One of the first questions you may be wondering as an aspiring virtual assistant is “How do I find clients?” And actually, it should be the question to ask yourself before starting your business, because let’s face it: no clients, no business!
Of course one of the first things you might do to find clients is to apply for jobs in one of the many platforms for freelancers seeking work. But what if you don’t want to compete in a marketplace where other virtual assistants compete? What if you want to know how to find clients and how to get found?
This is what I want to share with you, it’s what has worked for me.
1. Find your niche. First you have to know whom you are targeting, in order to know where and how to approach them. You can easily find a niche when you ask yourself some of these questions: What do I want to do and what am I really good in doing? Who might need these things that I am really good at?
2. Create an avatar of your ideal client. This is a way to go even deeper in your chosen niche. Let’s say you want to work with coaches. What kind of coach do you want to work with, exactly? A Business Coach, a Life Coach, a Motivational Coach who is also a speaker? They all could have different needs and require different services. Do you prefer to work with women or men? Are you looking for someone who is just starting that you might be able to assist to create a successful business, or are you looking for someone who has already been around for a while and knows what he/she wants? When you create an avatar, you will be able to easily identify where to find your ideal client.
3. Look for your clients on the Social Networks. First of all, consider where your clients might be, which social network they might use the most to communicate and interact with their audience. If you target B2C clients, you might find them on Facebook, if you target B2B clients, then LinkedIn might be the right social network. In any case, LinkedIn is a social network that you must consider to promote your services. I suggest you create a thorough and very professional profile, showing all of your skills and expertise. Consider asking for recommendations to showcase on your profile. Also, consider writing posts on LinkedIn Pulse: they are well indexed by Google, plus they show on your profile and are a great way to show your expertise. Remember, whenever you are publishing and interacting on any Social Network, that you are not there to sell, you are there to interact, to be helpful and to create community. So try to participate in groups discussions providing answers and solutions, not only promoting your services.
4. Local Networking & Professional Associations. Look for any event in your area where you might meet your ideal client. You might try with Meetup for instance, or even check Facebook events and any event in your network as well as those published in the local newspapers. Remember to always be prepared with an efficient elevator's pitch so that when you approach someone who asks you: “What do you do?” you will be ready to answer with a short sentence that provides a solution to a problem. You might consider contacting the local professional associations and offer their members a discount on your services.
5. Word of mouth. Don’t underestimate the importance of a satisfied client: he/she might bring you other clients. It happened to me with a client I am still working with, after 5 years. She introduced me to a friend and colleague of hers, and we started working together. The new client introduced me to another one who then introduced me to another one and so on: I ended up working with 6 female coaches, all of them having been recommended from another. Always ask your clients for a testimonial after a reasonable time: don’t ask them after a week, but don’t wait too long.
6. Paid advertising. Consider investing on pay-per-click advertising such as Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. If you are not an expert, you might hire someone who is, but don’t improvise, because a well-done campaign can bring you leads and clients, whereas a badly designed campaign might be a waste of money.
7. Direct contact. If you are able to position yourself through your site, your blogs, writing guest posts, through social networking, etc., it is likely that your clients will find you and reach out to you. But you cannot just sit there and wait, so once you have found your ideal client, take action! You can contact them directly and very politely ask them if they might be interested in knowing how you can help them. You don’t have anything to lose: they might tell you no, but they might tell you they are interested and you would have a chance to start a mutually profitable collaboration.
Finding new clients is not difficult, it just requires dedication and commitment. There is always a perfect client for every professional and by taking action you will facilitate the encounter and make things happen!
She is the author of the first online course for Virtual Assistants in Italian and one of the pioneer Virtual Assistants in Italy. She is the author of the book in Italian “Cambia Lavoro, Cambia Vita” (Change your job, change your life) soon to be translated in English.
Mary also mentors aspiring Virtual Assistants to create their own successful business.
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