Using the internet to connect with your prospective clients is an excellent way to get to know your clients. However, there is more to it than just being involved with online communities like:
I want to motivate you to get involved with your community on a more personal level. Show up at offline meetings, volunteer locally, and make yourself known to your local community in person. The days of being invisible and anonymous online are over. Getting involved in schools, places of worship, local businesses, community events and more is an essential component in any marketing effort. People trust you more if they meet you in person which makes for an easier sale for you because TRUST = BUY!
It doesn’t matter if you have a service business, a retail business, or a completely online information marketing business. Establishing your expertise with locals should be an essential component of your marketing plan.
Use the online communities as an avenue to collaborate on local face-to-face meetings and events, rather than be “the event” itself.
Here are some ideas to connect with prospective clients locally:
Join your local Chamber of Commerce
Don’t just join; get involved! Go to business after-hours events and other events. People love doing business with others that they have met in person, and if they see you often enough at events they’ll be more likely to not only use your services but also to recommend them to others.
Become a local news resource
Reporters have to work very hard finding sources for stories. Whenever you see a story where you can offer a new angle or more information, contact the reporters involved. Give them your number and email address and offer to be an open source of information to them regarding your expertise (like working from home in New York City) and they will call you often.
You may even get a cover story in your local newspaper about your business, I did by doing this
Create a local shopping incentive program
Connect strategically with other businesses locally whether they sell products or services online and get them to offer a small discount to local buyers. Take this discounted list of local business offers and start handing it out to everyone you know asking people to share it and support your community by buying locally. Creating a local shopping incentive program will endear you to the local people and ultimately help you increase your own local sales.
Become a local speaker
Many groups and cities have speakers bureaus; create a “one sheet” and get on the lists. A one sheet is a document that helps speakers market themselves in a simple format.
Don’t like speaking? Learn how to love it by joining your local Toastmasters organization. Not only did I learn how to easily public speak from this group, I also got the word out about my business. How? I was always presenting my practice speeches to the group on topics related to the VA world which gave me new clients through the members at Toastmasters.
Teach a local class
If you know how to do something that others might want to know how to do (be it blogging or doing basic bookkeeping), you can often to teach a class via your “lifelong learning center”, via another group like a women’s center or business group, or even by renting a place and doing it on your own.
Giving back to your local community by sharing your knowledge will make you memorable and people will start referring to you as the local VA.
Host local events
Whether it’s a charity or a business event, becoming a host for local events is a great way to connect with local business owners and your target audience. Consider your target audience before choosing which types of events to host.
Just like with all your online endeavors, you want to be seen and heard in as many different areas as you can where your target audience is. If your audience is there, you need to be there too. Ensure that your business name, your name, and your service list (or products) are seen and heard everywhere.
By building support and recognition in your community by connecting with people using local marketing methods, you’ll increase your expert status, gain more clients and enjoy your Virtual Assistant business even more.
Feel free to share ways you are connecting locally to increase your business exposure here in our Mastermind Discussion Forum