So tell me if this sounds like you.
You’re blogging, you’re Facebooking, you’re Twittering.
You’ve finally put up that fancy, dancy photo of your freakishly beautiful mug (seriously girl, I’m jealous) and you’ve updated all of your profiles on EVERY SOCIAL MEDIA SITE IN EXISTENCE to let the world know that you’re open for business.
Your deets are dutifully being fired off by Hootsuite every hour on the hour. You’ve got the deal of the century up on your page.
You've got more expertise in your little toe than the top twenty VAs on Fancy Hands put together. But something strange is happening.
Each day, you’re looking at your numbers, you’re looking at your email… And you might as well have done nothing because you’re not getting any new leads and no one is taking advantage of your deal-of-the-century and it’s SO I-need-a-new-bottle-o’-vino frustrating that you’re starting to wonder why you even started this business in this first place.
You KNOW what your clients want. You know EX-FREAKING-ACTLY how to solve their problems.
But they’re not biting.
It’s not like you’re in the wrong market because some other VAs are just raking it in. And it’s hard not be jealous or resentful or even just plain old bitter when you’re just as good as Suzy down the block.
Maybe even better because SHE wasn’t the one who prepared the business plan of the century from two ketchup-covered napkins, and a five minute conversation with Tom-the-Forgetful-Yet-Somehow-I-Got-A-Law-Degree-Lawyer before lunch about the direction he wanted his company to go.
Okay. So what’s happening? How can you be awesome all over the freakin’ place (because you’re a VA and we both know that VAs RUN. THE. ONLINE. WORLD.) and yet have NO NEW CLIENTS? Here’s something that may surprise you.
You’re not getting any new leads, prospects or clients because YOU’RE NOT HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH ANYONE.
You’re waiting to be discovered, instead of politely pushing your way in and solving your would-be clients problems for them before they even knew there was an issue. You’re not using social media for what it is -- a tool to be SOCIAL. Not a place to shout from the rooftops about what your own offerings are.
So here’s what’s going to happen.
I’m going to give you a list of all the methods you can use to get more clients.
And you’re going to be a good student and use them to go out and TALK to your leads. It’s a lot scarier than just putting your offer out into the ether and hoping that someone bites, but it’s also a hell of a lot more effective.
So here’s the list. (If you’re still struggling, at the very end there are some ideas about how to implement the methods.)
11 Methods To Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I built up my VA business using only a LinkedIn profile for an entire year. In short, it’s all about optimizing your profile for the keywords that your prospects are searching for, and then becoming active in a helpful (i.e. non-salesy) way in relevant groups or communities where your audience is hanging out.
If you haven’t read my post about how to use LinkedIn to find new clients, you should check it out here for more detail.
I love Twitter because it’s like one big cocktail party where you can have a conversation with anyone about anything that floats your boat. Too many people use it as a sounding board for their businesses without actually adding any value to their feed.
As a general guideline, I would spend at least 3x as much time on talking with people you want to connect to and actively helping them with their problems rather than promoting your own stuff.
Some of your most lucrative clients can come from Twitter if you do this. If you’re involved in their lives and space, you’re going to be the first person they think of when they need to get their email campaigns managed or all of their itineraries scheduled.
Start by searching through relevant hashtags to your business, and following people that are doing what you do or who you want to work for. Then help them with their questions, provide useful connections or link, and just generally be completely awesome.
I’ve also written a more detailed guide about using twitter in this post.
Contact past clients for more work or referrals
Have you let the connections to your past clients go cold? At least once a month, you should be checking in so that you stay in the forefront of their mind. You should be doing this when you don’t need work so that you can always call upon your relationship with them down the line without it making you look like a weirdo.
For a quick check-in (i.e. when you’re NOT looking for more work), it might be something as simple as sending them a link to a new article that you think that they would find useful. For more work, take a look at where your past client is at now and what you’ve done for them in the past.
Send them a message saying something like, “Hey Ms. Smith, I was thinking back to when we worked on PROJECT A AND B and how rewarding that was.
I’ve noticed that you’ve been able to get more [SPECIFIC RESULTS] because of that, which is great! Kudos! I’ve analyzed your current campaign and I think the next step might be to do C and D, which would lead to [SPECIFIC RESULT].
I’ve attached an outline here, which I could get started on ASAP. Would you be interested in that?”
The key here is to be proactive in thinking up ways that you could help them instead of just asking if they need anything, which they could easily say no to. Since you’ve worked with them before, you should have a fairly good idea of ways that you might be able to help them move forward.
If you do this, one of two things will happen.
Number one, they’ll be so impressed with you that they’ll hire you back on the spot for the project you suggested. Number two, they might not be ready for a new project just yet, but they’re sure as heck going to appreciate you being so proactive about it.
You’re going to be on their mind for when they DO need your work again, which is why it’s so important not to let these relationships go cold.
Team up with someone
I know, I know, you’re amazing at just about everything these days (quit rubbing it in.) Though if you’ve taken my advice, you’ve niched yourself up by now instead of targeting just about everyone.
The fact remains though that there is probably something that you’re just not good at or that you can do if pressed but that you don’t like to do.
Maybe you’re super social and love chatting to new people but hate categorizing all of that information into easy-to-digest documents. Maybe you love to handle client’s social media but CSS stumps you and you don’t know how to customize their wordpress site.
Take a look at some of your competition and figure out how you could complement what they’re offering. Do they already have a client that they’re working with but they don’t like handling MailChimp whereas that’s right up your alley?
If you find the right person, the two of you may just be able to land a client or two that you wouldn’t have been able (or wouldn’t have wanted) to do on your own. Look for people to partner up with on places like LinkedIn, Twitter or any of the groups that you should already be a part of.
Google “I need help with X” or “How do I do Y?”
Not everyone uses Twitter or LinkedIn to post about their problems. Googling what you offer as if you were searching for help on it will reveal to you the places where your target audience is asking about their problems or getting solutions.
You may just find a new forum or a new client that you otherwise wouldn’t have thought about. This is also really useful in getting you to think about problems that may not have crossed your mind.
Like maybe you think that using X piece of software is a non-issue but it turns out that there are a fair number of people in your chosen niche who just cannot figure it out.
Now you know that and can tailor your offerings/messages/helpful-blog-posts (hint hint) accordingly.
Send some old-fashioned snail mail
Maybe you specialize in creating legal documents. Take a look at all the lawyers in your city, state, province or wherever you live. Send the ones that interest you a fancy letter with an intriguing offer in it.
Really do your homework (like in all these other methods) and come up with an offer that could help them with their business. Be really personal and specific and come up with an individual proposal about how you could help them. Make sure to mention the specific results that your work would get them.
You could do this via email too, but some prospects may respond better to an actual letter. Maybe not the entrepreneurial guy who’s created ten websites in the last year. But that dentist hoping to get online but who just hasn’t had the time? He would probably love a personal letter from you solving all of his burning pains.
Talk to your friends and family
I mean, like, don’t be a you-know-what about it. But tell those that you love and trust that you’re looking for new clients. Tell them in simple language exactly who you’re hoping to help and ask if they know anyone.
A lot of people don’t ask their friends or family for help, especially when most people they know work in completely different fields. But think about how many people YOU know that do radically different things.
Your friends and family probably have all sorts of connections that you can’t even conceive of. And they have the added bonus of actually wanting to see you succeed. Talk to them, get suggestions from them, and utilize their networks. It may just lead to your biggest client of the year.
When people decline your offers, ask why.
Maybe you think that you have the deal of the century, but it just doesn’t seem to be resonating with anyone. If you’re not asking WHY your prospects aren’t buying then you’re missing a key piece of the puzzle that could help you figure out what to do next.
Next time you offer someone something specific that you’ve done your homework on but they’re not interested, ask them why. Be polite and respect their decision, obviously. But just figure out what isn’t working for them.
It may just be a budget or time-sensitive thing, or it may be that you’ve missed the mark entirely. Better to know this now than wasting time sending the same offer to multiple leads and getting shot down without knowing why.
Where do your clients get their news? Who are they all reading? Where do they go to for help or information or even just their entertainment of the day?
If you’re doing your job right, you should be able to list 5 or 6 places right off the bat. If you’re not sure, look at the sites that all of your prospects talk about, tweet about, share, and so on. Look at the experts in your field, the ones that everyone is talking about.
Then make an offer to the relevant site to do a guest post. Do all the work upfront for this person too, just like you would if they were a prospective client.
Really study their site, see what gets the most shares, and then cross-reference that with what you know would be useful to their audience but which they haven’t covered yet.
Send them a message or email telling them what you admire about their site, and offering to do a guest post on A, B, or C. Make sure to tell them how helpful it would be for their audience (and be SPECIFIC).
If they agree, great! Write them an amazing post, and then make sure that it links back to your website, offering, etc. If you want to be super fancy (hint: you do), then you should make the page that it links back to extra special.
For example, “Hey Readers of BLANK! Happy to have you here! If you liked my post on BLANK, then you’re going to love A, B, and C.” Overall, guest posting is a great way to get your name out in front of a whole bunch of new people, get substantial traffic, and add credibility to your brand.
Give something away for free
It’s controversial in the business world whether or not you should ever work for free. That said, the entire online business world is based upon this model. Think about it. How many sites have you signed up to because of some amazing eBook that they’ve offered up front?
Giving something away for free lets your prospects get to know you in a non-risk way for them, and then primes them to make a purchase later on. Make up a free guide helping your prospects with an issue that comes up over and over again.
Offer a few free 30-minute strategy sessions, with the deal being that you get to analyze their problems and post a detailed how-to guide for everyone later on. When people see that you can solve their problems, they’ll be stumbling over one another to pay you.
All of these make sense? I know that I’ve listed quite a few different strategies.
So here’s what I recommend you do to get the most value out of this list:
Pick the 1 - 3 recommendations that resonate with you the most.
Comb those 3 sites/areas to explore for anything and everything that could be a lead, and list them all. So if you picked LinkedIn, you’re going to bookmark all of the networking groups for coaches or entrepreneurs (or whoever you’re targeting), the clients that you would love to have, the top VAs in your field (what are they doing that you could also be doing), and so on.
Brainstorm implementable strategies of ways that you could add INCREDIBLE value to your entire network (so, not specific people) WITHOUT the expectation of a sale.
What does this mean?
For LinkedIn, this might mean that every day you set aside 30 minutes to take a quick look through the various groups that you’re in. Is someone asking a question that you could help with? Is there a question that comes up OVER AND OVER again that is directly related to your field of expertise? Answer that question.
Add INCREDIBLE value to the specific prospects you’ve found via whichever method and want to work with by stalking them like a mofo and figuring out where their biggest pain points are.
Then make them a personalized solution upfront and message/email/snail-mail/skywrite them with that. They’ll LOVE you for it.
As always, I just love to hear from you about how this advice has helped you (it sustains my ego, yo’).
So tell me!
What are you doing to find clients for your virtual assistant business that's not listed here? Let me know in the comments!
Lots of love,