Holler to Entrepreneurs – Hey you, you need a VA!

This blog post is a result of the last one. My aimless rambling about the things a VA can and can not do got me thinking. So here I am with a post more for the clients than the VAs but hey, don’t stop reading – you may just pick something from this.

As busy entrepreneurs I am sure there are several times in a day when you wish you could concentrate on the actual tasks that could make your business successful – tasks only you can do – and get someone else to do the mundane, routine things that someone with a bit of training, a lot of intelligence and great work ethics could take care of. What you need my friend is a virtual assistant.

Here are a few tips to getting you, the client, understand what a virtual assistant can do and make the most of your VA:

1. Communicate: I have talked about this a lot but it remains the most important thing in a client-virtual assistant relationship. Be as specific as possible about a task, don’t leave out any details. Remember, your VA does not have the benefit of asking questions right away. To save time and to avoid any misunderstandings try and foresee any questions the VA might have, or any problems she may run into. A client once asked me to help her move data from one website to another. I had never done that before so instead of just Skyping or emailing me the details she took out some time and made a video tutorial recording the process step by step. This became a habit – every time I asked her how something was done she’d make a video of it and send it to me. At the end of the year we had a neat library of tutorials. Now when a new employee comes on board I am in charge of training and all I have to do is send her the relevant video. 😉

2. The Odd-Task Person: Yeah, a VA is not like your typical snooty executive assistant. You can throw anything at her that can be done virtually/digitally. Make dinner reservations, book a plane ticket, call your child’s school reporting she has a flu and can’t attend that day, do data entry for you, research leads on Yellow Pages – she can do it all.

3. Emails: This is the one task I get asked to do over and over again. Imagine waking up in the morning to neatly labeled emails (friends, business, urgent, newsletters) with absolutely no spam or annoying twitter DMs. You can create templates for replying to certain kinds of emails and she can send them out without the receiver realizing it didn’t come directly from you. 😉

4. Appointments: Share your Gmail/Outlook calendar with your VA and she will make sure you never have to deal with leads until you have to. She will look up free spots in your calendar and make appointments for you. I always tweak the settings so the client receives a reminder 15 minutes before the appointment ensuring she doesn’t miss it.

5. Social Media: Let’s face it – managing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora all at the same time can get a little intimidating and become quite a nuisance really. But these are platforms we can’t do without. Here is what I suggest. Sit down with your VA, make a list of about 30-50 status messages, and then have her put them up time to time. She can also find you new people to follow on Twitter, have them convert into Facebook Page Fans, filter out and find the ones worth reaching out to via LinkedIn, and also build a following on Quora.

6. Website/Blog: If you are a business worth anything you have already got a blog or a website. A virtual assistant can help you manage your website, add posts for you, keep the content up-to-date, keep the comments spam-free, reply to comments on your behalf, troubleshoot with IT in case something goes wrong with the website, pull relevant data from the backend etc.

7. Give them an Honest Chance: It’s very important that you give your VA a fair chance to prove her worth. Every new person entering a work place needs some time to get accustomed to the needs of the boss, understand how she needs certain things done, and even to learn something on the job. A VA is no different – except perhaps in that it is harder for her to adjust because she doesn’t have the benefit of seeing you and learning from your gestures and tone. Have a Skype video conference with her once a week, get to know her and give her a chance to know you as a real person and not someone that emails her and sends her a check at the end of the month, encourage her to talk about any problems she may have run into in the past week or any confusions she may have regarding a certain task and brainstorm ways you can help her do her job better.

P.S. Just found out you can use PAINT to erase parts of a pic and add text of your own choice – hence MARIA … couldn’t resist. 😀 😀

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