Time again on VA forums I see the same request. “I’m just starting my business and want to know how to get clients”. They get a number of responses and are often encouraged to read the archives of the forums for further information. I thought sharing via this blog might help those considering a career as a Virtual Assistant.
Apart from the obvious requirements such as computer, internet connection, suitable software, good knowledge in how to use that software and suitable experience in providing the services you want to provide (I recommend at least 5 years, but some might say 2 would suffice), then there are these other things that should be done:
1. Know what services you want to provide from the beginning and don’t make it more than 3 or 4 – it will confuse you on how to market and confuse others as to what you provide. It can be built up over time as you develop your client base.
2. Have professional business cards printed and also develop a signature block – both go hand-in-hand. One for when you meet with people in the flesh, the other for when you connect with people virtually. Give them something that tells about you, what you do and how to contact you.
3. Network, network, and network some more. Join online forums and networks and get to know your peers, but also join forums where you could meet prospective clients – your peers will teach you about your profession but few will provide you with work so joining forums of personal interest for example will put you in front of prospective clients.
4. Join local business networks – where you have to go out and meet people face to face and learn about them and teach them about you. Don’t be afraid to get in the front line, i.e. help with things, perhaps get on a committee, give out papers, nametags, handle the registration for events, collect up papers, help others – if you’re where many people have to pass by you, they’ll get to know your face and want to know more about you.
5. Software launches are a good place to network – especially if you already have good knowledge of that software. Many of those attending the launch want to learn about it and often need someone to help them.
6. Take your business seriously and treat it as a business not a hobby.
7. Get a domain name – don’t use a free email account for your business. It’s ok to use one for personal email but you want people to know about your business and a domain name is a good way to get them to take notice.
8. Have a webpage (even 1 page is fine) using that domain so that when people look up the domain out of curiousity they can at least learn how to contact you (other than email) and perhaps a bit about what you do and/or your skills and abilities.
All of the above will assist you in getting started. The phone won’t start ringing, or the emails start coming, unless people know you exist. If you want to know more I have several books available at my bookstore – why not come over and check them out? KMT
Kathie M. Thomas, AFAIOP, MVA, ASO is the founder of “A Clayton’s Secretary”, a Virtual Assistant Network with members in many countries. Dedicated to teaching others about operating business over the Internet, Kathie is a multiple award winner as both a Secretary and Virtual Business Operator, and has over 30 years’ experience in the secretarial/administrative field. She registered her business in March 1994 and is one of the senior VAs who launched the industry globally. http://www.vadirectory.net.
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