Horkey HandBook Blog

Answering the Dreaded Question: So, What Do You Do?

Picture this: You walk into a local networking event after months of working up the courage to go in the first place.

It’s a big, crowded room and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. Everyone that is, except you. You don’t enjoy networking. Not in the slightest.

But you know that putting yourself out there is how stuff gets done. So you pulled up your big girl pants and went anyway.

You’re standing alone, trying to convince yourself that you fit in. That maybe this might even end up being fun.

But you’re secretly hoping no one talks to you. Because, when someone asks, “So, what do you do?” you’re not really sure how to answer.

“Hi, I’m Gina – a VA.” Cue other person looking at you very strangely…

“What in the heck is a VA?”

Your conversation-mate might not ask it quite that way, but they’re more than likely thinking it.

And in the states if you say “VA,” people automatically think you’re talking about the Veteran’s Administration. Not about being a virtual assistant.

Two, pretty separate things, don’t you think?

While I think that people are starting to catch on to this whole online business thing, I don’t think the term “VA” or even “virtual assistant” has a ton of meaning to your average Joe yet.

And if they are familiar with the term “virtual assistant,” they might be conjuring the stereotype of:

  • A business-lady with a headset.
  • Or a number cruncher.
  • Or someone overseas that charges $3 per hour.

But that’s not you.

Nope, you may (or may not) be female, but you’re definitely not dressed in a business suit. No, you’re more likely to be wearing yoga pants (don’t lie, I totally am as I’m typing this).

And you probably avoid the phone like the plague. Well, maybe you like to talk on it a bit, but you definitely don’t want to spend the majority of your day fielding calls as a virtual receptionist.

And you definitely charge more than $3 an hour.

So what is a virtual assistant then?

Well, when I answer this question, I like to explain that a virtual assistant – or VA – is someone that helps to maintain or grow your business from afar.

Virtual = working from afar.

Assistant = helping you conduct some aspect of your business.

See, it’s really not that complicated…

A VA could totally be your (virtual):

  • Bookkeeper
  • Blog Manager
  • Social Media Manager*
  • Graphic Artist
  • Freelance Writer
  • Editor
  • PR Specialist

*Our Pinterest VA course is launching again soon – get on the waitlist here!

There are literally hundreds of services a VA can provide. Which is another reason you can’t reply, “I’m a VA.” to that question…

Have your explanation ready!

I mean you can, you just want to be prepared to spell all of that out for someone. The upside being that they’ll probably be intrigued and ask you a bunch more questions out of genuine interest.

“You mean that’s a thing?!?” They might reply.

Yep, totally a thing. Thousands of people around the world are taking their career futures into their own hands each and every day by providing services as a virtual assistant.

And getting paid well for it.

“Having an explanation,” is the same thing as “having an elevator speech” by the way. I just have never been able to stomach the term “elevator speech.” It just seems sleazy or salesy to me.

And effective networking is more about relationship building, then it is about “selling yourself.”

Are there times you need to “sell yourself?” You betcha there are. But they’re less often than you think.

The rest boils down to effective communication and being interested in people. Not just pretending to be.

What should your explanation be?

Well, it’s dependent on who you are and what you do.

I mean, that’s basically all that it is. “Hi, I’m Gina and I help busy tech entrepreneurs stay on top of their email.”

See how much different that is from, “I’m Gina, a virtual assistant and I focus on email management.”

Either could work. But the first one is more specific AND relateable.

And being both will help you stand out from the crowd at the event AND be remembered afterwards.

Not everyone is your target market… and that’s OKAY!

Do you know why people hate in-person networking?

It’s because (most of us) are uncomfortable with that whole “selling ourselves” or “explanation” thingy we’ve been talking about. What’s funny though, is that when (most of us) get rolling on a topic we’re truly passionate about, you can’t shut us up.

But when we’re in a room full of strangers and could really use a new client… eek!

My best tip for situations like this is to take the pressure off of yourself. Do NOT go to that networking event expecting to find your next client.

Nope, instead go expecting to meet some other really (or moderately) cool people.

That’s it. Lower the expectation from, “I need to find a new client or this event is a waste of my time!” to “I’m walking in here with an open mind and am happy just to have the opportunity to connect with others and see how I can help.”

The second also takes that whole attitude of service thing… Look to BE a blessing, rather than be blessed. It’s kinda fun, you should try it!

So back to not everyone is your target market… it’s totally true! Most of the people sitting in that exact room at that exact time aren’t going to be your ideal clients. They might not even make the “crappy potential client” bucket.

And again, that’s totally okay.

Why? Because while they might not be an excellent candidate or fit for you, they may know someone that is.

And that’s the TRUE power of networking.

Knowing someone that knows someone that knows someone. And being remembered when that opportunity arises.

A little bit different than you thought, right?

It’s different than I used to think of how networking worked. But then I learned to play the long game. And not expect to find my next client at an event like that.

And it makes attending them SO MUCH MORE FUN!

Because again, you can focus on:

  1. Being truly interested in learning about someone else.
  2. Being a blessing to them, rather than looking for something from them.

And while it’s not the FASTEST way to filling up your client roster, it’s the more enjoyable option short-term and the most effective long-term. No shortcuts. Again, it goes back to relationship building.

Your turn!

Since I genuinely want to get to know you and believe you can network online as well as in person, tell us in the comments who you are and what you do!

Gina Horkey

Gina Horkey

FOUNDER & CO-OWNER

Gina Horkey is a married, millennial mama from Minnesota. Additionally, she’s the founder of Horkey HandBook and loves helping others find or become a kickass virtual assistant. Gina’s background includes making a living as a professional writer, an online business marketing consultant and a decade of experience in the financial services industry.

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