Wondering how your business can survive and thrive during the Coronavirus pandemic? The solution: Take your business Radically Virtual.
In this article, I’ll talk about how, as a self-employed professional, you can stay put in your home office, work with existing clients and attract new ones with easily-actionable virtual strategies and tools.
My Radically Virtual journey
When I moved to Boulder Creek in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 2002 I soon realized that clients weren’t going to make the trek up a 25-mile winding road from Silicon Valley.
I made the choice to go Radically Virtual 17 1/2 years ago and it’s worked amazingly well. I attract all the clients I need using my website and email and work with all my clients (both individually and in groups) via Zoom video.
But I also had time and momentum on my side. I had already been marketing online for five years before I moved here. I had published my InfoGuru Manual and things were going well. I started offering virtual programs via teleconference and they were filling.
But you may not be as lucky as I was. You are faced with the necessity of going Radically Virtual practically overnight. You need to work with your clients at a distance and attract new clients without meeting them in person. And that can be scary.
So, below are my recommendations on how to start your own Radically Virtual Journey.
Ultimately, your business consists of conversations
As a self-employed professional, your business consists of one conversation after another. One-on-one coaching and consulting conversations and one-to-many training conversations.
When the conversations stop, your business stops. But if you keep the conversations going, you may discover that you can be just as effective working virtually as in person.
This is really the big key that so many miss. It’s not about content marketing, posting on social media and putting up YouTube videos. It’s about real, live conversations. Lots and lots of them.
Here are several ways to make that happen:
Transition all your clients to virtual meetings via Zoom Video
If you don’t have a Zoom video account yet, get one. If your meetings are usually short, you can get by with a free Zoom account. Just sign up at http://zoom.us. If you anticipate meetings of 60 minutes or more, sign up for a paid account. It’s only $14.95 per month. A lot less than you’ll pay for gas going to and from client locations!
Whether you’re a business coach, a management consultant or a corporate trainer, you can conduct your business virtually. So you want to inform your existing clients and your prospective clients that you offer this service and position it as an advantage to them.
If you haven’t done this yet, start now. Let them know your situation (they’ll understand because everyone is going through the same thing) and write an email to every client and business contact on your email list. Tell them how you’ll be working virtually for the foreseeable future. Make it as clear and simple as possible.
Don’t just communicate – over-communicate
Be in touch by email with clients individually or by group. I do my best to keep all my group program participants updated with new ideas, resources, and recommendations about twice a week.
And these days, I think this is even more important. Think of yourself as a lifeline, a resource with ideas and inspiration to combat isolation and enhance engagement.
Set up “virtual coffee meetings” with your contacts
In the past month or so I’ve been sharing ideas about this approach. And when you’re not circulating physically, this is even more important.
Connect with past clients, business associates and referrals, not to overtly sell your services but to share ideas, insights, resources, and connections. Try to set up from two to five short meetings every single week. Your email might say something like this:
Just wanted to be in touch. It’s been some time since we talked. And now that everyone is hunkered down in their home offices I’m reaching out to see if there’s any way we can support each other with ideas, insights, resources, and connections in these challenging times. Want to set up a time for a short chat via Zoom video? Let me know!
I’ve been sending out emails like this regularly for the past few months and getting a great response. Every meeting stimulates a new idea or possibility for my business.
Send video messages, not just email or text messages
Short video messages are appreciated because they are more personal. And now you can do simple personalized video messages with a great little Chrome extension called BombBomb.com.
You can do a quick video from your webcam and then immediately post the video link into your email. It only takes a minute or two. It even integrates seamlessly into Gmail. And people love it.
Consider starting an email newsletter
My email newsletter, which at its peak reached 50,000 people, has been my most important marketing tool for 22 years. Yes, we all get too many emails, but I know of no better way to stay in touch with people in your network.
You can sign up for AWeber.com or MailChimp.com at a very reasonable monthly fee. Even if you’re only sending out 50 or 100 emails every couple weeks, that’s better than dropping off the radar of your contacts.
When you send out a newsletter, you automatically become a thought leader, someone who has some value to share. And when someone is looking for your kind of expertise, you are top-of-mind.
Join or form a virtual group
When you’re isolated, it’s easy to become discouraged and lose your motivation. You might find yourself going into your head and disasterizing. The solution is a virtual support, mastermind, or coaching group.
At its simplest, this is getting together with a few business colleagues once or twice a month via Zoom video and discussing your issues and providing each other with resources and support. I’ve taken advantage of many of these types of business groups over the course of my career.
Soon, I’ll be sending information on such a group that I’ll be hosting. Stay tuned!
Focus on only one primary social media channel
For most, this will be LinkedIn or Facebook. LinkedIn is more business-to-business. Facebook is more business to individuals.
Make it a priority to nurture relationships on social media. That means don’t mindlessly post a lot of content, but have conversations and move the text conversations to Zoom chats with people you have something in common with.
Your Radically Virtual action plan
In these crazy times, self-employed professionals are ideally positioned to go Radically Virtual and maintain connections with their clients and prospects.
But you need to have a plan which can start with the ideas in this article. And do online research for more ideas and strategies.
Don’t be left behind, waiting for things to improve. Be proactive, reach out, have more conversations, and do everything in your power to be of service in these challenging times.
P.S. if you have other tips on going Radically Virtual, please post them in the blog comments section below.