If you’re a new Virtual Assistant or thinking of becoming one, I’m sure you’re worried about how you will get new clients. So to help you get an idea of who could be that elusive and exciting first client, I asked members of my VA Handbookers Facebook group a load of questions about their first one including how they got them and what tasks they needed help with.
Getting work, finding clients and knowing what services people need are some of the main concerns of new or wannabe Virtual Assistants.
So to make it a little easier for you, I asked my Facebook group to help out by telling me how they got started.
These are the questions I asked them:
- Who was your first client?
- How did you get them?
- What did they want you to do?
- Did you like them and the work they gave you?
- Did they end up being a regular or just a one-off?
This is what they said:
“My first client was and still is a small independent recruiting company who are linked to the company I used to work for. I had a great relationship with the Director there and she could see the benefits for me helping them. I post on their job sites, sort the website and manage various social media platforms.
I have regular weekly work from them for a set amount of hours. Since I’ve been on board pushing the social media and improving job postings, they have seen an improvement in candidate applications and traffic.”
“My first client is a Quality Auditor. I met him at the first ever Federation of Small Business meeting that I went to. I actually go into his office and type up his audit reports, minutes, do invoices, etc. I like both him and the work and am still working for him now.”
“My first client was a local Marketer, I stalked her on LinkedIn following the How to Get Clients Guide and connected with her. Within a few days, she had sent me a message and asked for a Skype call. She wanted me to set up a CRM, organise her diary and do her bookkeeping.
She knew she was my first gig and gave me loads of confidence. She’s still a client, but as I picked up more clients I scaled back what I did for her and now she retains five hours per month.”
“I got my very first client before I set up my business. She’s an Accountant and a friend. We were having lunch with friends one day, she knew my vague business idea and she asked me if I’d do some really boring work for her renewing all her client contracts.”
“My first client was an IT Consultant who called me from Poland to say he needed my help inputting his expenses. We had worked together for two years a year before I was made redundant and he’s still a client 13 months on.”
“My first client was an old friend and ex-colleague. She set up her own accountancy business after leaving where we worked together and life just happened and we drifted apart. I launched my Facebook page and shared it on my personal page and she commented saying something like “ooh I’ll be in touch”.
I thought nothing more of it but the next day she sent me a message asking if I could help her with rolling forward a set of accounts that her software was struggling with. So I did that and she then asked what other stuff I could do so I quickly built my website and now she’s my only retained client.
I then set her up with a CRM and invoicing software, sorted out standard templates for letters and put procedures and policies in place for her processes and subcontractors – I’ve also recently started helping her with social media which isn’t something I ever thought I’d be doing.
I LOVE working with her – she now runs every decision and idea past me to see what I think. She definitely sees me as part of her team and the best thing is we’re back in touch and friends again.”
“My first client was actually my Dad! He needed me to input and cross-reference 11,000 (yes 11,000) PDF documents into Excel for a project he was working on in Hong Kong. After that, it grew from networking, a few mailshots and now it is mainly referrals or people I used to work with from various companies. ]
I even had some work from a guy who came to fix my cooker so you never know how and when it can happen.”
“The first client I signed through my own legwork is the co-founder of a company whose products I already use. I couldn’t find any contact details for the CEO/MD so I started stalking them socially and sent a couple of emails to their generic email address and included references to their recent campaigns, crowdfunding etc to make my services relevant to their growth.
I sent a couple of polite nudges over the following weeks but got absolutely nothing back and wrote them off as a prospect. Fast forward just two days later and I receive a website enquiry from the CEO… he’d noticed I’d checked out his profile on LinkedIn and was keen to sign up straight away!
Turned out he’d never received any of my emails and if it wasn’t for the fact I’d had my privacy settings totally open on LinkedIn I highly doubt we’d be working together now. Happy days!”
“I got my first client before I had set up as a VA. She did my mortgage and saw I was CeMAP qualified and asked me to help out a couple of days a week with her paperwork and compliance. Fast forward a year – my daughter started school and I stumbled across Jo’s site, read everything I could, bought the WordPress website course and set up as a VA.
I said to my Adviser that I would love to continue working with her but virtually. I then had a referral from her business manager who had originally trained me on the systems. I signed that referral up on a retainer basis and she sent more referrals my way, I now have four more mortgage advisers (so six total) all on monthly retainers.
I do love what I do but am now planning to diversify a little as with the mortgage/property market you never know what’s going to happen. They are also all busy and quiet at the same times so some projects thrown in the mix will be about right.”
“My first client was a curtain designer and maker way back in 1995. I put free ads in Thompson Directory and two more swiftly followed and stayed with me for many years. They’ve moved on, but so have I with five regular clients all in my local area. All the new clients were obtained from various networking meetings.”
“My first client is still a client of mine six years later. It started out small by posting on their Facebook page, but after about six months I took on a bigger role and continue to do so.
I approached them as I liked what their company was about and told them I wanted to work for them.”
“My first client was a former lecturer of mine. She was one of the first few people I told I was becoming a VA and she was very encouraging. Within a month she had asked me to proofread a book she was writing – I loved this piece of work!
Whilst it was a one-off task, it opened many doors and also reminded her of what I can do. As we speak, I’m writing a blog for her website and she’s invited me to be a guest blogger so her followers can visit my website. She also gave me a great testimonial.”
“My first client was the Executive Director at my previous employer. I told her I was becoming a VA and she wanted me to continue some work I was helping her with before I left. I am helping her with some policies and procedures, logo, page numbers, headers, footers and proofreading. There is a possibility that I will be going into their offices to upload the documents onto their Intranet too.”
“My first client was and is an ex-colleague and MD at an old company. I happened to see her share a post on her Facebook page from the Female Entrepreneur Association so I approached her to ask if she was setting up her own business and told her what I was doing and if she wanted to catch up to see how I could help her.
She replied saying we don’t need to meet, I need you!!!! It’s a lovely relationship and she trusts me and my opinions implicitly.
I can see we’ll be working together for a long long time.”
“My first client was a letting agency who I targeted as part of a direct email campaign. I do property inspections and viewings (obviously not virtually!). It’s going so well they’ve tried to employ me on several occasions but I’ve stuck to my guns. I have however just increased their retainer to two days per week and I fit other clients around them.
It was great today to tell them I’m not available between Christmas and New Year rather than having to submit a holiday request! For me, it’s about the right balance between earning a living and having the lifestyle I’d like now my kids have left home. I’m enjoying the work too which is important. Tomorrow I’m working from home for a builder and Friday I’m chasing payments for a different company.”
It was interesting looking through this list because it confirms the information in my blog post on the 3 best ways to find your first client.
Man, I love being right!
People work with people – and they work with people they know, people they like, and people they trust – so it’s all about building relationships.
Because I wanted to find out if most Virtual Assistants landed their later clients in the same way as they landed their first, I went back to the group and asked them to tell me. So you’ll also find this blog post on how VAs got their last client helpful.
As you can see, it’s a combination of things but mainly it’s friends, ex-colleagues and existing contacts. It’s very important to put yourself out there when you set up so tell everyone you know and don’t be shy about explaining what you can do for people.