7 Tips to Get the Most Out of a Live Virtual Assistant Conference

Attending a Virtual Assistant conference often come with expenses – registration, of course, and sometimes travel costs. So many VAs shy away from going to them when they see them.

I recently attended the IVAA Live Summit in San Antonio, Texas with 40 other VAs. Getting together in person with your fellow VAs is not just fun, but it helps you grow as a business owner.

Attending a Virtual Assistant conference is different than any other business conference you will attend because all of the content and event activities are focused around our industry – VAs. The attendees are all VAs, and the whole theme is how to help you make your VA business better.

Here are 7 tips to help you get the most out of attending a live VA conference:

1. Deepen Relationships

Just like you build more know, like and trust with your potential clients when you meet them at in person events, the same is true for VAs. But at a VA conference, the relationships you are building are with your colleagues. They GET what you do. You can be relaxed and connect with others, ask questions about problems you are dealing with in your business, and just make friends!

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Share

Many conference hosts and speakers will have ice breakers in their talks or events that help you to share some information about your business that you might not have otherwise put up your hand to share. Don’t be afraid to share when asked to. You are always in a safe space at a conference with your colleagues – and you might just get the advice you need from VAs who really understand.

3. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

You know more than you think you do. Many VAs struggle with their own value, or focus on what others are doing instead of what they should be doing. When you gather with a group of VAs – many of us have been in your shoes – trying to find a way to make money and not feeling like what we already know how to do is adequate. Successful VAs will show you that you have special skills right now, and that should be what you focus on right now to get clients.

4. Focus on One Takeway

We have all gotten conference brain-freeze at one time or another. There is so much information that comes at us in a short period of time, it can often be overwhelming. To manage what you are taking in, at the end of each session, focus on just one thing that you can implement in your business moving forward. Virtual Assistants often think we have to do it all to be successful, but it’s better to find one nugget from each speaker that you can use – and then build a plan to implement the other stuff at a later date.

5. Social is Essential

One of the biggest reasons to attend a live VA conference is to socialize with your peers. Usually there are breaks so that you can network – but don’t forget to also change seats after each speaker or break – so that you can connect with new people throughout the event.  If there are meal breaks, get together with others to deepen your relationships with them. And if there are after-hours social events, be sure to take part. Many VAs are introverts but the social aspect is an essential way to help you realize what an amazing camaraderie Virtual Assistants have.

6. Ask Questions

Never be afraid to ask questions when you are at a VA conference.  Sometimes the speakers or the hosts are trying to fit their information into a box of time – and they can leave out details you need to process their advice or information. If something is unclear or you need further explanation, ask. You are probably not the only wondering – and you will get more out of the session when you completely understand what is being taught. And – by standing up to ask a question, you introduce yourself and your business – and the others will remember you when the event ends.

7. Take Pictures

Long after you are back home, you will have memories of your time with your VA colleagues. But pictures are worth a thousand words. Be sure to take some photos of the event. Not only can you savour your memories of time well spent, but you can also use them on social media and in your blog, and help you remain excited about the connections you made and the learning you received.

If you have not yet attended a VA conference, consider doing so.

You will grow relationships with Virtual Assistants that can turned into accountability partners, strategic partners, trusted colleagues, and even some of your best friends.

You will learn how to make your business better – topics vary from event to event, but often cover things like business foundations, mindset, marketing, skills, and so much more… the same things that you learn at other business events, but they are all tailored to Virtual Assistants at our conferences.

The VA Conference Live in Ottawa

I invite you to check out our upcoming live VA conference in Ottawa on June 7-8, 2019. This is our third annual VA conference in Ottawa, and every year we make it better for you! This year we have introduced a theme of Confidence - and will have expert speakers teaching you how to improve your mindset, branding, value, message, content, marketing strategies, and more. For more details and to register, visit:  www.TheVAConference.com

Dealing with Difficult Clients

Do you ever say yes when you really would prefer to say no?

We spend so much time in our Virtual Assistant businesses trying to find clients, we rarely stop to think about what we do if they aren't that great.

You know who I'm talking about ... the clients who make you cringe when you see their name on your phone or in your email.

Our support professional persona almost always contains the 'people-pleaser' gene, and we never really want to say no to people when they ask us to do something for them.

We might put up with behaviour from clients that is not really acceptable - if those clients think of us as their 'help', or their 'staff'. It's not fun.

But who wants to turn away clients and lose the revenue, right?

Dealing with difficult clients is a necessary thing to learn how to do well in your business. It will help you attain longevity and be in business (happily!) for a long time.

You teach people how to treat you.

And it's up to you to teach them to treat you well!

So what is a difficult client? Here are a few behaviours that might be defined as difficult:

Breaks your boundaries.

If you have a preferred method of communication (email) and the client is constantly messaging you or calling you instead, they need to be taught the right way to communicate with you. Don't respond using methods that are not allowed. Tip: If a client texts you, email them back and let them know you got their message but to please use your communication channels so you can keep your paper trail of their work all in one place.

Micromanages your task list.

Your clients are hiring you to help them in their business because of your expertise. You should be the one managing your tasks and your schedule. You get to say what gets done and when - not someone else. You need to work with lead times and deadlines with your clients so that everyone has enough time to fit the work into their own schedule. Tip: Be proactive and communicate well. If a client sends you a task request, acknowledge it and let them know when you will complete it. Part of micromanaging comes from the client not knowing if you got their request, or not knowing when you will do it. So tell them!

Last minute work

We mentioned lead times above but last minute work is really important to address. If your clients are constantly sending you their newsletter the morning it needs to be sent out, you need to stop it. Let them know what lead time you need to get it done properly, and then hold them to it. When you consistently do last minute work, you are developing bad habits that clients will find hard to break. Tip: The easiest way to stop this habit is to simply refuse to do the work. Rush fees rarely speak to clients. But when their work does not get done because they are not organized enough, they will find a way to get organized.

Difficult clients are often just clients that have been allowed to creep boundaries or work scope. Not always, but often.

Don't let anyone treat you the way you don't want to be treated.

Act like a business owner. Treat the clients with respect. Set rules for them and hold both of you to those rules.

Everything will be clearer and your communication and your work together will improve vastly. Promise!

5 Effective Ways Virtual Assistants Can Follow Up To Get More Clients

Follow up that falls flat is wasting your networking time.

As a virtual assistant, you probably know by now that everything in your business can’t be done virtually.

Most things can – but when it comes to meeting new clients, the quickest way is still in person.

When you see people face to face, trust builds more quickly and easily.

Online connections have their place, but face to face networking is really something you should get used to in your business.

And when you do, make sure you have an effective follow up strategy.

Meeting people in person takes more time, so you want to make sure you are making the most of your time by building a solid foundation for those new connections.

Here are 5 effective things you can do to follow up with a new connection:

1. Collect business cards or contact info.

When you go to an event, you often meet more than one person at a time. It will be difficult to remember all of the details about everyone, so be sure to get their contact info so you can reach out to them afterwards.

Even if you think you have only met a few good connections, it saves you time when you get home to connect again.

Bring your own business cards to hand out as well. The other person may not contact you (if they don’t do good follow up!) but it is always professional to be able to hand out your card, and often it becomes a conversation starter.

2. Send them a resource or something of value.

After you have met someone, send them an initial email letting them know that you enjoyed meeting them, what you liked about the event, and something that you think might be of value to them.

Sometimes that is a link to one of your blog posts that was the topic of a conversations. Or maybe you send them the name of a book from an author you spoke about. Or a link to and event you discussed.

Whatever you send them, make sure it’s in line with what you talked about at the event. Relevancy is important – it shows that you were listening.

3. Ask before adding them to your mailing list.

Even though you can technically add someone to your mailing list when they give you their business card, always ask them first. I always prefer to have people reach out directly to me after I give them my card – rather than just starting to send me their newsletter.

Because it often takes up to 10 ‘touches’ for someone to move from being a prospect to a client, you don’t want to lose them right away by dumping them onto your newsletter list. Those touches really should be made personally if you met face to face.

4. Introduce yourself afterwards if you didn't have a conversation.

Some events allow you to put your business card at everyone’s place setting, or they provide you with a swag bag with marketing materials in it.

If this is the case, and you find yourself with a handful of business cards, start at the beginning. Reach out to the person and introduce yourself as you would have in person. If you can get the opportunity to have a quick phone call it’s even better.

Try not to discount anyone from their business card. Reach out to everyone. You never know where your next client will come from.

If someone doesn’t look like they might be your client, they could still have a great network, and be a potential referral source. Take a few minutes to explore their business and you might be surprised.

5. Connect with people on their social networks.

After every event, take some time to connect with everyone you met or came into contact with on social media. That doesn’t mean add them as a friend on Facebook. You can do that, but I prefer add only actual friends to my Facebook. But by all means check out all of their social media pages, and follow or like the ones that are suitable.

While you are there, explore a little bit about what they post and who they are speaking to. Add that information to your follow up notes in case it is relevant to your conversations.

Social media is meant to be social, so don’t just follow them and be done with it. Take the opportunity to reach out and send them a personal message. And like and share their stuff. The best way to get a referral is to give one first. The same goes for social media. Share other people’s stuff and they’ll share yours.

The fortune is in the follow up.

You may have heard that saying and it’s true.

Why spend your time networking if you are not going to work to make those connections stronger?

And when you develop a system that works for you, your follow up can be flawless and regular. And you will get clients sooners.

For more great info about networking for your VA business, check out my free networking videos for Virtual Assistants on my Youtube channel.

Struggling to Find Virtual Assistant Clients? Look at Your Numbers!

This Strategy Will Make Finding VA Clients Easier

Are you still having trouble getting Virtual Assistant clients through networking?

I hear this often from VAs in the online forums. They feel like they are always networking but not getting clients.

It can be very discouraging when you feel like you are doing ‘everything’ to find clients but you are still struggling.

We take it personally and the defeat can actually make many VAs throw in the towel on their business.

Look at your numbers.

How many clients are you actually looking for?

If you were looking for 100 clients, then you would have reason to be discouraged if every time you went to an event you came home with nothing. It would be an uphill battle to try to find 100 people to work with you.

Most VAs are looking for far fewer clients than that. You are probably only looking for one (or one at a time). To fill your practice you may only need 5 good clients. Five!

So specifically how many people you need to connect with to find 5 clients? Do you know that number?

Getting strategic about your numbers makes things easier to measure and to set goals that can help you get the clients.

How many you need to connect with depends a lot on where you are choosing to network.

If you are networking in the right place, you might only need to talk to 5 people. Most of the time it’s more like 15 or 20 good contacts that convert into 5 clients.

The point is, it’s a lot fewer people than you think it is.

If your networking is not working for you, you probably aren’t being strategic enough about it. 

Here are a few tips to help:

1.Go only where you know there are potential clients.

If you go to a lot of events and don’t get clients, identify why that is.

Who are you meeting there? Are the people attending 'your' kind of people?

What are your conversations about? What are you saying to them?

2. Know your services inside and out.

If you know who is attending the event, you can decide what you want to talk about, or present, in terms of your service offerings.

When you are in a networking situation, you need to have the answers to the questions the prospective client asks you. It expedites the process of ‘can you help me?’

3. Talk to people to gauge their interest.

Can you help them? If you think you can, ask them questions about their business and chat about how you can think you can help them.

If there is interest, invite them to a sales conversation after the event to explore the possibility of working together. It really can happen that quickly!

Networking strategically works for you much better than just ‘spending time’ networking.

You must have a good strategy to make it work for you.

Figure out where to find the people that you can help. And make the decision to spend your time there.

Focus your efforts on one good networking place, and make it work for you.

When you realize how easy it is to just work with your numbers, you can get clients much more easily.

Set up your strategy and when you find one client, then you simply rinse and repeat the process that got you that client.

For more great info about networking for your VA business, check out my free networking videos for Virtual Assistants on my Youtube channel.