One question that is often asked on VA forums is ‘how do I get my first client?’ and the answers are always forthcoming from those who have already been there. When the new VA gets the answers they nearly always balk at the prospect of having to go out and meet people and network. I believe most of them think that in working at and from home means they will never have to go out into that big wide world again – wrong!
You might be operating as a Virtual Assistant but that doesn’t you mean you can’t or shouldn’t be out and about mixing and mingling with other business owners locally. After all, they are your potential client base. The work can still be done virtually – but meeting people? That doesn’t have to be done all online and often people like to work with those they’ve met and trust.
So many say that they are shy, or they are not social people. But I have to say the reality is, you’re in business. Social or not – you have to get out there and let people know you exist. I know lots of people think that working at home means you don’t have to go out and mix and mingle, but the reality is you do. People won’t know you exist unless you let them know. And on a local level that means going out physically and not just being available online. You’ll find that many local people won’t realise you exist and hadn’t even thought to look for you online.
Networking isn’t really that hard at all but it helps to be prepared. Dress appropriately for business events. Take business cards with you (and NEVER go without them). Ask people what they do and how they got started? People like to talk about themselves and it will take the pressure off you. They will almost always ask ‘and what about you?’ and that is the perfect time for you to share what you do, and even how you can help them, if what they said gives you any clues in that regard. Make sure you don’t suffer from verbal diarrohea – they don’t need your life story, so keep it short and sharp. Swap business cards and make sure you follow up when you’re back home, either by mail, email or phone a couple of days later. The first contact has been made and who knows where it will lead?