Well it’s most definitely a struggle when you first start your business. I’ve been there and I know how to get clients and where to find clients. Plus, I’m an introvert and struggle with meeting new people 🙂
How To Get Clients: Friends and Family
People buy from people they trust. And who do you trust the most? People you already know – your friends and family.
So why not start there? Devise an reach out email to catch up with people you haven’t contacted for a while letting them know about your new venture. Alternatively, grab the Virtual Savvy’s free reach out email under Swag.
Would you believe I have worked with all my siblings at some point?
For my other sister I did some typing up of flip charts that she had used in her training courses. My brother owns a shop and I set up an ecommerce website up for him.
Aside from my family I have also worked for friends. A lady I used to work with her husband needed some CVs formatting when he started his business.
Don’t rule out friends and family but don’t forget to charge them!
Can You Get Clients Through Networking In Person?
Oh I can hear you say but what if I’m not good at meeting new people? Can I still get clients?
Well I can reveal that I’m not great with new people. However, I do become more confident the more I know a person. Consequently by regularly attending networking meetings your confidence will grow.
You see my point right?
It’s about building trust with other business owners.
By talking to other business owners you can find out what their pains are. This will then give you an opportunity to talk about solutions to alleviate their pains, without being pushy, obviously.
While networking events can be fun, they are also hard work, especially if you are not that outgoing.
Are Networking Events Worth It?
You must be wondering whether networking actually results in getting new clients.
Stick with me and I will you know if an introvert was able to get clients.
Through networking events I have met some great contacts including other Virtual Assistants and Freelancers.
Now a lot of people would see other VA’s as competition.
But here’s the interesting part …
I met a freelancer at a networking meeting. We saw each other regularly and built up a good relationship.
Subsequently, when she was given a large Excel spreadsheet project from a client she decided it was too big for her to do on her own. So she got a couple of people (including myself) to assist.
Similarly, when I was busy with my audio transcription she helped me out and she was brilliant. A real gem and a great help.
So rather than competition, you should view them as collaborators. People you can trust to help you out.
How To Get Clients If You Are Shy and Introvert
I think you will agree with me when I say that being shy means networking can be sooo daunting.
Some people (including me!) don’t like to blow their own trumpet. Also, they find it difficult meeting new people.
And I get it …
The simple advice I can give is just be yourself.
You need to accept that in life not everyone gets on. Not everyone is your perfect client.
Another important piece of advice is don’t promise something you can’t deliver.
As mentioned previously it’s all about building up a relationship and trust.
As I am a shy person, I find it difficult to network. Saying that, I am much better the more I know a person. Likewise, I am sure it is the same with other shy people.
Hence attending the events regularly is key.
As I was looking after my daughter during the day, I mostly attended evening networking events. To be honest, it was nice to get out of the house and meet new people.
Attending one off events makes it more difficult to build up that relationship, but sometimes you see the same people at local events.
In conclusion then, every event that I attended regularly I was able to get clients. I’m not a very confident person with new people. I do, however, believe in my skills. If networking in person scares the heck out of you then read on and find out about networking online.
Where to Find Networking Events
You can find networking events online. For this you would just enter the term networking events and add the area where you are located. For example, I searched “networking events Wirral” or “free networking events Wirral”.
Once you start going to networking events people will let you know of other events going on locally.
You should be able to find enough networking events locally to find clients for your business.
Start by attending free events or relatively cheap events to see how you get on.
Free events tend to be a lot more relaxed. Generally, you don’t need to stand up in front of the whole room and make a speech.
I remember a photographer who only attended free events and this worked well for him.
I would see him at most free events I attended and he would attend 4-5 events per week.
Now I’m not saying you should attend that many events unless you really enjoy them.
Should I Pay for Networking?
I regularly attended a BNI meeting for 5 months. These are meetings you need to attend every week.
You also have to stand up each meeting and give a brief talk about your business.
I found it very formal but I did find clients. It definitely paid for itself.
While I was there a lady wanted to join who offered similar services to me. BNI only allow one type of business in a group (or chapter as they call it) e.g. one plumber, one electrician, one Virtual Assistant.
I was advised by other members not to allow her into the group! Would you believe, after leaving the BNI group, I actually worked for this lady’s business as a document formatting technician. It just goes to show you never know when your contacts could lead to work.
With BNI networking the idea is that you try to find referrals for other members. This can be quite difficult.
What Questions Should I Ask When Networking?
Show interest in people’s businesses and pay particular attention to what problems they are having.
Some good questions to ask are:
What are you most excited about at the moment?
Although it is a very general question it will help you to discover what they are interested in.
Another great question is:
What is the greatest challenge for you in your business?
This could lead onto you discussing how you could help them overcome some of their challenges.
How To Find Clients: Networking Tips
First of all you need to attend meetings regularly to build relationships with people.
Don’t get your hopes up when people say they will definitely use your services. There will be a lot of occasions when people say that and you never hear back from them.
Always make contact with people who say they want to use your services to build up a relationship.
In addition, don’t see other Virtual Assistants as competitors but collaborators.
Have a good elevator pitch ready for anyone that asks you what you do. Focus on how you resolve the pains that people are currently having.
When I started out in 2007 people hadn’t heard of Virtual Assistants. I found it difficult to describe what I did when I was new to it. It might be best to focus on your expertise such as a Social Media Manager would say how they’ve helped clients with their online presence.
Networking is not only about getting work but building relationships. Another local meeting I attended resulted in me meeting a great freelancer. I did some work for her when she was busy and she worked for me when I was busy.
Building trust in these relationships will quite often result in them becoming clients to your business.
Online Networking / Marketing
Sign Up To Virtual Assistant Forums / Groups
Now if networking in person scares the life out of you then there’s always online networking – not nearly as frightening!
I have found clients online in a variety of places that I will share below.
I joined a Virtual Assistant Group that had an annual payment.
On this group Virtual Assistants would post jobs. This led to some audio transcription work from this group. This paid for the subscription costs plus more. Unfortunately, I am not going to recommend this group as last time I tried to join they had technical issues.
One forum I would recommend being a part of, if you are a Virtual Assistant, is https://www.vanetworking.com/free-stuff/. I have been a member since I started as a VA – only the free membership though – so I can’t really vouch for the paid membership and whether it’s worth it.
Joining conversations on forums can lead to work if you can be helpful and share your knowledge.
Also Facebook groups can be a great way to find clients – just remember not to push your services as group members find this really annoying. There can be job opportunity published within the group. A great one is run by the ower of the SavvyVault.
How to Get Clients from Online Courses
I actually took an internet marketing course and there was a
forum on there. I actively participated in the forum and was helpful. This
resulted in work. I helped a guy in the US to design his WordPress site and to
integrate an email autoresponder.
Let Clients Find You on Google My Business
When I do a search for “Typing Wirral” the first place my business is listed is on Google Maps or Google My Business. Therefore, it is extremely important that you add your business to it. Check out YouTube for videos on how to add your business. Moreover, it’s extremely quick and easy to do.
Facebook Page – Tell Your Friends What You Are Doing
A Facebook page can be an alternative for a website. It works really well for some businesses such as beauty. It means a business can have an online presence quickly and at no cost.
It’s also a great way of sharing what is going on in your business with friends and family.
Get Clients From Your Website
I believe for a Virtual Assistant it is important to have a website. This article, although it talks about starting a blog, covers setting up a WordPress website which is a really simple process.
The difficult part can be driving traffic to your website.
Check out more ideas on how to market your virtual assistant business.
Farewell Thoughts: How to get clients – tell everyone you meet what you do. Because you never know when you will come across potential clients for your business. It can take a while to get your first client but don’t despair. In conclusion, I have found clients through networking in person, online networking, friends and family, my website and Google My Business, attending courses and surprisingly online courses.