Do you sometimes feel like you’re not making enough impact or finding enough new clients online to build your Virtual Assistant business?
I don’t need to waste your time by giving you a bunch of reasons WHY you need to network online – you found this blog so you I know you’re hanging out online already.
But I see so many people who seem to be totally MISSING THE POINT of social media as a marketing and networking strategy, and who are pretty much just wasting their time. I don’t want that to be you because I know how precious your time is!
Remember that your goal is to get the maximum number of people to Know, Like and Trust you so that they’ll feel comfortable enough to take your relationship to the next level or to recommend you to a friend.
So here are my top 5 tips on how to find new clients using online networking:
1) Add value in Facebook or LinkedIn groups
Depending on where your ideal clients hang out, you’ll probably be spending more time on either Facebook or LinkedIn. Both have thousands or probably even millions of special interest groups where members ask each other for advice or share information. You need to give some thought to which groups your Ideal Client is likely to be in, join them, and make some (valuable) noise inside them.
For example, If your ideal clients are DOG GROOMERS (I know, totally random but maybe Dog Grooming VA is a thing? Shout-out to any Dog Grooming VAs out there!).
You should look for groups such as:
Grooming Business Owners (4.1k members)
Animal Businesses in Milton Keynes (321 members)
Positive Dog Business Network (1.1k members)
Dog Business Networking 101 (611 members)
FYI These are GENUINE Facebook groups.
Make sure that as well as containing your ideal clients, the groups discusses subjects that give you the chance to put in your 10 pence worth. There would be no point in joining these groups :
– Dog Grooming Vacancies and Opportunities
– Dog Grooming Supplies and Online Shop
Yes, your ideal client is in there, but they won’t be ASKING THE TYPES OF QUESTION you should be answering. Even if you have the answers to the questions they’re asking in these groups, there is a specific reason for offering free advice to group members – and that is to show that you’re CREDIBLE and you know your stuff about helping dog groomers to run their business.
While it’s kind and helpful to offer advice on where to buy the best dog biscuits, it’s not relevant to the services you’re offering to your ideal client and tells them nothing about why they should let you help them as a Virtual Assistant.
You should also be careful to read group rules about promoting your services and spamming. Most group hosts will have set days when they invite other business owners to share their services with members, but remember that the host has worked hard to build their audience and won’t thank you for hijacking them with uninvited spam about your business.
VALUE, YES. SELF-PROMOTION, NO
2) Post interesting content that invites people to start conversations
This doesn’t just mean finding pretty stock images, photo-shopping them so they’re ‘On Brand’ and adding a generic inspirational quote. If this is something you’re guilty of, please stop! It’s also not OK to post only promotional content on your social feed. The average person is bombarded with up to 10,000 marketing messages. Every. Single. Day.
Most people have learned to tune out and ignore marketing messages so although you ARE posting content to market your business, you need to disguise it as useful titbits of information to keep your audience’s attention. Gary Vaynerchuk boils this down to his Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook technique. (A jab is value that you provide your clients, and the right hook is when you ask for the sale). Notice that there are 3 jabs for every right hook?
If you give your audience CONSISTENT QUICK WINS through your content they’ll be much more likely to follow you, listen to you and engage with you, which is what it’s all about!
3) Build your own community
The Facebook Gods are doing their best to screw this one up with recent changes to the dreaded algorithm but BUILDING A COMMUNITY around your virtual assistant business is a great way to build the Know, Like and Trust factor with new clients.
This tip is not for the faint-hearted as you’ll need to commit to posting daily content (including Lives!)
But hosting a group filled with your ideal clients is a brilliant way to slowly ease away any doubts they have about working with you.
You’ll start to build up meaningful online relationships with members of your group, as well as showing how helpful and knowledgeable you are. If you’re willing to be in it for the LONG HAUL this strategy is a definite winner, which is why you’ll see so many entrepreneurs (myself included) setting up Facebook groups of their own.
4) Spend time liking and commenting on other people's posts
You know the saying ‘WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND’…I know it’s usually used in a negative way to stop you from behaving like an arse but in the world of social networks there’s a positive message in there.
You probably already know that the main social platforms are more likely to show your posts to people if they’re LIKING AND COMMENTING on them. But if you want people to engage with your content, you need to start engaging with theirs. There’s an element of ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ when it comes to liking and commenting so scratch as many backs as you possibly can.
Try to like and comment on at least 10 PEOPLE’S POSTS each day, and you’ll see that decent folk will return the favour – and when I say comment, don’t just leave an emoji in the comment box. Try to say something thoughtful which invites a response, that way you’ll see the same in your own comment threads.
5) Start an online networking pod
If you’re struggling to get any engagement on social media, there are two main causes:
Your content is not that interesting (sorry!)
The Social Gods (AKA the algorithm) is not showing people your posts
Let’s assume that you’re posting interesting content that invites people to start conversations) and that your content is so valuable/hilarious/entertaining that people won’t be able to stop themselves from commenting if they see it.
The problem is that you need to give your content a little KICK UP THE BUM to get the Social Gods to notice it and present it to your followers. Sometimes the only way to do this is to gulp…ask for help.
This is where an online networking pod works really well – You’ll probably have a group of entrepreneur friends who are struggling with the same engagement issues so ask them if they want to agree to like and comment on each other’s posts to help give you all an algorithm boost.
You’ll need to send members of your pod links to your posts (don’t assume they have automatically shown up in their feed) so they can like and comment. And of course you will need to RETURN THE FAVOUR. By getting comments and likes, your posts will be shown to more people and Voila! Your post exposure and engagement will improve.
Don’t forget that you’re putting in all of this effort to network online for several good reasons:
To be seen by more potential clients
To show how helpful and knowledgeable you are to potential clients
To build a network of online friends who will have your back
To be give you the chance to be so ridiculously helpful that people will be begging you to work for them!
Make sure you come back for our next blog where I’ll be looking at what makes a great Virtual Assistant!
If you want to learn more about how to find new clients online here are some of my favourite LEARNING RESOURCES to help you to network like a pro!