Becoming a Virtual Assistant is a great career choice for those looking for flexibility and freedom BUT 45% of freelancers admit that finding clients is one of their BIGGEST CHALLENGES.
If you’re just starting out as a virtual assistant, finding your first clients might feel like a daunting task.
Setting up a side hustle can help to take some of the pressure off while you start to build new relationships. And persistence is key in those early days.
But what are the best ways for virtual assistants to find their first clients? Here are my Top 5 ways:
1) Encourage your friends, family and former colleagues to keep their ear to the ground (and recommend you when they meet a potential client)
The NUMBER ONE RESERVATION I hear about hiring a Virtual Assistant is entrepreneurs’ fear and lack of trust. This can be a really hard hurdle for new virtual assistants to cross when trying to find their first clients. With no previous experience and no testimonials there’s not a lot for business owners to go on, other than your own word. You could be Mother Teresa and they might still look at you like you’re a used car salesman.
But people (business owners included) LOVE to seek out recommendations. In fact 86% of people ask for recommendations from friends and family before spending any money on a product or service.
So put your friends, family and former colleagues to good use and ask them to LISTEN OUT for any opportunities on the grapevine. And if anything comes up to make sure that they throw your name into the hat as a reliable and trustworthy candidate.
2) Attend face to face networking events and build a group of business buddies
A lot of people find networking events pretty awkward and a bit dull, but I secretly really enjoy them. Not only are they a chance to meet potential clients directly, they’re also fantastic for making LIKE-MINDED FRIENDS who will be happy to help you out in any way they can.
Don't expect to be hired on the spot by people you meet at networking events.
If you’re a virtual assistant trying to find your first clients, don’t expect to be hired on the spot by people you meet at networking events. That might be a DIFFICULT SELL when you’re just starting out. But if you’re friendly and ask interesting questions, people will be eager to give you valuable advice and listen out for opportunities on your behalf.
3) Work as an Associate VA to get contacts and experience
Some established Virtual Assistants are more than happy to take on newbies on an ASSOCIATE BASIS because it gives them the chance to expand their own business.
Here’s how it works: they delegate parts of their own workload to other virtual assistants (normally those trying to find their first clients).
The benefit is that you have IMMEDIATE ACCESS to a list of clients and the chance to get some valuable VA experience. The downside is that Associate Virtual Assistants accept a lower rate of pay, with the delegate VA taking a cut.
4) Join a Virtual Assistant agency and let them place you with your first clients
There are a growing number of virtual assistant agencies throughout the UK who can help to place you with your first clients. As with delegate virtual assistants, they have an existing book of clients who are looking for help in their business and can make an introduction for you.
Some of the better known Virtual Assistant agencies are:
This is another great way to get your foot in the door when you don't have your own network yet.
This is another great way to get your FOOT IN THE DOOR when you don’t have your own network yet. The only consideration to be aware of is that because agencies charge business owners a placement fee, jobs are likely to be longer term.
For most virtual assistants this will be ideal, but if you’re looking for project work you might have less success with an agency.
5) Make the most of your social media addiction and use it to find your first clients
Let’s be honest – who doesn’t waste chunks of their day mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram? Over 1 BILLION people are on Facebook, with the average user spending at least 35 minutes there every day. So it’s worth making noise where your audience is hanging out.
Given how much time we all waste (I mean spend) on social media, it makes sense to use social media platforms to build your own little slice of the internet.
There are lots of Virtual Assistant groups (including our Facebook Group – The Vital VA Club) where you’ll find people more than happy to guide you.
You can also join entrepreneurs’ groups where your potential first client hangs out. If you show up regularly on social media, providing valuable information and building a reputation for yourself, you’ll soon start to generate a following and LOTS OF interest in your services.
If you’re just starting out as a Virtual Assistant, it can feel scary not knowing where to find your first clients. Make the most of your existing networks and start building new ones that can help you by referring and recommending you to potential clients.
And don’t be afraid to ask established virtual assistants to take you UNDER THEIR WING. You might need to accept a lower rate of pay to start with but it’s a brilliant way to get some experience and make new contacts before going it completely alone.
The most important thing is NOT to feel discouraged too soon – you’re building a business for the long term so persistence is key. If you keep plugging away you’ll soon have a diary that’s fully booked and bursting at the seams!
Make sure you come back for our next blog where I’ll be talking about what skills you need to become a successful Virtual Assistant.
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If you want to learn more about how to build an audience for your new Virtual Assistant business here are some of my favourite LEARNING RESOURCES to help you: