Virtual Assistance 101: How to Choose the Best Virtual Assistant for You

Admin AssistantIn the final installment of this series, I want to discuss some things you may want to think about when choosing a Virtual Assistant (or an Administrative Support Consultant).

The most important factor in choosing a Virtual Assistant is fit. I say this because the VA/client dynamic is based on a long-term, collaborative relationship. You need to be comfortable with the Virtual Assistant and confident that she is the perfect partner for your success.

You may find the most amazingly skilled and experienced Administrative Consultant, but if you aren’t comfortable with your VA, or don’t get along, or you both don’t click, the relationship won’t work. AND, you won’t grow your business as you would like.

That doesn’t mean that an Administrative Support Consultant’s skill set isn’t important. Of course it is. You will most likely have a skill set in mind that you would like your potential Administrative Consultant to possess – or at least be willing to learn. There may be certain programs or applications you will want your potential Administrative Consultant to know how to use. You will want to know the background and experience of your future Consultant. You may want your future VA to be in the time zone as you – or you may not care. And you certainly should want your Administrative Consultant to be familiar with your niche.

On the flip side, There are also things about you that a potential Administrative Consultant (or VA) will want to know. What type of business do you own? How long have you been in business? Where do you want your business to go? What are the biggest challenges facing your business right now? What are your expectations regarding our potential partnership?

These, and other questions, will (and should) come out during the interview process. You will quickly find that most Administrative Consultants have a process in place that helps them and potential clients decide if partnering together would be desirable and mutually beneficial. Yes, you are busy; but, it is very important to take your time through the interview process.  Believe me, when you have found the perfect partner for your success, the time will have been well spent! (You can see my consultation process here.)

So, where do  you go to find an Administrative Support Consultant or VA?

A good place to start would be to get a recommendation from a few people you know who partner with a VA. Ask for referrals on Facebook or Twitter.

Another place would be Virtual Assistant directories. There are a lot of them out there, but to find the best VAs I recommend the Assistu Registry and the Administrative Consultant Association.

Or, you can do an online search for “Virtual Assistants” or “Administrative Support Consultants” or Administrative Consultants in New Hampshire” or the like.

However you find your potential administrative professional, I suggest you take some time reading through their websites, sign up for a few newsletters and/or start interacting with them on social media sites. After you have an idea of the ones you may be interested in partnering with, set up an appointment to talk with them. Go through their consultation process. You’ll know soon enough if you’ve found the right Administrative Consultant for you!

Remember, the purpose of the consultation process is to serve YOU, the potential client and the VA. I know from experience that going through the interview process helps the partnership start out much stronger and better enables the client and VA to create something wonderful together. So, no matter how overwhelmed you may be, don’t be afraid to take your time in finding the perfect for you and your business.

Over the last several weeks, we have discussed several aspects of Virtual Assistance. We learned what a Virtual Assistant is. What a Virtual Assistant is NOT. We talked about terminology.  We have discovered all the services a Virtual Assistant can offer. We talked about the benefits of working with a Virtual Assistant and how much a Virtual Assistant can cost. We even talked about how to become a Virtual Assistant. And, finally, in this post, we have learned how to find the perfect VA for you.

I hope you have found this series helpful. If you enjoyed this series or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me.

 

Virtual Assistance 101: Services a Virtual Assistant may Provide

Admin AssistantIn all truth, the services that a Virtual Assistant (Administrative Support Consultant) provides will depend largely on your particular needs and the skill set and knowledge of the administrative professional with whom you choose to work. That doesn’t mean that you have to partner with someone who doesn’t have all the skills you are looking for, as long as she is willing to learn and grow in her knowledge (which most are!).

At the same time, the services that can be rendered by an Administrative Support Consultant is only limited by your imagination! When you first start working with your Consultant, you will usually come up with an immediate plan of action; and then, as you grow in your partnership and relationship, more things will be discovered that she can take over for you.

Having said all this, I am going to you a general idea of some of the things that can be taken off your plate:

Writing services. Documentation creation and formatting; proofreading and editing; researching; and ghostwriting.

Travel arrangements. Booking airline tickets; car rental or limo services; hotel booking; and provide detailed itinerary summary.

Customer and vendor relations. Answer questions of customers and vendors; find sponsors and products for promotions and giveaways; create and maintain registrations for any classes you may have; deal with payments and problems.

Social Media Management. Promote events or products on Facebook pages, Twitter and other social media sites; maintain current profiles; automate status updates where appropriate.

Other services: Look for ways to promote client; reminders of important dates; keep a detailed schedule for client; order gifts; be a sounding board and resource.

Some Administrative Consultants also provide separate service offerings that have different listing prices depending on their special skill set such as: WordPress Assistance; Facebook Page creation and customizing; shopping cart assistance; email marketing; etc.

If you don’t already know the services you need or looking for, a quick read through different websites of Administrative Support Consultants and VAs will give you quite a list of of services! Or, if you have a particular need, but don’t see it on the website of an administrative professional you may want to work with, just ask. Most would be more than willing to either provide that particular service for you or direct you to someone who can. 🙂

Next week, I’m going to delve into something you may be already curious about: rates!

Have you missed any part of this series? Check them out here:

Introduction

What a Virtual Assistant Really Is

What a Virtual Assistant Is Not

What’s in a Name? (A little blurb about terminology)

How to Become a Virtual Assistant

Benefits of Working with a Virtual Assistant

(Post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.)

Virtual Assistance 101: How to Become a Virtual Assistant

Now that we’ve talked about what a Virtual Assistant is and what a Virtual Assistant is not, today we are going to talk about how to become a Virtual Assistant.

Like I mentioned before, a Virtual Assistant is a career choice, not some quick way to make a buck from home. It takes soft and hard skills, competency, hard work and consistency to build a successful business.

It also takes a change of mindset – especially for those who have been worn down by the corporate world. You need to act the part of the business owner that you are (or going to be). If you run your business as an employee, or allow your clients (and potential clients) to treat you as if you are an employee, you will not have the successful, fulfilling business you want.

You have the skill set and ready to build a business, so now what?

If you do a quick search around the ‘net, you’ll find a TON of advice, suggestions and programs – all designed to “help” you build your Virtual Assistant business. But the truth is, most of the advice you find online is crap and not worth your time or money. And worse, a lot of said advice is given by people who aren’t even Virtual Assistants themselves.

So, where do you go for help in building your business? I HIGHLY recommend you go to the same two women who taught me everything I know about Virtual Assistance: Anastacia Brice and Danielle Keister.

These two women are different in personality and style; and yet, both of these women have been absolutely invaluable in helping me build my business. They are my heroes and mentors. I respect them very much and am deeply grateful to both of them.

Anastacia Brice is the foundress of the Virtual Assistant industry and creator of AssistU, the premier organization for training new Virtual Assistants. I was blessed to have gone through the Assistu training program which gave me a solid foundation under my business. Graduates also have access to an amazing, ongoing supportive community for continued support in building your VA business. (Currently, Anastacia is in the process of revamping the virtual training program; but, she has put together a “Smart VA Starter Series” for those who don’t want to wait for the program to be finished.)

Danielle Keister is a veteran Administrative Consultant extraordinaire and creator of the Administrative Consultants Association. The Administrative Consultants Association is an online community and resource center for administrative experts. Danielle offers her expertise and knowledge to help others create successful and satisfying careers as an Administrative Consultant (a.k.a. Virtual Assistant – but more on the difference between a VA and ASC next week!). Her “straight-shooting advice” and value pricing business model has transformed my business!

In short, if you are looking to be a truly successful Virtual Assistant RUN, DON’T WALK, to Assistu and ACA!

(Confused about the switch from “Virtual Assistant” to “Administrative Consultant” in my post this week? Next week I’ll explain why I’ve stopped using the term “Virtual Assistant” and now use “Administrative Support Consultant” [thanks to Danielle Keister, who coined the term] instead.)

 

Virtual Assistance 101: What a Virtual Assistant is NOT

Okay, so last week we talked about what a Virtual Assistant IS. This week I want to talk about what a Virtual Assistant ISN’T. This is important because what a Virtual Assistant isn’t, plays a big part in the misconceptions surrounding Virtual Assistance.

A Virtual Assistant is not a telecommuter. A telecommuter is an employee who works several (or every day) days from home. A telecommuter generally reports to a supervisor and his or her work is overseen by said supervisor. A Virtual Assistant does work from home, but she reports to no one but herself

A Virtual Assistant is not an employee. A Virtual Assistant is a self-employed entrepreneur and business owner. She decides her own hours and business polices polices. She pays her own taxes and expenses. She alone determines what services she will or will not provide, when she will work and how much she will charge. She owns her own equipment and supplies. A Virtual Assistant is an equal partner in her clients’ success.

This is important. There are clients (or potential clients) who treat VAs like glorified employees. And, unfortunately, there are Virtual Assistants who allow themselves to be treated as a glorified employee. However, if the independent contractor and employee lines are blurred too much, both the VA and/or client can open up trouble for themselves with the IRS.

A Virtual Assistant is not a “single-service” provider. Remember the definition of Virtual Assistance? A Virtual Assistant offers across the board administrative services; therefore, a VA does not offer only one service exclusively. For example: A VA may offer proofreading services; however, if that is her only service, than she is a proofreader, not a VA. Or, a VA may offer graphic design services; however, if that is all she offers, than she is a graphic designer, not a VA.

That’s not to say that a Virtual Assistant doesn’t offer the above or other services as a companion to her Virtual Assistant practice. There are many VAs (like myself) who offer web design or copy writing or other services according to their expertise alongside their VA services. These side services have their own prices and policies that are different from the VA business.

One last thing: Sometimes on the ‘net I’ve come across a “top ten ways to work from home” article or blog post that includes Virtual Assistance as an option. That’s great and all, but often on these lists you’ll find Virtual Assistance lumped in with doing surveys or cold calling.

Virtual Assistance is NOT some easy way to make a quick buck from home. Virtual Assistance is a career choice made by smart, talented, experienced women.

Now that we’ve covered what a Virtual Assistant is and isn’t, we will move on to two different areas of Virtual Assistance: Becoming a Virtual Assistant and following that, (for those who don’t want to be a Virtual Assistant but rather need assistance) how to choose the right Virtual Assistant for you.

Virtual Assistance 101: Introduction

I usually keep my Virtual AsAdmin Assistantsistant business and personal “stuff” separate (for the most part); but, over the last few months I’ve seen quite a few “mom bloggers” talking about Virtual Assistance and How to become a Virtual Assistant. I know that many of them mean well; but, unfortunately, they have it all wrong. In fact, they are doing themselves and the Virtual Assistant industry a disservice with many of the things they say. That is why I feel compelled to break my own policy about not writing about my business here.

There are a lot of misconceptions about Virtual Assistants, working with Virtual Assistants and the Virtual Assistant industry as a whole – many of which are perpetuated by Virtual Assistants themselves (sadly). I know that writing a few blog posts won’t clear up these misconceptions overnight; BUT, I hope this series WILL help those of you stay-at-home moms reading this who may be considering a career as a Virtual Assistant.

Over the next few weeks I am going to do a series of posts about the Virtual Assistance industry: what a Virtual Assistant REALLY is, what to think about before opening a Virtual Assistant business, rates, benefits of working with a VA,  finding clients, and how to find the right VA for you.

If you have any questions during this series about working with a Virtual Assistant or becoming a Virtual Assistant, feel free to contact me at carol (at) simplecatholicliving (dot) com or use my contact page. Your can also check out my business website at http://www.carolda.com/ for more information about Virtual Assistance.