How to Get More Virtual Assistant Clients through Networking

How to Get More Virtual Assistant Clients through Networking

Improve Your In-Person Networking To Make Better Connections

Attending networking events is fun, and can be very rewarding, but are you making the most of your efforts each time you take time to go to one?

Think about your last five networking events. How many clients have you signed up? How many great connections did you make?

Virtual assistants sometimes avoid in person networking because so many of us are introverts. I always recommend learning to do it well, even if you find it uncomfortable.

Networking in person is one of the best ways to quickly build your VA business.

But when you attend a live event, whether it’s a casual meet up or a bigger event, remember that you are doing it for a reason – to get clients.

Now that doesn’t mean that you will go to an event and come home with 10 clients (wouldn’t that be great?). But you need to meet people who can potentially be your VA clients, and have conversations with them so that they know how you can help them with their business.

How do you do that? You need to have a strategy for every event you decide to attend. It might differ slightly from event to event, but you need to understand why you are attending, and know what you need to come away with.

Here are 5 tips to help Virtual Assistants strategically prepare for better results at live networking events:

1- Set a goal

The first thing you need to do is set a goal. That might be talking to a certain number of people, or finding a certain number of existing contacts and deepening your relationship with someone you already know, or collecting a certain number of business cards for follow up, or reaching out to someone for a partnership or referral. Your goal is personal and it’s up to you. But make sure that it’s very specific. By knowing exactly what you intend to get out of the event, you can better manage your time and activity while you are there.

2- Identify who is attending

You need to be aware of who else is going to the event. If there are no potential VA clients there for you, think twice about even going. Not all local events are good for you. Sometimes you can find out specifically who is attending if there is a Facebook event for it. Have a look at some of the people who are attending. You might even identify a few that you want to make a point of connecting with. Or reach out to them ahead of time and let them know you are looking forward to seeing them at the event.

3- Prepare conversation starters

The talking part is usually the most daunting part for VAs when networking. But it really doesn’t need to be. If this part stresses you out, consider preparing a few questions to ask people – ice breakers or conversation starters. Another idea might be to scan a few industry related blogs before you attend, so you can talk about those. There are so many great ways to begin or continue conversations, but sometimes it take preparing ahead a little bit, and it can be very effective to do so.

4- Know the answers

While you are having a conversation with someone, you will want to seed your expertise. We call it seeding because it is easy to do and is less ‘salesy’ than most VAs like to be. So when someone asks you how working with a VA works (for example) maybe you then ask them to give you an example of something they would outsource, and you can take them through how that might work. It’s relevant to their business and showcases your expertise at the same time.

5- Analyze each event

After the event is over, take a bit of time to analyze every conversation you had. What did you say that worked? What did you say that did not work? Did you get roped into a conversation you could not get out of? What could you do differently next time? Analyzing what happened and what you can change for next time is an important part of mastering your networking.

Networking is a necessary part of building your business. And with a bit of strategy and some preparation, you can make it work better for you, every time.

Take a moment now to look at your calendar. When is your next networking event?

Use the steps above to build a strategy for it. Figure out who is going, what you want to accomplish, and do your pre-work so you are prepared to have memorable conversations with the other attendees.

You’ll be more confident, you’ll make a better impression, and you might even find your next client!

For more great info about networking for your VA business, check out my free networking videos for Virtual Assistants on my Youtube channel.

How To Build A Virtual Assistant Business

by Janice Byer and Elayne Whitfield-Parr, Founders, CVAC

elayne-bookAlthough the term “Virtual Assistant” is still very new to the business community, there are thousands of home-based administrative workers around the world who now refer to themselves as VAs.  The opportunities for the professional services offered by these VAs are endless.

So, how exactly do you start and build a Virtual Assistant practice, let alone expand it to a level where other VAs are working with you? The first thing you need to do is determine if you have those necessary skills. Having a computer does not make you a VA. You really need to have some real-life experience doing the tasks that are generally expected of VAs. If you have a background in the administrative field or a history of providing other VA-related services, you are well on your way to having what it takes to build a successful Virtual Assistant practice.

You also need to ensure that you have the passion and commitment to make your business successful. “If you build it, they will come,” does not work in the real world of building a small business. You also need to learn how to actually run a small business so the following are just some ideas for starting your Virtual Assistant business.

One of the first steps you will take will be deciding on a name for your business. Many VAs have ‘Virtual Assistant or Assistance’ in their business names. This definitely helps others to determine what you do (well… if they know what a VA is and does) much more than if you pull some name out of a hat and use it just because you like it. Make your business name meaningful, easy to pronounce and understand, and easily adaptable should you decide to change the focus of your business.

Once you have decided on your business name, it is time to register it. Every province and state in every country has different procedures that they require you to follow so your best bet is to contact your local small business enterprise centre or local government office and they will help you with everything that needs to be done.

Next step… your business plan. You don’t necessarily need to write out a formal business plan, although you do need to plan your business.  Planning your business is 100% thinking, analyzing, investigating, choosing and decision-making.

Some benefits of producing a business plan include:

  • the process of preparing a business plan will force you to think about your business, research some options, recognize opportunities and risks, and test some of your assumptions;
  • a business plan will help you identify the cash needs of your business;
  • a business plan can be used to raise funds from banks and investors;
  • a business plan provides a benchmark against which to compare the progress and performance of your business.

It is a good idea for all businesses to prepare and regularly update their business plans.   Once you have made the decision to start your Virtual Assistant business and have made a plan of action, it is time to set up your office. Your office equipment is extremely important to the success of your business. You need to have the most current software to provide the best services as well as an up-to-date and reliable computer system. Other peripherals that you will need could include a multi-line phone system with an answering machine and a printer that allows you to scan and perhaps even fax. You may also need to get other dedicated equipment depending on the services that you will offer.

Once your office is set up and you have determined what services you will be offering, it is time to think about how you will market your business and who you will target your marketing to. Your first step will be to develop your business cards and other marketing pieces. You may want to have a brochure ready to hand out at networking events and possibly provide in a direct email campaign. Other means of getting the word out about your business should include a website and you can also write articles for distribution both online and in print publications as well as offer an online newsletter which can help you have a form of keeping in touch with your clients and contacts.

Owning and operating your own Virtual Assistant business can be very rewarding but does require a lot of work. However, if you are passionate about making your business a success, the entire journey will be a labour of love.

This article is just a taste of How to Build a Successful Virtual Assistant Business. You may also need help with determining your rates; getting clients; training and certifications; moving your business; and even expanding your business. The new book of the same name as this article, written by Janice Byer & Elayne Whitfield-Parr, has over 200 pages of information to help you with these and other challenges that you may face during all aspects of running your business. Visit http://www.howtobuildavirtualassistantbusiness.com for more information and to order your copy.