This is a comment/question I see regularly via forums, and particularly at LinkedIn. People just starting out in the Virtual Assistant industry but not sure how to source clients and build their client base.
This question can actually apply to anyone in business – not just the Virtual Assistant industry. But since I write for the industry, I’ll focus on VAs for now.
I began my business in March 1994, pre-internet. The way I found clients back then is still very much relevant today. The Internet just adds another dimension and another way of doing that same thing – networking.
Networking, and the resulting word-of-mouth referrals, should never be underestimated. Networking is a way of meeting people both online and offline, word-of-mouth referrals come as a result of people experiencing your service and telling others about it – both go hand-in-hand.
It is important to note that networking should NEVER be done just online. You are missing a good percentage of your audience otherwise. Locally there will be groups of people meeting for all sorts of reasons – business networks being just one of those reasons. And because the number of people is very much smaller than the internet, you have a higher chance of being seen, heard, and noticed.
Some places you could look for networks or groups of people in your area? Local Council, Chamber of Commerce, business network groups such as BNI, Leads Club, or perhaps even Rotary, Lions, and special interest groups.
Online you can use a signature block to help people know about your business, at networking and business events, your business card is an important tool. ALWAYS carry cards with you wherever you go as you never know who you’re going to meet or where. I’ve been known to pass on my card to a cashier when we’ve been engaged in conversation.
So, if you’re looking for clients – go out and mix and mingle with people. Be prepared to tell them about what you do – without telling your life story. Also be prepared to spend time listening – and not do all the talking. People give you respect when they feel that you are listening to them. And listening will alert you to their business needs.