If you have been following this series, then you’ll recall that to date we’ve discussed what a virtual assistant (VA) is and does. We have also discussed some of the steps to planning your virtual assistant practice, transitioning into it, finding clients, and writing a business plan.
If you haven’t been following this series or seem to have forgotten parts of it, you may go to the navigation bar, click on “Virtual Assisting” and follow the drop-down menu to the “Series”.
Now we will discuss networks and organizations, which you can join both online and offline to help grow your virtual assistant practice. As you can imagine, there are no shortages of networks or VA organizations.
Networking both online and offline has always been an important part of growing any business. It is how people find out about you and your services. It is also how you connect and have important conversations about what you and your VA practice can do for them.
When I first started as a VA the two biggest online resources were VA Networking and the “Virtual Assistant Forum” at WAHM.com. I still believe that these are two of the best. You can join both of these for free, but the VA Networking site does have two paid areas if you would like to upgrade your membership. You may also donate to WAHM.com or pay for advertisement.
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If you don’t mind spending the money for membership, the IVAA (International Virtual Assistant Association) is still one of the oldest and most respected VA associations. There is also the newly founded VA League, which also offers great resources. I have known the founder, Candy Beauchamp, for years.
There are many more of them cropping up each day, but I tend to stick with the ones listed above. While WorkPlaceLikeHome.com doesn’t officially have a VA Forum, I have met many virtual assistants there who love to network and post VA-related jobs in the appropriate “Job Leads” sections.
There are also virtual assistant discussion groups both on LinkedIn and Facebook, so consider joining one of those, especially if you already have an account. You can meet other virtual assistants and potential clients as well.
Please be certain to understand the difference between networking and looking for work. Networking can lead to work, but its intention is always to make a connection. Not necessarily to make a sale, but it could lead to that. Sometimes the two terms can and do get confused. However, there are forums and discussion groups that will ban you if you are constantly soliciting work or trying to advertise.
In previous posts, we have talked about where to find clients. The question always comes up about Odesk, Elance, Vworker, Guru, and other bidding sites. While the pay is not the best, you can find clients and build your portfolio. You can also network within the guidelines provided by these sites, but be very careful to abide by their networking rules.
Another great place to network online is Biznik. It is primarily an online network of business professionals from different industries, but you can join for free and upgrade your membership as your business grows. Meetup is similar to Biznik, but also meets offline in your area.
Speaking of offline networking, your local Chamber of Commerce and BNI (Business Network International) are excellent ways to meet the local business community in your area. I have made valuable offline contacts, which have lead to online work.
For those of you who are VAs and actively networking, where are you networking?
- Understanding Virtual Assisting – Part 10 – Transitioning into Your Virtual Assistant Practice
- Understanding Virtual Assisting – Part 12 – Where Will You Find Your Clients?
- Understanding Virtual Assisting – Part 3 – Do I Need to Become Certified?
- What Will You Name Your VA Practice?
- Understanding Virtual Assisting – Part 5 – How Will You Structure Your VA Practice?