Networking is vital in business; for some small businesses in particular it is the main way that clients are found - either directly or through referrals. Although crucial, networking can be time consuming and expensive. It can be a long term game, but it's all worth it when you see income generated.
As a business owner it will often fall to you to represent your business. When you are busy with clients there may be the temptation to curb your networking, but you need to keep going to maintain ongoing work. A real Catch 22 situation. If you are self-employed, no employees and no one to help you, there is no other option but to do the networking yourself. Or is there?
Picture this: You're swamped with work, you tear yourself away to go to the networking meeting, you don't prepare for your 60 second pitch, clock watch the whole time and rush off as soon as it's finished clutching a stack of business cards. You return to the office, add the cards to an ever growing pile and crack on with work. You don't action any follow-up activities, don't get any one to ones booked in and all the connections are soon forgotten. The time and money spent networking - wasted.
Sound familiar? We've all been there, but how do you avoid it? Use the capable extra pair of hands of your own Girl Friday, a virtual assistant or personal assistant, who will ensure that you are getting the best value for the networking that you do. Here's how!
Your Girl Friday will:
· Research your networking options and book you into relevant groups. You will attend networking groups where your ideal clients and referrers are likely to be
· Book the meetings into your diary, niftily scheduling time for one to ones before and after at the same venue to maximise your time
· Ensure you have stock of business cards and printed promotional items
· Set a reminder for the meeting, and prompt you to prepare your marketing pitch
· Log contact information after the meeting and send follow-up communications out
· Invite interesting contacts to meet with you for a one to one so that you can both find more out about each other and your businesses
· Deal with incoming queries and requests for one to ones and arrange accordingly
· Update your diary with any booked and potential upcoming meetings.
In essence, all you need to do is turn up to the meeting and be passionate about your business and your Girl Friday will take care of the rest. If your assistant is locally based, you could even task her to represent the business on your behalf. A PA worth her salt will get to know and understand the nature and principles of your business.
Taking part in and visiting business exhibitions is another great way to network. Your Girl Friday will notify you when a relevant exhibition is advertised and book you a stand or a ticket. Again, she'll be on hand to help with your preparations and follow ups; ordering promotional stock, sourcing props for a stand and following up with any contacts made. She could even help you on the day. When you have the right Personal Assistant for you, you will be able to trust her as a brand ambassador.
The moral of this story is - a PA will work with you to help you get your marketing message out there and to grow your client base. She will be on hand to help you manage your new client and work load. Your Girl Friday will help you keep a healthy work/life balance because you can confidently delegate tasks to her. What's stopping you finding your perfect PA now?