Improve Your In-Person Networking To Make Better Connections
Attending networking events is fun, and can be very rewarding, but are you making the most of your efforts each time you take time to go to one?
Think about your last five networking events. How many clients have you signed up? How many great connections did you make?
Virtual assistants sometimes avoid in person networking because so many of us are introverts. I always recommend learning to do it well, even if you find it uncomfortable.
Networking in person is one of the best ways to quickly build your VA business.
But when you attend a live event, whether it’s a casual meet up or a bigger event, remember that you are doing it for a reason – to get clients.
Now that doesn’t mean that you will go to an event and come home with 10 clients (wouldn’t that be great?). But you need to meet people who can potentially be your VA clients, and have conversations with them so that they know how you can help them with their business.
How do you do that? You need to have a strategy for every event you decide to attend. It might differ slightly from event to event, but you need to understand why you are attending, and know what you need to come away with.
Here are 5 tips to help Virtual Assistants strategically prepare for better results at live networking events:
1- Set a goal
The first thing you need to do is set a goal. That might be talking to a certain number of people, or finding a certain number of existing contacts and deepening your relationship with someone you already know, or collecting a certain number of business cards for follow up, or reaching out to someone for a partnership or referral. Your goal is personal and it’s up to you. But make sure that it’s very specific. By knowing exactly what you intend to get out of the event, you can better manage your time and activity while you are there.
2- Identify who is attending
You need to be aware of who else is going to the event. If there are no potential VA clients there for you, think twice about even going. Not all local events are good for you. Sometimes you can find out specifically who is attending if there is a Facebook event for it. Have a look at some of the people who are attending. You might even identify a few that you want to make a point of connecting with. Or reach out to them ahead of time and let them know you are looking forward to seeing them at the event.
3- Prepare conversation starters
The talking part is usually the most daunting part for VAs when networking. But it really doesn’t need to be. If this part stresses you out, consider preparing a few questions to ask people – ice breakers or conversation starters. Another idea might be to scan a few industry related blogs before you attend, so you can talk about those. There are so many great ways to begin or continue conversations, but sometimes it take preparing ahead a little bit, and it can be very effective to do so.
4- Know the answers
While you are having a conversation with someone, you will want to seed your expertise. We call it seeding because it is easy to do and is less ‘salesy’ than most VAs like to be. So when someone asks you how working with a VA works (for example) maybe you then ask them to give you an example of something they would outsource, and you can take them through how that might work. It’s relevant to their business and showcases your expertise at the same time.
5- Analyze each event
After the event is over, take a bit of time to analyze every conversation you had. What did you say that worked? What did you say that did not work? Did you get roped into a conversation you could not get out of? What could you do differently next time? Analyzing what happened and what you can change for next time is an important part of mastering your networking.
Networking is a necessary part of building your business. And with a bit of strategy and some preparation, you can make it work better for you, every time.
Take a moment now to look at your calendar. When is your next networking event?
Use the steps above to build a strategy for it. Figure out who is going, what you want to accomplish, and do your pre-work so you are prepared to have memorable conversations with the other attendees.
You’ll be more confident, you’ll make a better impression, and you might even find your next client!
For more great info about networking for your VA business, check out my free networking videos for Virtual Assistants on my Youtube channel.
About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in a many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.