you met and when, you were pleased to meet them and would they like to meet for a cuppa sometime? Or perhaps just let them know you’ve available should they ever have a need. Never sound desperate. Be prepared to give a short blurb about what you do but remember – the person who asks the questions, controls the conversation. So make the conversation about them as much as you can – rather than just about you.
You might not pick up a client immediately but if you make yourself visible at these meetings on a regular basis it will happen and it’s good for you to get out of your own office and mix and mingle with others. Fresh ideas develop, motivation grows and before you know it, your business is flourishing. Enjoy the process!
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.