You and I know that networking is a great opportunity for meeting valuable contacts and developing new business relationships. So isn’t it frustrating when you find yourself attending one non-productive networking event after another? You invest valuable time and money on these events, only to come away feeling that you’ve wasted yet another day or evening. So why do you keep having failed networking attempts?
Maybe it’s high time you consider using other strategies that will get you the results you desire. Did you know that, by delegating most of your networking tasks to a virtual assistant – someone you hire over the Internet – you can change your networking failures into successes? A virtual assistant can help you shine like a star at networking events, and leave a lasting impression in the minds of your new contacts.
Here are seven ways that a virtual assistant can handle the necessary tasks to be done before, during and after networking events.
1. Research and Target Relevant Networking Events
Planning for any networking event is necessary. In addition, you need to make the right connections, who will be useful to you and whom you can offer something of value to. A virtual assistant can research and identify the right networking events. You’ll then be free to focus on targeting the right groups and meeting suitable contacts.
Take action: Have a virtual assistant figure out who will be attending a suitable, upcoming networking event. The virtual assistant can then contact them by sending out emails to introduce you. It will be a starting point for when you actually meet at the event.
2. Order Business Cards to Bring
A virtual assistant can take care of designing and ordering your business cards, flyers, and much more, so you can be free to focus on giving your best at the networking event.
Take action: Register with FedEx Kinkos, an online printing company. A virtual assistant can use it to design your business cards and flyers and email them to you for approval before they’re printed.
3. Research Speakers and Attendees
When you’re networking, you have 30 seconds to deliver your elevator pitch, because first impressions count. Your pitch should be meaningful, distinguish you from others, and hold the other person's interest. That said, nothing can be a better conversation starter than mentioning something you have in common or something interesting about the person that most people might not even know about.
Take action: Have your virtual assistant research those who will be attending the event and give you any useful information, which you can use as a basis for starting conversations.
4. Post Tweets for You
Networking event hashtags are becoming a common practice these days. It’s a great way to let others know that you’ll be attending and to connect with other people. And you don’t have to do the tweeting yourself. The trick is to get a virtual assistant to tweet for you.
Take action: Determine the Twitter hashtag for the next networking event you’re attending. During the event, have a virtual assistant tweet at other attendees, letting them know exactly where you’re located and inviting them to come over and chat.
5. Contact the Host to Offer Help
Helping the host or organizers during a networking event will put you in a prime position. You will be in the front line, where you’ll have the opportunity to meet a lot of people. Not only that, you’ll get noticed as well. Imagine how you’ll stand out while doing something useful.
Take action: Before you attend the next three networking events, think about offering your services. Get a virtual assistant to call the organizers to find out what type of help they will need with planning or working on the day of the event.
6. Follow Up with Contacts You Made
Let’s say the networking event was successful, and you met some new contacts. How do you go about turning those contacts into meaningful, long-term relationships? The first thing to do is to win their trust and keep it. But you need to follow up within 24 hours after the event. If you don’t, they could easily forget about you.
To show commitment, make a quick note on their business cards after you’ve spoken to them. It could be about something interesting they shared with you or a description of them to jog your memory.
Take action: Register with an online service such as SendOutCards. A virtual assistant can log in, select personalized cards, and send follow-up messages to people you met immediately after the networking event. This company prints, stamps, and posts the card, which is delivered to the contact’s mailbox.
7. Set Up Meetings
Following up socially will take your newly formed relationship to another level. Show interest in them as a person. Don’t be interested just because of what you can get from them; instead, be a true resource and find ways to deliver more value to them. Figure out what you can do for them and let them know that you would like to meet up again for coffee, lunch, or drinks.
Take action: Set up Google Calendar. A virtual assistant can use it to schedule times to follow up with your new contacts on a regular basis, and also to arrange a meeting with them at Starbucks.
Sweepstakes: Win a Virtual Assistant for Two Weeks
This guest post is meant to highlight strategic ways a virtual assistant can assist you with networking-related tasks so that you can focus on becoming a better networker at networking events. That said, a virtual assistant can do a lot more than that. If you’re interested in trying it out, then enter the sweepstakes below to win a virtual assistant free for 14 days, a $179 value!
How to Enter
Answer the following four questions completely in the comments section, by midnight on October 1, 2012.
- What recurring business activity currently consumes most of your time?
- What do you struggle with the most as you try to run your business?
- What has kept you from hiring a virtual assistant?
- What would you do with the time freed up by a virtual assistant?
Guest author Owen McGab Enaohwo is the founder of H.Y.V.A.™, a company that provides entrepreneurs with reliable virtual assistants. He’s also the creator of the Virtual Assistant Blueprint ™, a free video course for time-strapped entrepreneurs. Get instant access now and discover the five most costly mistakes to avoid before you hire a virtual assistant, and the five ways to guarantee that you get your desired results from a virtual assistant.