Networking is one of the most important ways to invest in the future of your business, but it can also be pretty difficult. Not only do you have to find the right opportunities to network, but you also need to find the courage to speak to the people you want to impress.
The good news for introverted virtual assistants and busy business leaders is that there are various ways you can start networking today without having to attend expensive events and dinners.
Online networking can be an excellent way to build a valuable community, without the stress.
Of course, just like all forms of networking, you’re still going to need an effective strategy. Keep these tips in mind for effective online networking.
Decide Where to Network
Probably the most important part of building a successful online networking strategy is deciding where you’re going to connect with potential clients and peers.
Social media channels like LinkedIn are generally a good place to start, but you can also go further and check out places like Skype groups and forums specifically for the virtual assistant industry and also the niche within which you work. You can also find a lot of great people to connect with on places like Twitter.
Keep your eyes open for digital and virtual events too. These are becoming increasingly popular, and they often come with chat rooms and networking spaces where you can reach out to others with shared interests.
Connect with the Right People
As tempting as it might be to build a relationship with influencers or thought leaders, the reality is that it’s important to think carefully about who you reach out to.
Look for industry peers and people who can teach you something.
Connecting with people who already have a strong presence within the VA industry or a link to the businesses you want to work with can be a good idea too.
Keep an open mind when making your relationships online. You might be surprised to discover who can make a difference to the future of your business. If someone offers to introduce you to someone they think could help you, take advantage.
When you’re starting out in networking, schedule a few hours every week where you can check out what’s happening on social media, read up on the content shared on your favorite forums, and participate in relevant conversations.
You’ll want to have an active online presence if you want to make those connections count.
Remember to check your news feed on a daily basis when you can, and at the very least try to update your LinkedIn status with a few relevant factoids or links to relevant news stories from your industry.
The more people who see you online, the more likely it is they’ll feel connected to you and want to strike up a conversation.
Follow Up Regularly
If you’re going to really grow a successful network online, you’ll probably need to work harder at making connections than if you were networking offline. You can’t expect to have the same emotional link to someone online as you do in-person, so you’re going to need to speak to the people you meet more often.
Make a habit of regularly getting online and devoting time to following up with the people you’ve already met.
If you’ve already spoken to someone on social media quite a few times and you want to strengthen the relationship, ask them to connect over the phone, meet with you on a video conference, or even meet up for a coffee (pitch-free!).
The more connections you can make, the better.
Be Helpful and Informative
The more you invest in networking, the more you’ll learn that people want to connect with others whom they believe can help them out. The more informative, helpful, and knowledgeable you are, the more valuable you become.
This doesn’t mean you should be constantly asking your contacts if you can do anything for them but make a concentrated effort to share useful information that will help your connections whenever you can.
On LinkedIn, you can write posts where you talk about your experiences in the industry. On forums, you can respond to questions being asked by other people in your space.
It’s also worth looking for ways to be helpful in other ways too, like responding to emails where people ask for your input or getting involved with podcasts and interviews. But do remember that this is your business so whilst you may want to divulge what to do keep the”how” closer to your chest, unless they are willing to pay for your expertise. Also, don’t get sucked into giving your time away for free if there are actual paying clients waiting on you.
Keep Working on It
You won’t always be an instant success when you start networking with your peers. It might take a while for people to respond to you, and some might ignore you completely.
Get comfortable talking to yourself!
The key to success, as in most things, is to keep working.
Don’t let it get you down if you struggle with building your network initially. Keep focusing on your goals and practicing.
Over time, you’ll learn how to become more effective at building relationships. What’s more, those relationships will help you to achieve your goals in your virtual assistant business.
Ready to build connections in the VA world?
Northern VA Collaboration Event 2022
hosted by Angela Dawson & Nicola Burt-Skinner
September 17th, 2022
Venue: Copthorne Hotel, Newcastle