Kathy Colaiacovo, President
BIG NEWS from IVAA – we are moving to an entirely new website, membership and email marketing platform. It's been a lot of work planning this revamp of
systems and the Board of Directors are very excited about the upcoming changes. Stay tuned for our January issue of IVAACast as we roll out the changes and
we will reach out and let you know what you need to do in order to stay connected and receive your monthly issue of IVAACast.
This month our IVAACast focus is on Networking for your Business.
Networking… AGH! Networking is a dreaded word for so many business owners and Virtual Assistants are not an exception. Oftentimes I meet new business
owners and VAs and they have lots of questions about building their business. My first query to help them in their situation is always – Where are you
networking? What kind of events are you going to and who is there?
And what follows is the typical litany of reasons why they are not going to any networking events.
This is a key factor in building your business. Whether you do it online or in person, networking must be part of your business building activities if you
want to reach more people and grow your client list.
People need to get to know you and learn what you offer. You need to share this with other people and honestly, as much as I love networking online and
using Twitter and Facebook – when you start I always tell people "Start Local then Go Global."
I strongly encourage you to get out at least two times a month and attend a local networking group – look online for Networking groups in your area. Check
Meetup.com for some, ask at the Chamber of Commerce, look at local business district groups and see what they offer. There is always somewhere to start.
And yes, the majority will cost a fee to be part of it whether it is a drop in fee or a planned membership – it is a way to invest in yourself and your
business to build your network of people. People will learn what services you have and can be a referral point for you or use your services direct. But
if you are not out there connecting with anyone – you will not find yourself reaching any potential clients.
So, as you make your plans for 2015, look at what local groups are out there that you can check out and take that first step in networking as an effective tool
to build your business and sales.
Enjoy the other tidbits in today's issue on Networking.
Top 5 Networking tips for VAs
By Christine Bearse
For many of us the idea of in-person networking makes us cringe and change the subject. When my children were small I had a very hard time getting out of
the house to network. I couldn't attend many of the BNI or Chamber of Commerce meetings that were happening in the morning. Once they started school I
found it hard to go to evening events in between their sports and other after school activities, and well, who even has the energy?
If you look around you will notice that the people who are signing on new clients are going out and meeting people on a consistent basis. So, I started
making the time to do it and the rewards were surprising.
Here are my top 5 networking tips:
Be interested –
Let's face it, when you go to a networking meeting/event you want to get your message out. You want as many people as possible to understand what you do
and hopefully find what you do useful to them. So, of course that is what the person you are talking to is thinking also. You will find when you stop
thinking about yourself and start asking more questions about what the other person does, they will instantly like you.
Be interesting –
Spend some time thinking of something you can say that is unexpected or out of the ordinary. Being a woman, many people seem to be fascinated by the fact
that I was in the military after high school. It is a real conversation starter. I am sure you have something interesting you can share also.
– This means keep going to the same groups so people can get to know you. Introduce yourself and your business the same way each time. Remember people feel
comfortable doing business with people they know, like and trust.
Set a goal
– Well of course I wasn't going to go through a whole article without suggesting this. One goal I often set for myself is to learn as much as possible
about 20 people so I can send AWESOME follow-up emails to them.
And this leads me to the last tip: Personal Follow-up! If someone tells me they are going to follow up with me whether it
is a quote, more information about their services or setting an appointment, I wait. If they don't contact me, then I move on. Many times if they do
contact me as promised, I do business with them over someone I haven't met. It's really that simple. You took the steps to meet some new people, don't miss
the opportunity afterwards by feeling like you would be bothering them by making contact. Most people will be thrilled that you are taking the time to
personally reach out.
WORKING WITH A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
What's your networking plan?
By Tracey D'Aviero
We often say that effective networking is one of the keys to success in your business. And it is. Relationship building is really important to the
growth of your business, and to your own growth as well.
But what if you don't know what you are doing? What if you don't know if you are doing it right?
Believe it or not, there are right ways and wrong ways to network.
You can even potentially harm your business if you are doing it wrong!
Not all networking is good networking. Hard to believe, but it's true. Here's what I mean:
If you are spending time going to a local business networking meeting, and you are not reaching your potential clients, that's not good networking.
If your potential clients are in the group, but you are not getting referrals or good connections, that is not good networking.
If you are spending all day on social media but not interacting with people (and having them interact with you), that is not good networking.
So what do you do?
Well the first thing you have to do is to put a strategy in place.
Ask yourself these questions for each and every networking event or effort you decide to take part in:
What is your specific goal for the event/effort? Set a very specific intention: how many business cards to get for follow up, or how many sales
conversations to request, or how many people to invite to a teleclass, etc.
How are you going to reach your goal? If you are meeting people in person, how will you use your time at the event? If you are on social media, what is
your tactic to get the interaction from the others?
Why will people be interested to speak with you or interact with you? Plan some conversation starters, and think about questions that you can ask. The
art of conversation is challenging for some people, so if you need to get help with it, be sure to do that. It gets easier with practice – and it also gets
easier when you get results!
What is your follow up for anyone who you reach out to? Specifically you want to have a plan in place to do your follow up. A lot of networking fails in
the follow up procedure, so make sure yours is detailed and solid. And then do it!
When you go into any situation with a carefully laid out plan, you will simply do better with your efforts. The more often you put yourself into networking
situations, the more practice you will get.
Then you have to analyze what went right and what went wrong. Change the things that went wrong for next time, and you will constantly be improving your
efforts. And go for quality, not quantity … always.
For instance if you go to a live event and you decide that you need to get 40 business cards, what does that look like? How much time does that give you to
speak with each person? If it's only a one day event … that's not very much time! What are you going to do with all of the business cards? If you don't
have a plan you might lose a potential sale simply by choosing quantity over quality.
Perhaps a better goal would be to have really good conversations with 8 to 10 potential clients (collect all 40 cards and then quickly pinpoint the ones
you want to connect more closely with). Then you can plan to ask them specific questions about their business – you know, have a conversation! And have a
great follow up plan in place for afterwards. Quality is always better than quantity when networking.
By connecting personally with specific people at the event, and having meaningful and memorable conversations with them, you will leave a better impression
and your follow up will be much easier. And you will find that you will be signing better clients faster. We all only have so much time to connect with
people everywhere we go. Be sure to make your time count by doing some good planning, strategy, and great networking!
As a board member, we committed to rotating our attendance at IVAA coffee chats. These are always lively and engaging forums for everyone in attendance.
Networking is very often a topic of discussion or the answer to "how do I find more clients" or "how do I get myself known to….". Networking can be done
online & is very often most effective in person, yet it is still a challenge even for those of us comfortable starting a conversation with strangers.
Don't feel like you are alone in this uncomfortable space, we are all there and more often than we admit. Speak to just one new person each time & soon
it will become easier.
Where do virtual professionals network best? When they are among their peers! Join us in Myrtle Beach, SC for our Live Summit and practice among the best
& brightest, the newest & the veteran, the shy & the extroverted talkers.
Watch your email announcing registration.
Networking is practically non-stop from the moment you step out of your room in the mornings. Like-minded people gather during breakfasts, lunches,
breaks and any other time there is a break in the action.
Meet new allies, make new friends, and yes, visit with old friends too. Networking doesn't always have to be about work! We have some evening activities
available as well and you still have time to influence these activities by completing our interest form.
We look forward to "seeing you at the beach"!
STAFF WRITER BIOS
Christine Bearse ran her own successful VA business for over 6 years before becoming a business and goal setting coach. As the Goal Whisperer, she now helps women business owners overcome the obstacles they face when trying to grow their businesses and achieve their goals. Read more about her and how she can unlock your potential at christinebearse.com.
Tracey D'Aviero is a veteran VA and Founder of Your VA Mentor. Her mission is to provide education, inspiration and motivation to Virtual Assistants to help them build and grow successful businesses. She teaches teach them business and marketing skills and strategies, and mentors them as they implement those skills. Visit www.yourvamentor.com to learn about upcoming VA training programs and to pick up some great free resources.