14064071_mYou have a passion and drive to serve others. You have a plan and have thought through your revenue goals and the technology that you will use to get your business off the ground. Now all you need is that first client.

Don’t let complicated marketing plans stop you from moving forward. Here are three places to find your first client:

Networking

Networking, both in person and online, is a great way to find prospects. It’s important to view networking as an opportunity to build relationships and referral partners. This is not about making a pitch or sale.

Look for networking opportunities in your area that fit with your schedule so that you can attend regularly. Finding the right networking group can take time. Try several different organizations to find the one that you connect with. One of my favorites is PolkaDot Powerhouse! If you have a chapter near you, I suggest you try them out!

Online networking can be just as successful as in-person networking. I found one of my first VA clients on Twitter seven years ago and we are still working together to this day! Becoming an active participant in Facebook groups, sharing your knowledge and helping others will position you as an expert in your field and someone that others will recommend or turn to when they need what you have to offer.

Family and Friends

Be sure to share information about your new business with family and friends and always ask them who they know that may benefit from your services. If they offer a suggestion, you can ask for an introduction. You never know who your family members and close friends will run into or who they know. My very first client, the client that started my VA business, was the relative of a close friend.

RFP’s

RFP’s (Request For Proposals) are my absolute favorite ways to connect with prospective clients. Many professional organizations offer an RFP service as a benefit to members and those needing services. One of my favorite RFP services for Virtual Assistants is through IVAA.org.

The International Virtual Assistants Association offers an RFP system for individuals looking for a virtual assistant. The RFP is made available to the members who then decide if the request fits their skill set and availability. A prompt and thorough reply often results in an interview, which can lead you to that new client!

Regardless of where you find your prospect, the first step in securing any client is to follow up. Follow-up is especially important in service industries such as virtual assistance. The person who is looking to hire you is busy. Chances are they are in the weeds and haven’t had an opportunity to do the research that they intended to do or interview all the responses they may have from an RFP. Following up shows them you are interested, you are efficient, and you are ready to help them out of their overwhelm.

A system to secure that first client:

Finding the prospect and converting them into a client is one thing, but what do you do once they say they are ready to hire you? If you have prepared, this is the exciting part. If you’re not, this may be a moment of panic and overwhelm.

What do you send them?

How do you get paid?

What do you need to get started?

How do you get started? … The list goes on and on.

Often clients want to get started right away. Creating a system for setting up that first client will save you from a lot of stress. If you are not prepared, putting all the pieces in place can delay your start or tempt you to neglect important steps such as the initial payment or agreement, two steps that you may regret later on.

Your Agreement

Knowing how you will execute your agreement and collect payment is an essential part of the onboarding process. You should have an agreement created and reviewed by your attorney long before working with your client.

Once you have your agreement, you can be ready to fill in the specific details and send it to your new client for electronic signature. There are many different services you can use for electronic signature; my favorite is Adobe Sign (formerly EchoSign).

Collecting Payment

If you collect payment ahead of services, you will need to send your initial invoice with your agreement. How you send your Invoice and process payment is not something that you want to figure out at the last minute. One easy solution is Freshbooks.com. Freshbooks is especially helpful if you will be tracking your time spent on a project or working with other subcontractors on the project.

Welcome Documents

Finally, prepare a template of the welcome documents that you wish to send to your new clients. You can customize the documents while you wait for the signed agreement and initial payment. Your welcome packet should include details of what you need to get started as well as any other resources that will be helpful for the client.

With a little planning, you can create a simple system to secure that first client and build your business like a pro!

 

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