Let’s face it: networking can feel a bit cringy.
Even the word can make you shudder (it did for me anyway!) It used to remind me of the times I attended events in my corporate life wearing a nametag and taking part in ice-breaking exercises – yuk.
But networks and networking are such a powerful source of clients and referrals for Virtual Assistants, even if you don’t think you have an existing network in the first place. In fact, you actually have two types of networks, even if you don’t think you do! And that means two sources of potential warm leads to tap into.
But even though we probably know all this already, a lot of VAs avoid making the most of their networks – or they do it a little half-heartedly. But when that happens we’re missing a trick, and I’m here to share why that is and how you can become a bit of a networking pro.
But before I dive into the good stuff, I have a feeling that some of you might be a bit put off by the word ‘networking’ itself. If that’s you, let’s just call this A guide to making the most of your connections for Virtual Assistants.
Ok, let’s crack on.
What’s a network?
A network is any group of people you know or can get to know. Most of us have two types of networks; personal and professional. Our networks hang out in different places so where you can find them is pretty unique to you, but our personal contacts can be at the end of a Whatsapp message, on Facebook or in the house next door.
Our professional network includes people who we’ve worked with, in the past or present, and anyone else we’ve met along the way in professional circumstances. Mine are on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and at the end of an email. I’ve also made contacts at in-person events and over a glass of wine (always a nice ice breaker). Your network will grow with each new connection you make.
Why we’re put off
- You don’t want to bother people
- You feel embarrassed’
- You don’t think they’ll remember me
- You don’t think they’ll know what a VA does
- You won’t know anyone who may need my support
The list could go on! But the gist of it is that we can get hung up on a whole host of reasons why we shouldn’t reach out to people. And the reason we think these things is either to do with a misconception on our part, or a lack of confidence. The misconception is that we don’t have any proof that people would:
- Be bothered by us
- Think we are embarrassing
- Not remember us
- Not know what a VA does
- Not know anyone who needs VA support
And even if 3 (not remembering us) or 4 (not knowing what a VA does) were true, they can be remedied with a very quick explanation or reminder message.
And if 5 (not knowing anyone who needs VA support) were true, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t know someone in need in a few months’ time. And in that case, you’d be the first person they’d recommend because you’d be front of mind.
And if 1 (be bothered by us) or 2 (think we are embarrassing) were true, they’re not the types of people who you’d want in your network anyway and you’d lose nothing by them not replying to you!
And the confidence part? Well, that takes some work but it’s the most valuable work you’ll ever do. I journal daily, write affirmations, do EFT tapping and take action even when it feels uncomfortable. And here I am, having replaced my corporate salary in my first year, still going strong!
But in terms of networking, here are the reasons why you shouldn’t be put off:
- We LIKE helping people, especially when it’s a new business venture. So let people help, ok?
- The people you’ve worked within the past know how great you are and will be happy to recommend you (or hire you if they need a VA)
- People WANT to be given a recommendation when it comes to hiring a VA. It’s often the first big hire a business owner makes
- The more you show up and nurture relationships, the faster like and trust factor is built
- People who know you personally will of course be happy to share your details with potential clients
To reconnect with those contacts, tell everyone what you’re doing, make new connections, nurture your relationships and use a simple tracking sheet to make sure you’re being as thorough and consistent as possible.