Looking For New Connections? Take A Stroll Down Memory Lane.

Constructing the right strategy can help build relationships that may not only lead to a new client, but help someone who is in need of your services. One project I was currently working on was drafting letters for an attorney who was hoping to catch up with some contacts from their past. The timing of one of the letters we drafted couldn’t have been better, and a meeting was made the day the letter was received. It’s not always going to work that smoothly, but with a little planning and follow up, you may have your next meeting before you know it.

Whether you decide to pick up the phone or send a letter or email, it’s a good idea to be up-to-date on their situation and their business. Do some research…are they on LinkedIn? Have they published anything lately? Look up the company and start gathering information. Company events, new announcements; anything you find interesting that you can reference in your correspondence.

When you have some background information, it’s time to construct a letter. Although I’m a big proponent of email, I find a nicely written letter sometimes sets you apart from the mass amounts of email that so many of us are inundated with daily (and I like to save the email as a good tool to use as a follow up to the letter and phone call). Even though there’s a lot of junk mail delivered every day, make your mail stand out and consider having it hand delivered if the company is local, or have it sent via UPS or FedEx. It’s going to cost more than a stamp, but it’s also more likely to be looked at and read.

There are 3 main areas to cover when drafting your letter:

  1. Reintroduce yourself briefly…offer a reminder as to your last meeting, who introduced you and what you’re doing now.

  2. Give a short description of why you’re looking to reconnect. Have you followed their company? Is there any news or events that have happened to them personally or professionally?

  3. Present an offer to reconnect. Do you both like to golf? Are they active in a charity or organization that you’re familiar with or belong to? If not, you can always offer coffee, lunch or dinner.

Make the letter personal, but brief and to the point. Just like an email or a long winded phone call, if the letter is too long people will lose interest quickly. Show that you’re genuinely interested in getting back together with them and how you might be able to help them.

If they don’t respond right away, don’t let it go. You can stay top of mind without being a nuisance. See if they are on LinkedIn and if so, ask them to connect. Let them know you post content regularly that they might find interesting. Give them a follow up call to make sure they received the letter. Sometimes mail gets lost or misplaced….it’s always worth a quick call or follow up email to be sure the letter was read, and to see if you can gauge interest from their response.

So, make your list – do your homework – and start re-connecting! If you’re looking for project assistance in getting this task done, visit Elite Virtual Assistants!

I’ll Take Your “Smile & A Handshake” And Raise You A “Share & A Retweet”

Some people think the art of doing business with a smile and a handshake are gone…but is it really? Maybe what’s happened with Social Media Marketing is a compliment to that.

With so much competition in every market, times have definitely changed. But it’s your ability to change with it that will determine if you get lost in the shuffle of today’s digital age or if you welcome this marketing movement. Social Media Marketing should enhance your marketing efforts; not replace them.

Years ago, a smile and handshake was the way a deal was closed….a sale was made final. Now what if you could take that moment and share it with a hundred, maybe even a thousand people….INSTANTLY! That’s what happens when you enable social sharing …it shares everything you have to offer. Your smile and your handshake…can be seen and felt in areas all over the world. Take a look at the numbers:

LINKEDIN: 300 million registered users

TWITTER: 284 million active monthly users

FACEBOOK: 1.4 billion active monthly users

PINTEREST: 70 million active monthly users

INSTAGRAM: 300 million active monthly users

GOOGLE+: 2.2 billion online profiles

Add your social sharing buttons to everything you have, whether it’s an email, newsletter, blog, website or printed material. You want to make it easy for people to connect with you.

But before you get too excited…be aware! If you’re looking for everything to be shared…it will be; the good, the bad and the ugly. Make sure you are prepared for not only your happy customers, but the not-so-happy ones too.

Social Media Marketing is a building process, not a miracle marketing tool. Having 10,000+ followers, friends or connections doesn’t mean anything if you’re trying to sell winter boots to people who live in the desert. It will take time to build the right following, but once you have it, the possibilities are endless!

Figure out the message you want to get across and get it out there! If you’re looking for extra help with your social media marketing, visit Elite Virtual Assistants!

Step Up Your Marketing Efforts with Email Marketing & Social Media [infographic]

Being a business owner myself, we all know what direction marketing has turned to…the INTERNET, and more precisely, INBOUND MARKETING. What is Inbound Marketing? It’s about attracting customers, not distracting them. It’s about giving them some relevant content they can actually use, and hopefully in turn they will come back to you for your goods or services. It’s about interacting with your customers, prospects…anyone you want to keep in front of. The problem is finding the time and/or money in your budget to step up your marketing campaign and tailor it to today’s market.

The beauty of Inbound Marketing is that it’s pretty inexpensive. There are many avenues you can take with Email & Social Media Marketing that are very cost effective. If you’re just starting out and looking to do-it-yourself, MailChimp offers a great free email service, and HootSuite offers a free social media campaign platform.

So why isn’t everyone doing it? Well, there’s the time factor. Coming up with great content to use for your email marketing and social media campaigns, blogging…you name it; doesn’t come without taking time to prepare it. Many wonder if it’s really worth all the hype. Check out my infograph I put together below…the numbers don’t lie!

Whether you decide to take it on yourself, or find someone to help you get started, adding an Inbound Marketing strategy to your current marketing efforts will be worth your while.

Don’t expect results overnight…remember the saying, “slow and steady wins the race”? Well, with Inbound Marketing that’s the key…keep up your campaign, dripping on your customers and prospects with some great content, and you’ll see the results!

Visit www.elitevirtualassist.com to find a virtual assistant that specializes in Inbound Marketing.

Tips On Finding A Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistant….is a very loose term. VA’s are Administrative Assistants, Marketing Coordinators, Event Planners, Email Campaign Creators, Social Media Strategists, Client Relations Specialists…the list goes on. Almost everything can be done virtually.

I started working for a wholesaler virtually about 18 years ago, before we had the online tools that are available now. I answered an ad in the paper…remember when we used to do that…find jobs through the newspaper? It seems almost unheard of now…and why is that? EVERYTHING is online…even your support staff! No matter what industry you’re in, whether you’re a small business or a sole proprietor, a Virtual Assistant can work for you.

The key is finding a good fit for you and your company…are you looking for someone long term, to help with a project, or maybe fill in during that busy time of year?

Many small business owners and entrepreneurs are used to doing everything themselves, which sometimes makes it difficult to see where you need help. Just because you CAN do everything, doesn’t mean you HAVE to do everything. Sometimes you know you need help, you’re just not sure where to start.

Here’s a couple tips:

1. START A DAILY JOURNAL. Some people keep food journals to track how much they eat; why not keep a “task journal”….it’s the only way you’re going to be able to see exactly what you do each day. You’re going to find a lot of repetitive tasks that can be handed off for someone else to handle. Try this for a week, and at the end, you’ll have a great starting point to figure out where you need help.

2. START SEARCHING. This is the hard part…where do I go and who do I use? If you choose to search yourself, LinkedIn is a good starting point, but be prepared to sift through pages of VA’s. Be sure to check for experience; starting to work with a VA can have a learning curve and it helps if they have some experience for a smooth start. You can also use a professional virtual staffing firm that will match you with a virtual assistant based on your needs.

Once you have narrowed down a few prospects…make contact! Schedule a time to do a conference call or Skype.

3. ASK QUESTIONS….and make sure they are being answered. A good VA or VA staffing firm will have questions for you too. “You never have a second chance to make a good first impression” … this saying goes for both parties. Although the VA is the one looking for clients, you are also looking for someone that will want to work for you.

4. FIND YOUR FIT. How you interact with someone initially speaks volumes. I know from my own experience that first contact you have can make or break the relationship. You want to find a VA who has the skill set your looking for, with the experience and knowledge behind them; or at least the knowledge, drive and energy to learn it quickly! Don’t be too concerned right away with what they charge. You will have a budget to work with…so work with it! Independent VA’s who want to work with you, will find a way to work within your budget. When it comes to VA work, my experience is “you get what you pay for”. It’s like any other profession…there are no goods to be sold, just the knowledge and expertise that comes with experience. If you’re looking for a good lawyer, you’re not going to take the cheapest one, are you?

Make sure when you find your perfect VA, you have a working contract in place. This will not only protect them, but you too. This can be as precise or general as you both agree upon, but don’t get yourself locked into anything long term…month to month is usually a safe bet for both parties. Again, a staffing firm will most likely already have a standard contract they use.

More and more small businesses, entrepreneurs, wholesalers and independent agents are looking to hire virtual help. Don’t get overwhelmed by the idea; set your guidelines and your budget, and find the fit that works for you!