The other day I was surfing the ‘net. Cruising through my social media networks.

No, I wasn’t looking at the latest funny baby videos (though I came across a few good ones!), I was doing research for my clients – not in a billable, time-tracking way – but I was noticing things in my Internet travels that might be interesting to them. And I was taking note of those things.

If you want to increase your value to your clients, master your craft. Just like your clients, it’s essential that you know your business inside and out. Part of that mastery is learning about your clients and their businesses too. It’s one of the smartest business strategies you can implement.

It’s not particularly necessary to work with a target industry or niche (although that helps!), but success is something that will come to you when your name comes to mind in conversations that you aren’t even a part of.

Your clients will give you referrals when they are in conversation with their colleagues if you make sure that your name comes to their mind often, and in the right context.

So here are 3 ways you can become the go-to expert for your clients:

Learn about their industry. Knowing what your clients do and who they interact with makes your life easier as a business person. If you want to build a referral-only business, you can do that so easily when you know every detail about your potential clients. Focus on working with business coaches (or real estate agents, or lawyers, whatever!), then learn about what they do – look at what others do. Understand the programs and services they use to run their businesses.

Learn more about their clients. When you know about your own clients, learn more about their clients. Where they find them, how they work with them, how they network with them. Remember if your clients don’t have clients, they won’t need you. If you can get a good idea of where they are connecting with their audience, you can keep an eye out for potential clients for them anywhere you travel.

Gather ideas, resources, and suggestions for them. Be on the lookout for things that might help your clients in their business. If you are surfing Facebook and you see a sponsored ad from a colleague that might be an interesting model for you client, send it along. If you come across an interesting tool or resource that might make your work easier with them – or their work easier with their clients – pass it along. A little research can go a long way. I know my clients love it when I send off a new resource that I think might help them in their business.

There are many things you can do to help your clients keep themselves busy (which keeps you busy!)

Now, I’m not suggesting that you surf the web for an hour for them each day, free of charge (this stuff is not billable!). I’m talking about being aware in your everyday travels to look for things that might be of interest to them.

It’s research that can pay for itself ten-fold (or more!) when your clients talk about you with their colleagues!

I get excellent feedback from my clients when I give them something that will help them do their jobs better, and you can too!

And never forget – the busier your clients are, the more work for you!

Tracey D'Aviero

Tracey D’Aviero is a veteran VA and Founder of Your VA Mentor. Tracey trains and mentors professional women and men who are brand new to the VA industry or who have been struggling to make their business successful. Her mission is to educate professionals on how to build and grow successful and profitable virtual businesses in the VA industry by implementing systems and smart principles. Contact Tracey for speaking engagements, group training or private coaching at