The above was recently posted by a new member of my VA forum and I decided it would be good to share my answer here as well.
Hi, this is something everyone goes through when starting out and many new VAs do not realise that getting work online is not the only way to get work. We make the mistake of thinking we’re operating ‘virtually’ so the only way to get work is by promoting online – but that is not the case.
Most of my own clients I have met personally, or have been referred to me by people I know personally. Not all, but most. It takes time to develop a web presence and for people to find you so there are things you can do that will help you and here are some of them.
1. Develop a signature block so that everyone you contact via email has some way of contacting you. If your email for example was forwarded to someone else as in this message your email address would not be visible so how would they know to contact you? I haven’t got my email address showing but do have websites listed and my contact details are there. But you could include your email address in the signature block. Your signature block is your business card online.
2. List with VA networks and directories – some have free listings and others have paid listings. That is because some provide additional benefits and others don’t but getting your name out there and online helps. With that develop a list of services you want to provide so when clients do find you online they’ll know that you can help them in the areas of service you provide. Some of these directories will provide a page listing for you so if you don’t yet have a website, don’t despair, you can still get listed.
3. Participate in forums like this one – you will learn from a lot of the more experienced VAs but will be able to assist others as you gain experience and knowledge. VAs often will sub-contract to others when they need help with a project or job, but will only approach VAs they have come to know over time and/or those who present themselves well via email as it demonstrates your typing abilities to start with. (There are around 20 VA networks, many of which do have discussion forums so it’s worth joining at least 3 to get to know others and learn what happens around the world).
4. Find a VA mentor or coach to help you get on track with your business, or a course that will help bring you up to speed.
5. List with business directories online – not to be confused with VA directories. This could mean your local council, chamber of commerce, state listings and so on.
6. Network locally, go and meet business people who live and work near you. You might even have a neighbour who needs your services but they are unaware of what you have to offer. In meeting local business people it will keep you abreast of local laws relating to your business, you’ll meet others in different industries who experience exactly the same challenges, concerns and successes as you will experience. You will get to pass out your business cards (always important to carry them with you at all times) and if you give more than one then people can pass them on to others – which I’ve had happen lots of times.
Not all clients will come to you via an online presence because not everyone yet is web savvy, or do not think of the web first when seeking support. We get lots of Yellow Pages clients here in Australia and I know the same occurs for those in the US – I expect it would be the same in other countries too. While many of these people will have email not all of them think of the internet first when seeking support for their businesses so it’s important to make sure you’re promoting both online and off line.
Hope these ideas assist in getting you established. KMT