I am looking for some general advice you have on networking. Do you belong to associations? Do you network online?
President, Splash Virtual Assistance www.splashva.com
Jeff and I have both been here at SuN for awhile now and we both operate an established business - I always love to read Jeff`s posts. I don`t know where you are in your VA business development so forgive me if some of what I state is old news to you. This question has come up before on the forum but I did a search and could not quickly find the threads.
First off, I recommend to make "networking" a part of your daily routine. I believe a good business person is ALWAYS networking. Here`s a little story. I worked for Delta Air Lines in a previous life. The founder, C.E. Woolman, is said to have always had a flight timetable in his pocket. If anyone he met even mentioned going somwhere, he could tell them when Delta went there. That philosophy carried over to employees for generations (I won`t comment on the company`s present situation - I`ve been gone from there a long time).
Everyone you meet is a potential client or a potential advertiser for you and your company and your services. Never miss an opportunity to promote your company, yourself, and your services. Here`s the good thing ... the more you do it, the better your presentation gets. The more you talk about your business and services, the more ideas on ways to promote it and networking will come into your head, too. It just works.
Develop answers to people`s questions to fit your business and services into any opportunity that presents itself. Become a good storyteller (and I don`t mean lies). I agree with Jeff - your business can be networked online. It can also be networked at the Chamber of Commerce and other local associations and organizations. There isn`t any place you can not network - IMHO.
No matter where you network, have a plan. Have scripts written in your mind or on paper. If somethings works, keep a log or journal of "successes". Speaking of logs/journals, keep an "idea" log. Keep a "humor" journal. Keep a journal of "boo-boos." You`ll be surprised as to what you can learn when you read back over these journals.
In your chosen field of VAs, client contact and"touchpoint" marketing is important. Stay in touch. Send cards, postcards. Remember birthdays, anniversaries, spouse birthdays, kid`s birthdays - whatever. You can set yourself apart by being remembered as one who remembers. 25 years of experience tells me it works. Take it for what it is worth.
Wishing you much success!
PS - an afterthought addition ... I suggest you remove the page on your website about pricing and think about adding some information about value and benefits of a VA. If you sell on price alone, you become a commodity. You are not a commodity item. Think about your potential clients and their "pain" - explain it to them - tell stories on your website - make THEM want YOU. Identify their pain and you`ll set the hook ... then you can "negotiate."
I find networking is easy as you can join many good networking communities and make contacts with the friendly members and share ideas on all business issues.
My favorites groups are Adlandpro and RYZE. I also enjoy writing at Writingup
Cynthia visit my networking page to see some of my networking communities.
There are thousands of members you can contact via group, interest group or location.
What agood Idea! Didn`t think of that. I do MLM and have had signups from postings I`ve made. Another way I promote is through articles online. I`m also starting to use solo ads and post my article to ezines.
Talking about networking with friendly people, I am sure that we all agree that we need to keep in touch with the contacts, We get persons with whom we can start networking even in email signatures, we dont add these leads to our database, reason being we are so occupied with our routine tasks that we cant fill out each field in our database.
There are software tools that can help you if you are in the net working process, contact gets added directly without manual typing, all you need todo is just highlight the contact information and one click transfers the details into the database.
I get some work on line. I used to get much more when my confidence was as low as my prices were. Now I average 1 monthly client a quarter via my newsletter list. And a bunch of ezine subscribers or forum folks do one shots -- purchase an ebook, audio or class or two of mine during the year.
I used to be on many forums, way to many ;) now I limit it to 10 of the most important ones. I`m a co-moderator of a forum and I`ll see how that works out this year. OH. by "important" I mean important for my self development and that of my business. I also go to events specifically to be in the company of potential referral partners.
Each year I reevaluate the groups I`ve been a member of and am doing so now. I joined SUN a while ago, but never posted before. I`ve been sitting back just watching.
Since my ideal clients are (among other virtues) women in established businesses, those are the groups I look to join locally. There are none where I live, so I go into Seattle, where they are two big women`s business groups, a womens club, and some smaller groups. I also contact them to see if they need speakers. I find speaking and the connections that brings, to be the fast track to new clients.
I think one of the most important things to do before networking is to look at your ideal client profile, then find networking groups where a minimum of 75% of those in attendance fits that profile. Why? With all the groups out there, why settle for less ;) Between the connections I gain and then possible referral partners or clients, this is a well worth thing to try.
Locally, the weekly networking groups are great for newer business owners, but few stay once their business is off the ground. I tried to start such a group for established business owners and people just don`t seem to join such groups. However, one of my local clients found a B2B networking group that does fit the bill, and although its not in my own community (an hour drive) I`m sure that I`ll be back again to visit a few times before I make up my mind to possibly join it.
I`ve tried the local Chamber in my area, really nice folks, but don`t find it helpful. So after two years I`m not going to renew. But there is a Chamber in another area who has more of my ideal clients attending and I joined them this year. I`m meeting more of the sort of person I want to work with and have formed a few collaborations. And about 45 minutes from me is another similar (I think) such group that I hope to attend this month or next.
Interestingly: I found that when I visit Chambers, I get speaking gigs. But when I attend the ones around my area, I get none. Anyone else find that?
So as I said, it`s good to reevaluate each group quarterly and make decisions once a year regarding renewing. And since Chambers could be a great source of business and speaking, my assistant is creating an Excel file for me of all the Chambers in the state. We`ll be sending letters out them next regarding my speaking there.
I have a list of online and offline organizations at http://www.TheResourceQueen.com it should give you more than a good start.