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As well as a full day hard at work yesterday, I’d scheduled in a networking event last night as well: the Hobbs shopping experience with Forward Ladies in York. For virtual PAs it’s really important to get out to networking events – I’m a big proponent of this. You’re working alone most of the time so you need to get out for the sake of your own sanity. It’s vital that you keep your name and face out there and become as well-known as possible. All of Kaleidoscope Virtual Assistant Services’ clients found out about me through people I met while networking.
I did not fancy going out and I was in serious danger of succumbing to the post-holiday blues. Fortunately, I have three little tricks to help me get up and running when I’m feeling that way.
First I tried to brighten myself up with bright clothes – namely a red pair of shoes and a red cardigan. It really does make you feel brighter and lighter. The temptation in that sort of situation is to dress how you feel and go along looking drab. Clothes are a great (and legal!) mood-enhancing tool that I really recommend.
Secondly, I tend to behave a little strangely in the car! I discovered this trick when driving to the office, feeling like I didn’t want to be there at all. I just smile. You really have to decide to wear a smile, in the same way as you choose your accessories. It never fails – it’s been found to work psychologically. By smiling, you almost trick your brain into thinking you’re happy – then you feel happy! Yes, those annoying people who tell you to ‘smile, it might never happen!’ are actually telling the truth.
Finally, I use a bit of discipline on myself. Two and a half years ago, when I first launched Kaleidoscope Virtual Assistant Services, I promised myself that if I booked to go to an event, I would always go, unless it was a matter of life and death. I’ve kept to that faithfully – it helps that I’m the sort of person who never used to leave parties early in case I missed something! You never know what interesting people you’ll meet, what friends you might make or what business opportunities you’ll find.
The event was great – Hobbs stylists came along to give us tips and ideas about the new trends for autumn, and there were some great demos showing how your underwear affects your look! People running small businesses especially have to spend time thinking about their image. Also, you need to put energy into making sure it's consistent. There’s no point turning up looking a million dollars once, then like Wurzel Gummidge a week later.
After all, you are your brand, maybe even more so than your logo, and you can be reflecting your brand values all the time in the way you look and the way you behave. So dress for the occassion and don’t forget your smile!
What other mood-lifters can you recommend to the self-employed?