First and foremost, talk about what you are doing with everyone...practice your short introduction. Don’t forget to mention past employers and people you have worked for.
- Internet – visit various VA websites and post your information and join discussion groups. Review the section: Suggestions for Beginning Your Business. Be sure to have your own web site and exchange links with other VAs or sites that accept reciprocal links and that are closing related to either helping entrepreneurs, creating successful businesses, and Virtual Assistant Directories.
- Post your resume on the Internet classifieds and VA organizational sites. Also, occasionally, you can place your information on employment sites
- You or a prospect invites the other to sit down and talk or have a teleconference about VAing. This is a great approach for you to select your ideal client and invite them to partner with you.
- When you know your niche, find someone living in that niche. Find out what their needs are and how they could best benefit from a VA partnership. You may just be what they are looking for or have a referral for you.
- Mutual discovery during a meeting with the members of networking or business group you belong to. Here is the place to practice your message.
- When making orders for anything, be sure to include your title as part of the ship to address. I recently attracted a client when ordering wine!
- Attract attention by adding value to every business and personal relationship you have. Give a little extra.
- Become VERY active on your FaceBook and LinkedIn accounts – tell everyone you know what you are doing and ask for referrals.
Ready, Set, Contact…Starting Today!
Starting now, work down this list and pick three items to start experimenting with immediately. As you experiment, rate the results of each. Try each one at least once. Keep trying new items. With this exercise, you will discover the contact methods you are most comfortable with and the methods most likely to be successful for you. We all have a comfort zone when selling ourselves. See what works for you. Now go back to the items you rated highest and repeat. Be sure to adjust each method as you see fit. Remember, the more comfortable and relaxed you are, the more success you will have attracting the clients you prefer.
- Take on a leadership role in a local organization.
- Write in publications for groups you belong to.
- Speak to the groups you belong to.
- Deliver the same consistent message making only slight variations to make it better.
- Start your contact database. Ask for emails and don’t forget to get permission to send newsletters or updates about your practice. Be sure to add their email addresses.
- Check for service and business groups in your area. These can be found in: The phone book and at the library (a librarian can help)
- Online (check out the search engines at c4.com and www.askjeeves.com)
- The National Trade and Professional Association (annual report) Columbia Books. 1.888.265.0600
- Any handouts you use, include your name and contact information. Introduce yourself to two new people this week.
- Write a paragraph about your practice that might appear in the newspaper.
- Visit a new club or organization you might consider joining.
- Set a coffee meeting with one person to learn about what they do.
- Compose a Warm Letter you would enjoy receiving from someone else.
- Ask three people to email you with what they find unique about you and how their lives would be different were you not in it.
- Join a Toastmaster’s club to improve your communications skills.
- Take a computer software class to update a skill.
- Write an issue of an email newsletter you might send out. (Examples)
- Send a personal note to three people you haven’t talked to in a while.
- Write out what you might say if you were introducing yourself at a party.
- Contact two professional groups and determine when they meet.
- Send a mailing (letter or brochure) to 10 new people every week.
- Write another issue of your email newsletter.
- Join a professional organization or volunteer group.
- Practice your 30-second introduction. Refer to the Describing Your Services section.
- Set two meetings this week with potential referral partners.
- Send email follow-ups to all contacts made in the last month. Don’t forget to include your business signature line.
- Send your database of contacts a sample issue of your free newsletter and invite them to subscribe.
- Locate several service groups and find out if they use outside speakers.
- Introduce yourself in front of a group using your 30-second message.
- Ask an associate or friend for a referral.
- Contact three service organizations about speaking to their group.
- Outline a course or teleclass you could teach.
- Partner with another professional and brainstorm how you could work together.
- Join a Virtual Assistant Team Group
Position Yourself as A VA
You Are the Product: You already have the major attributes: background, education, experience, and knowledge. Concentrate on transforming these assets to satisfy the expectations of your clients.
Appear to be the Part: You must be visually harmonious with the expectations of your market. When you present yourself as if you are at the top of your profession, people will assume you are and it will enhance the rest of what they learn about you.
Develop Rapport: Your ability to identify with your prospects and clients is important to your success. Creating a rapport is creating a relation with a common connection. People like people who like them.
Package Yourself for the Part
Think of packaging as the wrapper of a product. It doesn’t seem that important, we just tear it off and throw it away. However, think about how the packaging influences your decision to purchase a product.
If you consider yourself as the product:
- What does the wrapper tell your prospects?
- What does your brochure, business card and website say about the quality of you (the product)?
- What does your email say about you (the product)?
What message are you broadcasting? The message you send whether written, by sight or sound, or even through nonverbal methods determines the ease in which you attract clients and maintain a complete practice. Important keys to great packaging is consistency and professionalism. Always present yourself in the same way. Your business cards, brochure, Internet presence, even your 30 Second Introductions should all speak the same message and make the same point.
If you hate the idea of selling yourself and want to avoid the expense of advertising, then pull marketing is for you. The concept is to draw people and opportunities to you. Pull marketing is based on three concepts:
- Planting ideas in peoples’ minds about what you do
- Adding value, and
- Telling not selling your services
The first step is to plant ideas in the mind of your prospect; what you do; why you’re considered the best in your field; and why the prospect should consider making their life better by working with you. Just share subtle hints.
Whenever you communicate with someone, whether it be by phone, in person, by mail or email, be sure to include something relative to being a VA. Even when you are making an order for products, include your email address, your web site address and include that you are a VA. People are very curious about it. It creates dialog.
Add value to every key relationship in your life. Do things beyond everyone’s expectations, but do them in ways that are inexpensive to you or in ways that cost you nothing. For instance, when you add value, make your clients feel like there’s no one better to do business with than you. WoW! them. In your personal life, add value to people close to you, or those you would like to have close to you, make them glad they are near you and keep them interested in staying close. It’s a win/win situation all the way around.
The third component of pull marketing is to tell people about you and your business, and do not try to sell yourself or your business. The way to pull customers to you is to educate your potential clients about what you do. Give them the opportunity to want more information and to ask questions.
From Coach Rachelle Disbennett-Lee on networking:
I am listening to a wonderful book on tape by Faith Popcorn entitled “Evolution: The Eight Truths of Marketing to Women.” Fascinating book.
If you want to know how to tap into the female market you will want to read this book. One of the concepts that Popcorn mentions is cross-pollination. This is something that women excel at and it is often misunderstood. To an outsider it may sound like idle chatter or even gossip, but to women it is about connection and sharing ideas.
Women love to share ideas and connect. What is known as networking today is something women have been doing for years. For women connection and relationships are vital.
My husband recently joined my business and after being in the office for a few months he commented on how much I go out to lunch. He is right, I do. And I find this to be one of the most important things I do to keep connected to my network and stay in touch with what is going on out in the world. My recent lunch trips have produced leads for business, an introduction to a great new restaurant, a lead on a store that sells vintage clothing, and a great idea for a program I am developing. Doing lunch (women tend to “do lunch”) is valuable to me because it gives me time to connect, share ideas, and tends to my relationships. It does take time, but I have found it to be most worthwhile.
The good news is that cross-pollination isn’t just for women. Women and men can benefit from sharing ideas. Letting others know what we are doing and finding out what is new with them is a way to expand our own experiences and discover new and interesting ideas and concepts. It helps to keep things fresh and exciting. It makes life easier.
Seek out ways to cross-pollinate with the people in your life. Perhaps it is sharing a lead to a new job, or a great new health food store, or your favorite flavor of ice cream. Other people might enjoy the things you enjoy and you will be supporting them in expanding their world. In return, they will share their ideas and their “finds” with you. You will become known as a resource in your network and people will seek you out for ideas and suggestions, and they will want to share information with you.
In today’s world, it is impossible to have the answers to every question. What becomes valuable is the person who knows how to find the answers. The cross-pollinator will be the person who will have a network that they can use to find answers, seek out new opportunities, and connect with other people.
Ways to cross-pollinate:
– Share articles with people that you think would find the articles helpful.
– Start a book club, a networking group, or a lunch club that meets every so often and shares ideas.
– Attend meetings of groups that are outside your normal circles of friends and associates. Find out what other people are doing.
– Talk to people that you meet in elevators, lines at grocery stores, or on the bus. You never know whom you will meet and what you will discover.
– Create a newsletter for clients, customers, and friends that provides information about you and your services.
A great cross-pollinator was Mary Parker Follett (1868 – 1933). “A basic principle of life and research for her was that every human interaction, from the seemingly most common and insignificant to the most profound, should be cultivated for its potential learning and creativity. Therefore, she talked to people everywhere, bus conductors, maids, factory workers, anyone whose experience could provide insight into the nature of the social process”
(Leadership, Vol. V. No. 2 Winter, 1994-94, http://www.spst.edu/Leadership/winter94.htm).
Daily Success Formula: Sharing + Creativity + Openness to learning = Cross-Pollination
“Respect for people is the cornerstone of communication and networking in the nineties.” Susan RoAne
You can visit Coach Lee’s web site at http://www.coachlee.com This particular quote came from her ezine, “365 Days of Coaching.” This is a great daily ezine with reminders and tips about life and how to live the life you want.