Approximately 90% of people who are in business, hate face to face networking. Business networking for virtual assistants can be a challenge. It can be the idea of walking into a room full of strangers and starting a conversation, it can be the fear of self-promotion or it can be basically the effort you have to put in before and after the event.
It really doesn’t matter what you don’t like about business networking, the fact remains that it can be good for your business and this shy most small business owners take the leap of faith and attend a networking event.
A lot of virtual assistants feel isolated in their business because for one reason or another they can’t actually attend face to face networking events. The good news is that this is not an issue. The process for face to face networking can actually be followed online. You do have to adjust a few things but by and large it can be more effective networking online that going to an actual event. It is certainly a lot more cost effective.
Business networking is about building relationships and building relationships is about showing an interest in others, asking the right questions and being as helpful as possible. You need to like the person and they need to like you. This takes time and effort. Like any relationship, you need to constantly work at it and communicate well so that both parties get some benefit.
For example, if you were going out on the weekend looking to meet someone that you want to build a relationship that would lead to a more lasting personal journey like marriage. You wouldn’t expect to meet someone and on the same night ask them to marry you! It’s the same when it comes to your business. It takes a few meetings, a few discussions, some interactions and even a few helpful gestures before you would consider that you are on a path to building a relationship.
The typical steps in building a business relationship for a virtual assistant or VA:
The benefits of the above is that you can achieve this in a few weeks with minimal cost. Think of the effort and cost you need to expend in attending a networking event and building a relationship with someone face to face. You would:
You can see from the above list that this could actually take months before you consider that you know them well enough to start talking about how you can help each other in your business.
Yes, there will be times where it may take a fraction of this time but generally you can plan a 3 month lead time before your connections and efforts start paying off. When networking online, this can be reduced to a few weeks.
So make a daily plan – start connecting and building relationships that will help you in your business.