by Caroline Walker, VA & Founder of Balenst
As a newly established VA, I found that I was spending most of my time on social media. Joining Facebook groups, responding to Posts, connecting with people on LinkedIn. Which, by the way, was a complete minefield to me with not having to use LinkedIn before.
I wasn’t getting it! Was I using these ‘tools’ incorrectly? As nothing was happening. NO is the answer, it just takes patience in understanding who you are, what you are doing and who you want to work with.
So, I started connecting with people in my local area, and sending a short introduction message. I then had a response from one of them inviting me to a local networking group which just happened to be that Friday and very close to where I live.
OMG! I suddenly realised that I would be networking face to face with business individuals, something I had never done before and HATED the idea of it. But then I realised, I’m not actually daunted by this, I am really excited. This could be a game changer for me.
It's great working from home and we all know the benefits, especially if you have children and a household to look after too. But working from home and doing so much on social media can be quite isolating. There is a lot to be said about getting dressed up, going out and talking to people face to face, it’s a HUGE confidence boost.
So, I went. On my own, feeling a little bit sick! Luckily, I met my connection outside and she introduced me to other members who were from all different industries; Plumber, Builder, Travel Consultant, Financial Advisor to name a few.
I was welcomed with open arms and felt very comfortable with this environment. It didn’t take long for me to realise it was soon going to be my turn to stand up and give a 60 second speech about me and my business. Ok, so this is when my heart starts racing, my mind goes blank, and my hands are getting very clammy. Then I went into ‘mum mode’; telling myself to calm down, it's just 60 seconds talking about ‘me’, how hard can it be? I couldn’t tell you what I actually said, it was all a bit of a blur, bit like when I got married, saying my vows in front of friends and family! Anyway, I was given a round of applause and was even approached at the end by one of the members asking me if I would stand in for her next week. I did, and not only did I do another speech about me, I also did hers too.
Needless to say, this networking group has given me confidence in myself and my business. I, I took myself right out of my comfort zone and I nailed it.
Present day, my membership application has gone in, which secures my place as the only VA in this group, (bonus) and I have been told that previous VA’s have had to cancel their subscription after 3 months due to the volume of work they have picked up.
I have another meeting to attend tomorrow. Roll on the cuppa, bacon sandwich and talking with great business owners. And already it has opened up my network within LinkedIn, I have had a telephone call about some potential work, and I have a 1-2-1 with a local business coach scheduled for next week 😊
These networking groups are there for a reason, everyone is in the same boat. We all want to be successful, so use them. Put yourself out there, be seen, be heard and reap what you sow.
Whether or not they're potential clients or suppliers. Once people get to know you, like you and trust you, they'll start putting business your way, either directly or by referrals.
Caroline created her VA business, Balenst at the age of 46, after she became fed up of office politics, daily commuting, and missing out on her daughter growing up.
She spends her days working from her home office in Rutland, supporting busy people by helping them with the jobs that stop them doing what they love most, whether thats spending time with their families or building a more lucrative business.
Caroline credits taking herself out of her comfort zone and self-belief for creating her new way of life, allowing her and her family to have more time to do the things that make them happy.