Virtual Assistants – The third step in this series of articles providing tips and ways to establish a roster of clients covers getting away from the computer screen – yes, that’s right, get up and walk AWAY from the keyboard!  (To begin at the first step in this series, click here.)

Of note: This particular series of articles is written from a perspective of someone who is currently a virtual assistant or has the specific skills to become one, and would like to add or obtain new or additional clients.  If you are interested in being a virtual assistant but would like training or instruction, we will be adding additional resources and sites where training can be obtained, as well as sites where you can register yourself as a virtual assistant available for hire.

#3 – Offline Networking for your Virtual Assistant Business

Many virtual assistants are introverts. They start their business because they like the idea of being at home and not having to deal with the regular social aspect of going into work everyday.  They also like the freedom that working from their home computer brings.

That’s why it doesn’t always occur to a VA that the BEST place to find great clients to work with is not behind the computer screen.

You see, trusting a virtual assistant to help them with their business is a very big deal to your potential clients. They are literally putting their business and life in your hands sometimes.  For example. What if a business who’s main source of income hires you to do updates and you have all the passwords that could wipe out their web presence… I would say that’s a little scary, wouldn’t you?

Now not every situation is as drastic as that but the point is you have to have trust. In reality, text and phone calls can never, ever build more trust that a good old belly to belly meeting.

That’s where offline networking becomes very important to finding great clients for your virtual assistant business.

First, you’ll need some materials ready:

1. A great business card – I know this is pretty obvious but have you checked your cards lately?  Are they up to date? Do they best reflect your services? Would a total newbie to virtual assistance understand what you do?  And while printing them out yourself may seem cool and simple – they are going to look like you printed them out yourself, and there are plenty of places online and probably in your own community as well, that do a great job on business cards for a fairly small amount of money. (I think I paid about $13 including tax and shipping and that was with my own uploaded image.)

2. An opening dialogue – I personally don’t like the ‘elevator speech’ thing but I do think it’s important to know what you’re going to say when someone asks you what you do for a living.  Preparing ahead of time is great but sometimes you just need to test this out until you hit the right thing. If you say your dialogue and your listener’s eyes glaze over, it’s time to try something else.  Keep track and pick the best.

Next, you need to get yourself out there. There are so many places you can go to build relationships that will lead to business. A good tip is to not go out with the mindset that you’re taking on a new client tonight (or else). You’re better off thinking about the people you meet as potential referrers who can send business your way. That will take the pressure off them (and yourself) while allowing you to share what you do. If they need your services you’ll find out and they may even tell you because you’re not being one of those pushy salespeople!

Where can you go to network yourself as a virtual assistant? Like I said the ideas are plenty, here are some suggestions:

  • Go to Meetup.com and look for relevant business groups or interest groups that are in the market you serve.
  • Find out about industry seminars, conferences and events that you can get out to.
  • Join local business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and Toastmasters.
  • Go into local businesses and see if you can add a business card to their advertisement board.
  • Go into local businesses and leave them a business card with a little info on what you can do for them.
  • Donate a service package to local auctions or other events as it suits.

It’s not always about getting the client in the beginning. You need to get known in your area as the person to go to when the help you offer is needed. That won’t happen from behind the screen.

People want to refer people that they know so you have got to get yourself out there if you want local business. You’ll find even if you are an introvert that getting out on your own terms will still offer you the freedom you wanted when you started your business.

Good luck in building your networking skills and adding to your client list!