One of the things I love about networking the most is how relationships can develop. Good friends, good information, good business. Developing a business as a VA requires networking both online and offline. It’s important to get a good mix of the two. Some are so desperate for the ‘virtual’ thing to start happening that they overlook the importance of laying foundations – and often those foundations need to be on solid ground, not cyber space.
Getting in the middle of the networks that your target client base mixes in is an ideal way to start – let people get to know your face and name. It’s funny but people only have to meet you two or three times and suddenly they ‘know’ you and start telling people that they’ve met you if your name is raised in conversation. Relationship building is so important in business and although technically we are virtual operators, the reality is that many of our first clients come through the building of personal relationships – and eventually they refer others to us that become truly virtual. The new clients come on the word of someone they trust (our older client) – again, very much a relationship thing.
For example – I joined the National Speakers Association of Australia to learn about public speaking and to learn more about what a client of mine was doing about 4 or 5 years ago. I ended up getting to know the members of the association, being involved in their association, and today my team supports nearly 40 members of this association around Australia.
Never underestimate the power of networking – you never know where it can lead, who you will meet, what you might get to do. I guess the talk about the ‘old boys’ network’ is very true – often it’s not what you know, but who you know, that can help you get ahead.