How To Leverage A Virtual Assistant For Networking

Whether you love it or hate it, the size and diversity of your professional network has a significant impact on your success. Research shows that success factors ranging from your access to key opportunities to your creative thinking abilities are affected by who you know.

Most professionals agree that networking is critical yet, according to LinkedIn, 49% don’t network as often as they want to because they don’t have time. Leveraging a virtual assistant solves this issue because they tackle all of the tedious research and task management responsibilities so that you can focus on building authentic relationships.

Learn how a virtual assistant can help you foster a stronger professional network.

1Leverage Your Existing Network

Often, when people decide to focus on building their network they focus solely on meeting new people. Overlooking your existing network is a huge lost opportunity. Your former colleagues, bosses, and college classmates you haven’t spoken to for years could now be in positions that make them highly valuable connections.

Even if you weren’t close, it’s often much easier to start conversations and foster a mutually beneficial relationship with existing contacts than with people you just met.

That being said, your time is limited so you have to be selective with who you reconnect with.

To find the most promising opportunities, have your virtual assistant mine your network for connections who fit your target profile. All you have to do is give them criteria that describe what those people look like and they’ll give you a list to reach out to.

We recommend creating guidelines around:

  • Industry
  • Location
  • Job titles

Once you approve your virtual assistant’s list, they can help you remember to reach out, track which connections respond and schedule meetings.

Related: How to Strengthen Your Network with a Contact Management System

2Find + Prepare For Networking Events

If you’re just starting to get more involved in your city’s networking scene, finding events that are worthwhile can be a challenge. It is often difficult to decipher which networking activities will be worth your time and money.

Instead of wasting time searching Meetup and LinkedIn, figure out what kinds of networking activities you want to participate in and let your virtual assistant do the research.

Give Your Assistant Research Guidelines

Research Criteria

  • Topic & audience
    • What themes are you interested in?
  • Price
    • Free or maximum cost
  • Location
    • How far are you willing to go for an event?
  • Time and dates
    • Do you prefer breakfast meetings or happy hours?
    • Events on weekdays or the weekends?
  • Other criteria
    • Any other guidelines you want them to pay attention to?

Using these guidelines, your virtual assistant will give you a list of events on a weekly or monthly basis (depending on your preference) so that you always know what relevant events are coming up.

Once you’ve decided what events you want to attend, your virtual assistant can help you prepare by RSVPing you, clearing space on your schedule, and researching speakers and/or attendees.

Is a quickskill Virtual Assistant Right for You?

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3Foster Lasting Relationships

One of the biggest professional networking mistakes leaders make is failing to stay in touch with their connections. Life gets busy and unless you have a system to manage your contacts you’ll miss out on all the collaboration opportunities you sought out by networking.

To foster lasting, mutually beneficial relationships you need to follow up on all action items from your conversations and check in periodically so that your connections remember that you’re a valuable part of their network.

With a virtual assistant, managing your contacts is easy. All you have to do is give them access to your CRM and inbox and share key information about your contacts including:

  • Details and action items from your conversations
  • Type of relationship
    • Ex: Prospect, potential business partner, investor, etc.
  • When you want to meet with them next

They’ll record all of that information in your CRM and give you follow-up reminders at the appropriate times so you don’t have to keep track of all your relationships.

If you don’t have a CRM, we strongly recommend getting one. Though it’s possible to manage your contacts using your email platform and a spreadsheet, it’s much easier to stay organized with a CRM. Don’t know which one to pick? Check out this guide:

How to Choose the Most Valuable CRM for Your Business

If you hire our virtual assistant service, your Engagement Manager will help you set up your CRM so it can effectively manage your professional network.

4Maximize the ROI of Conferences

Conferences bring together many of the brightest and most successful people in your industry, but, if you don’t plan them right, it’s difficult to get an ROI.

To justify your time and conference ticket, you need to walk away with several connections that have a strong likelihood of turning into successful business relationships.

Your virtual assistant can help you prepare for conferences and stay in touch with your new contacts.

Before a Conference

Your virtual assistant can help you prepare by:

  • Researching speakers and workshop leaders to give you recommendations on which ones to attend
  • Researching attendees to give you a list of key people to look for
  • Helping with travel and other arrangements as needed

After a Conference

Your virtual assistant can help you prepare by:

  • Logging all your new contacts into your CRM
  • Creating draft follow-up emails for every contact
  • Scheduling calls with contacts with whom you want to continue having a conversation

If there are any other tasks you need help with during your conference, loop in your virtual assistant. They are committed to helping you maximize your time.

Is a quickskill Virtual Assistant Right for You?

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5Network While Traveling

Business trips provide a great opportunity to catch up with long distance connections. To take advantage, offload travel management to your virtual assistant. Before booking your flights, they’ll give you a list of connections in the city you’re visiting and ask if you want to meet with any connections while you’re there.

If so, they’ll schedule meetings with those contacts and ensure your travel arrangements accommodate those extra stops by factoring in travel time in between meetings and provide directions to each location.

Grow Your Professional Network Without The Hassle

Leveraging a virtual assistant for professional networking lets you maintain an ever-growing network without having to waste time doing all of the research and task management required to find opportunities and stay in touch.

Our virtual assistants are trained to support you with these professional networking activities.

Reach out if you need help getting a virtual assistant to help with your networking or have any questions.

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

There are several ways to engage a remote virtual assistant. There are three broad categories for hiring:

  • Directly hiring a freelancer in-country or overseas from a job board.
  • Use a contract virtual assistant agency.
  • Use a managed virtual assistant service provider.

There are pros and cons for each model of hiring, and finding the right approach depends on your needs, your resources, and the amount of time and money you want to invest.

Hiring a Freelancer

Hiring a freelancer, especially overseas, is usually the least expensive route, and the dollar goes a long way in countries like India and the Philippines.

Freelancers will likely cost more, communication is sometimes easier, and depending on your arrangement and your need for synchronous work the time zones can be an issue.

Hiring a freelancer is also the highest risk option in terms of quality control, reliability, and accountability as freelancers can have other priority clients or commitments that keep them from meeting deadlines. Sometimes freelancers just disappear.

It’s also the model with the most significant lift on you.

You recruit, interview, hire, train, pay, and manage the virtual assistant. Most freelancers work from home offices and IT security can be a concern.

Finally, finding a freelancer with experience using your sales tools—CRM, project management, etc. can be challenging.

About Freelance Marketplaces

You can also hire a virtual assistant through a freelance marketplace. This model is typically used for short-term projects, not ongoing relationships. That is starting to change.

You have the same risks as with a freelancer, though the marketplace can mitigate some risks of poor quality and missed deadlines.

These freelancers are often getting multiple projects from multiple clients, so consistent availability can also be a challenge.

Using a Contract Agency

Using a contract virtual assistant agency will usually get you a vetted virtual assistant with a validated resume and track record.

As with a freelancer, performance management and training with a contract agency are up to you, and it really depends on how much time you can and want to invest in those responsibilities.

Contractors can also have multiple clients unless you plan to engage the assistant 40 hours a week. There are several contract agencies with overseas and/or U.S.-based virtual assistants

This model will be a bit more expensive than hiring a freelancer directly, especially if the assistants are in the U.S. Most work in home offices with home computers and again, security can be a concern.

As with freelancers, it could take longer to find a VA that knows your sales tools.

Managed Virtual Assistant Service

With a managed virtual assistant service, the service provider recruits, hires, trains, and manages the virtual assistants on your tools and processes.

The assistants are full-time employees of the service provider. Many also train backup assistants to make sure you’re always covered. Account managers monitor performance and client satisfaction and work with you to offload more and more processes to the assistant as they get to know your business.

There’s no direct management on your part.

Most managed service providers use virtual assistants offshore, but instead of working from a home office, the assistants work in secure facilities with encrypted networks and company-owned computers.

With this model, you are able to engage a virtual assistant in a few days with no management or training needed on your part.

Spend More Time Selling

Virtual assistants can help you free up more time to sell, and prevent you from paying yourself to do all of your own admin work.

VAs can also streamline your sales processes to improve overall operational efficiency by keeping your CRM current, documenting all sales processes, and updating sales materials.

Looking for help finding a virtual assistant? Let’s chat about your needs today.

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