Originally published by Carmen MacDougall in 2011 where she shared her thoughts on networking.

Are you (still) feeling nervous about attending a networking event?
Are you stuck what to say?
Are you consistently leaving a networking meeting without the desired results?

Getting results from your networking, va membership, va training courses uk, support for virtual assistantsWith more VAs setting up in business it is even more crucial you are standing out! And networking in person is a great way of raising your profile and becoming known as the ‘go-to-VA’.  Networking will help you in becoming the go-to Virtual Assistant.

I remember by first experience of networking…I was TERRIFIED!!…All around the room were mostly (what seemed to be) older men in suits, looking much more experienced than myself and least likely to look at me as an equal. After all, in effect, I was just a PA (were my thoughts).

I was unprepared not knowing what to expect. I did not like the idea of selling so avoided talking about my business which defeated the point of being there, I just felt awkward. Nobody told me I had to stand up for a minute to ‘sell’ my business…although I learnt later that this was a one minute awareness presentation not selling.

I came from a marketing background and was used to creating awareness, but the thought of selling put me off as I just hated it when people tried to sell to me.? And in any case, why would someone want to buy from me if they didn’t know me, after all, I had just attended as a visitor.  My first networking event felt like such a disaster, having spent good money on a brand new suit, I thought I would make an impact.

When I opened my mouth it was like rubbish coming out of my mouth, which started to dry up and my tongue was out of control! I didn’t quite know what to say to get people to understand that using a VA was going to benefit their business, they couldn’t get their head around the fact that it was more cost effective than employing someone.

I knew I had to change my angle to create a different reaction, not forgetting this was over ten years ago when people didn’t understand the concept of VAs as they do now.

I changed my angle, changed what I said when explaining the benefits of using a VA and got very different and very positive results. This created such a boost to my confidence…in fact I was soon invited to give a ten-minute presentation…people started getting it and referrals started to roll in.

However, I didn’t restrict my networking to local meetings, I attended business conferences as well as networking with my personal contacts. I was also given referrals to contacts of two of my new clients and that was very empowering networking.? The relationship had already been built as they trusted the judgement of my clients.

Even recently, when I was talking about my VA services to people, even if they had spoken to VAs before, they didn’t always quite get the concept of how using a VA would add value to their business…and they would either contract my business or pass on contacts.

I listen to other professionals describe their business, either in conversation or in the 40-second or 1-minute pitch, and they quite often will either state what they ‘are’ or will ‘tell us what we need’ without really knowing what we need!

Today, the VA Training Academy® has a specific course helping you with networking and becoming the go-to Virtual Assistant.  Today the VA Membership contains a stand alone networking course to help those feeling a little under confident about networking and you can join the VA Membership for a monthly fee or an annual discounted pass.  When you join you will get access to over a 100+ hours of training materials that are CPD accredited.  Would you like to learn have a sneaky peak behind the scenes of the VA Membership this blog shares some of the key features in a behind the scenes viewing.