So, you have done it!
You’ve researched and read everything that you could get your hands on; you’ve created your logo and brand; you’ve built your website; you’ve created a Facebook business page; you know what you are going to charge and what your package pricing will be; you’ve officially launched your business and you have your business cards in hand and are ready to pass them out…
Now, where do you get your clients???
I belong to several networking and social media pages for the VA (virtual assistant) community and I see numerous, almost daily posts, from other VA’s asking “Where/How do I find clients”? I also see many VA’s posting about wanting to throw in the towel on their business because they can’t seem to get a client base and get their business off of the ground.
In 2015 when I originally started by business as a side gig I went the truly organic route and I posted my services on Craigslist under the small business ad section. I refreshed my ad every 3 days in multiple target markets across the US. Within 3 weeks I landed my first 2 clients. Now – I will say, looking back, this was more luck than it was strategy. I really didn’t have a clue on HOW I was going to get my clients other than Craigslist and realized that I would need to figure this out.
Fast forward to January of this year… I decided to quit my corporate M-F job and to invest 100% into my business and into making Your Essential Assistant a success. But to do this… to really really do this, I needed to have a better handle on how to get clients and build my business. I spoke with other VA’s and small business owners and came up with a strategy that worked for me and my business. Here is what it looked like:
Go public! For me, this meant sharing my career change and re-launching of my side business as a full-time venture on all of my social media platforms. It also meant asking my friends and family to share my post on Facebook, re-tweet it on Twitter and to share it on LinkedIn. Was this scary? Yes! Was there a chance that some people would be naysayers or skeptical? Yes! Did I care? Abso-fricken-lutely NO!! The supporters ultimately outweighed the critics and the endorsement, encouragement, and support that I found was amazing!
Join business groups and pages… and PARTICIPATE! This may seem like a no-brainer but too many people overlook this piece of marketing themselves. Find Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups and Twitter feeds that you can follow and engage with. Don’t join them and then simply blast your services. Join them with the intent of getting involved in discussions & conversations. If you have a good idea make a suggestion to someone who is looking for a solution. Cheer someone on who had success. Re-post something if you think the content may be relevant or helpful to someone in your network. And, don’t just join VA pages. Join your local small business community pages. Look for women networking pages or high tech industry pages or whatever your niche is. But just make sure that you get out there, get involved and get engaged.
Network!! Now, this part seems to terrify a lot of people. And to be honest, it terrified me to start with. But, it was brought to my attention by another small business owner that no one was going to get to know me or my business if I didn’t start ‘selling’ it to other people and actively marketing it. I quickly realized that I had to get over the fear of talking to people and just get my butt out there and do it!! But, the next question was where?
Well, the answer is everywhere! You can literally look up networking events on Google and find something every. single. day. of. the. week! Here are just a few that I am fond of and have found to be a great resource in growing my business:
- BNI (Business Network International)– BNI has chapters all over the world and you can guest visit at any chapter up to 2x a year. They are a 100% referral based organization with a great concept of only one business professional of any industry per chapter. What this means is that there is no competition between businesses. If you are a mortgage broker there would only be one residential broker and one commercial broker. Collaboration over competition will get me in the door every time!
- EventBrite – This website has everything you could ever want or wish for when it comes to networking events and opportunities. Simply put in networking in the events field and your city in the location field and you will generate responses for all over your local area. Some have small fee’s while others are free but the best part is you can choose the ones that best fit your availability and desired client base/market.
- Facebook Events – Again, Facebook makes the ability to find networking events a breeze. When you go to the Facebook events page you just go to the right side of the screen and click on networking and up comes all of the various events that are in relatively close proximity to you. But, here is what is even better…. maybe you are going to be traveling (because we are virtual right?!?!) so you set the location for the destination that you will be going to and viola — you can see the events in that area. Maybe you find an event that you can squeeze into your schedule and attend it. Then maybe while attending you make a connection and that connection becomes a client. Then — that trip just became a business expense!! I’m not saying that this will happen but I am saying that it could happen if you put yourself out there and network!
Lastly, talk to everyone! This one is my last and final tip that I implemented in building my client base. Some of us find it hard to toot our own horn but seriously, no one is going to do it for us. Even if your family and friends are 100% supportive and encouraging of your business they still don’t have the same amount of skin in the game as you do. So, every time an opportunity comes up that you can share your business DO IT! When the doctor or chiropractor or the pharmacist asks what’s new – TELL THEM! When you are making small talk at the airport or on the plane or at the train station with the person next to you – TELL THEM! When you are talking to the gal or guy at you Zumba or CrossFit class – TELL THEM!
There is no magic potion or mathematical equation that will mystically and magically bring clients to your website or knocking on your door! You have to go out and find it. You have to invest the time in it and engage with people and connect with them in order to grow your business. Connections are where it is at!! Relationships are key!!
Because people hire people that they like!