Read this excerpt from Noted! Business Lessons Learned from Twenty-Two Years of Virtual Assistance
I hate Requests for Proposals (RFPs). Always have. In fact, over the course of my career as a Virtual Assistant, I have only ever replied to three or four of them. And if my memory serves me correctly, not a single one resulted in a request for additional information, let alone a discovery call. Perhaps my pricing was off, or my language not descriptive enough. Or maybe there were dozens and dozens of other applicants, and my proposal was never even seen! Whatever the reason, answering RFPs and bidding for gigs didn’t work for me, which was why I eventually decided to seek out and/or create my own opportunities.
Some of the most successful people in the world will tell you that there came a time in their lives–whether earlier or later in their careers–when they realized that waiting around for opportunities to come to them just wasn’t going to get them anywhere in the journey they’d chosen for themselves. For reasons known and/or unknown, their talent continued to go unnoticed, even as others around them, some with comparable abilities (some even with less), experienced levels of success they could only dream of. Like talented actors who are considered “not the Hollywood type” and decide to write, fund, produce and star in their own projects. Or amazingly talented musicians who release albums independently because record labels aren’t willing to take a chance on them. And writers who don’t get the attention they want from traditional publishing houses, so they create their own imprint and self-publish their work.
Deciding to make their own way in their respective field was the best decision they could ever have made, these people will often tell their fans. Creating their own opportunities made the difference and jumpstarted their careers, setting them down a path of success that also positioned them to take and keep more control of their careers and income.
So now I teach my mentees and workshop attendees to make creating their own opportunities a big part of their business development plan. Not that I discourage maintaining an active profile on freelancer sites like Upwork, Fiverr, or other such online spaces. Why not utilize these platforms? But my recommendation is to not just rely on those outlets. Find your own as well. Considering the number of small businesses around the world (with more and more popping up every year even in the worst of econommies), your client pool is vast, even after you narrow it down to who you’ve determined is your ideal client.
Which is why consistent networking with other business owners, within our industry as well as outside of it, is key to landing clients for your VA practice. And it’s not as difficult to do as you might think. Beyond your online searches, reading the business section of your local newspaper, for example, gives you a sense of what's going on in companies nearby, which could lead to your being able to pitch your services. Checking out the directory of your local Chamber of Commerce tells you who the movers and shakers are just around the corner from you.
It definitely involves a bit of strategy, but prospecting for new clients can be done if you put on your thinking cap and find creative ways to get their attention. You can do this!
Let me know your thoughts. :-)
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