Joining Industry Specific Organizations Has Many Benefits
By Janice Byer, CCVA, MVA
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Recently, while providing an up-and-coming Virtual Assistant (VA) with some startup information, she asked me a very interesting question, "Why do you and other VA’s join organizations?"
I guess I take for granted the reasons why I belong to several VA organizations. But, to those that are new to any industry, joining an organization made up of your competitors is a valid concern.
Some organizations have members that are from a variety of walks of life (i.e. small business organizations, etc.) while others are more specified and include only members from a specific industry (i.e. VA organizations).
I cannot speak for those in other industries but, for myself and some others I know and associate with in the VA industry, there are several reasons why we join organizations specific to our knowledge. Actually, most of these reasons are probably similar for other organizations and their participants and why they join.
So, why do I join industry specific organizations? Several reasons:
Networking. This is one of the main reasons for joining any organization and is actually part in parcel with all the other reasons I will list here.
Networking with anyone and everyone is essential to the growth of any business, including a Virtual Assistance Business.
This industry is still fairly young and by networking with your peers, we can all work together to increase the exposure of this industry, thus increasing the visibility of each individual’s business.
The opportunity to work with fellow VAs. With the increased exposure and acceptance of the VA industry, many veteran VA’s are finding their workloads are getting to a point where they are having to outsource some of their work themselves. If they don’t know about you they won’t even have the chance to consider sending you some of their overflow.
Not to mention, most VAs specialize in certain procedures and, should a task come up for a client that is not one of their specialties, they may need to subcontract the project.
Learning from your fellow members. No matter if you are an experienced VA or new to the industry, there is always something to learn from others.
Veteran VAs have been there and done that so they have the voice of experience to offer. Those new to the industry can sometimes be an excellent source of new & fresh ideas.
You have the chance to get involved in new ventures. Many veteran VAs collaborate to initiate new ventures and projects to help enhance the industry. Usually, during the start up phase of these new ventures, it is common to work with those that you know and respect and have them involved in the process. By being a member of an organization and staying involved, you become visible to your fellow VAs and thus may be requested to become involved in the newest industry-boosting project.
And finally, one of the perks of joining an organization is the joy of making new friends.
When working from home, which is where most VAs operate their businesses, isolation can become an issue. Being a member of a VA organization results in making friends with fellow VAs, reducing the isolation aspect. These friendships can also result in a mentor type relationship where the two (or more) of you share ideas that will help to boost each other’s businesses and even you personal lives. (Such is the case of myself and my best friend Kathy Ritchie of Ritchie Secretarial Service - www.thebestva.com)
To sum it all up, being a member of an industry specific organization has many benefits and shouldn’t be viewed as associating with the enemy. Try to think of your relationship with your fellow industry members as ‘coopetition’ rather than ‘competition’. By working together we can build the industry as a whole, our own individual businesses and even our personal lives.