Understanding Virtual Assisting – Part 13 – Networking and Organizations for Your VA Practice

Updated on: by Leisa Good

Virtual AssistingIf 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.

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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.

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?

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Leisa Good

March 18, 2012 at 10:28 pm

The really cool thing is that new VA discussion groups are always popping up on Facebook and LinkedIn. Every month there seems to be a new one.

Megan

March 22, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Excellent post and very informative. I had no idea the different networks for virtual assistants. I also like your explanation of networking and not trying to get a job. It is very important to understand the difference.
Thanks for the links. Some of these websites I didn’t know existed.

Leisa Good

March 23, 2012 at 12:59 am

Thank you, Megan.

Stacy

March 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Great article. You are absolutely right,a virtual assistant must network in order to grow your businesses. I think many people assume that because they are a virtual assistant that the some rules of business doesn’t apply. You need to network no matter what business your running.

Leisa Good

March 26, 2012 at 9:21 am

Stacy, true. Many virtual assistants assume that because they are good at what they do AND have a web site, that’s all there is too getting business. There is too much competition to NOT network and get your name out there.