I really love networking nights. I can’t say I always have. When I started my business I dreaded them but now I view them as a social outlet as much as a business event. I’m not a business person who can aggressively “tout their wares” at these functions. I’m happy with a polite conversation and an expression of common interests and if a business alliance forms from the conversation down the track, it is a bonus. Being a Virtual Assistant in a very solitary role it is important for my personal and professional development that I mix with other people.
Last week I attended a really great networking night. It was well organised and there were some fun activities and a great venue to explore, however it is the very first time I have not felt entirely welcome as a Virtual Assistant.
Mostly, when I tell people what I do, the feedback is positive. People are still curious about VA’s and what they do and generally the reaction from most people is one of polite interest. Very rarely have I encountered a vibe where a Virtual Assistant is not a popular addition to a networking event. Imagine my surprise at this event when my profession raised a few eyebrows.
Now I should explain this particular event was aimed at Executive Assistants and their managers. Most of the people in attendance were Executive Assistants with a smattering of corporate sponsors and companies employing large numbers of EA’s & PA’s.
Most of the Executive Assistant’s seemed to feel that as a Virtual assistant I didn’t really belong there and I should be at home in front of my computer. (Maybe for fear I might make their job redundant???. I’m not sure)
The corporate contingent seemed anxious I was going to steal their staff and convert them to the dark side (i.e. self employment).
It was a highly unusual situation for me and I am still puzzling over the “vibe” of the event. Surely I wasn’t the first Virtual Assistant to attend? What were the others like? Had these people had bad experiences with Virtual Assistants? I must emphasise here that I did not meet any overt statement of disapproval. It was just a vibe with an odd hint in a sentence here and there. I’m kicking myself I didn’t delve a little deeper into the reasons for it. I think I was more than a little surprised at the reactions.
The vibe didn’t stop me from enjoying the event. I actually bumped into some EA’s I knew and we caught up on old news and did some reminiscing. I might have to go under cover as a regular EA at the next event and uncover the reasons…..I’ll keep you posted.