Tag Archives: VA

communication

I love to remind the business owners that I work with to take communication with their virtual assistants (VA) very seriously and to hold themselves accountable for providing their VA with on-going feedback throughout the year.

While this may seem obvious, be sure to always tell your VA what is expected of them.  It is a simple conversation that should always happen when asking them to do work for you.  It is also important to let them know it is ok to ask you questions when they may be confused, or unsure of any expectation or work task.   Just be sure to let your VA know if you prefer to have him or her email, text or call you with questions, so that it is less likely they will do job that doesn’t meet your expectations.

Regular feedback is such an important part of team development and seamless workflows. Try and schedule time to provide your VA with both constructive and positive feedback each week and your relationship with your VA will be exactly what you want it to be!

Working with a virtual assistant is a great option for a busy entrepreneur. Working with anyone – real or virtual – is a dynamic situation where adjustments need to be made as the working relationship evolves.

We have worked with hundreds of VA and clients, and find that the key to success with any working relationship is having good communication and setting realistic goals.

Today, interacting with your virtual assistant is done using various electronic technologies. Setting up a virtual workspace for communicating with your VA is essential.

These technologies should include the following:
Email – let your VA know if you will be setting them up with a specific email address for your business, or if they will use their own email address to communicate with you. Determine a response time that is acceptable to you and your VA.
Live Chat– Skype or Facetime once a week or once a month if that will help you stay connected.
Document Sharing –Dropbox, Basecamp, and Trello are some options where you can share work and give instructions that can be accessed remotely.

Your VA’s output is greatly dependent on your initial orientation, and the systems that you have already set up, along with some training provided by you.

As your working relationship develops with your VA, you may need to be tolerant and allow for a learning curve. If you remember to communicate, give appropriate feedback, and provide the tools and the training necessary for the job, your VA should become a great asset to your team.

The idea of working with someone that is not physically by your side can be challenging. Just like any business, you must have a structured business plan that keeps your daily operations running smoothly. When hiring a virtual assistant, the same thought process applies.

Here are some important factor to consider when you are interviewing potential virtual assistants (VA) to work with.

Hourly Expectations: Your business may have specific hours of operation, so it is important that the VA you work with is available when you need them to be. If time-zone compatibility is important to you, then be sure to communicate that when you are looking for someone. Don’t bother interviewing a VA on the East Coast if you really need them to work during West Coast hours.

Response Notifications:  If you are the type of business owner that wants immediate email response to your requests, or will require fast turn around times on the work being assigned to your VA, then make sure the VA you work with is fully aware and agreeable to those expectations. A virtual assistant who will only commit to giving you a 24-48 hour response time may not be the right fit for your personality, and would probably not be the right VA choice for you to work with. Be sure to be direct and honest about what kind of response time you will require, so that expectations are clear at the beginning of your working relationship. This will help avoid confusion or frustration for both you and your VA as you start working together.

Knowledge Expectations: When selecting your virtual assistant, be clear about  what programs and software you need your VA to use. Let them know if you are an expert on these programs or if you are looking to the VA to take the lead on working with them.

By having a structured plan in place, you can eliminate the problem of hiring the wrong virtual assistants. Being very clear about your expectations and what you need your VA to do, is very important when forming a trusted and successful virtual business relationship.

Virtual assistants (VAs) continue to be in-demand and the role of a VA is varied depending on a business owner’s business needs and budget.

Below are 3 in-demand services a virtual assistant can help you with that you may not have considered .

Blog Services has been a popular VA niche for the past few years. We do not see a decline occurring soon. Not only are more businesses coming online and looking at blogs for marketing their products or services, but blog posts come up in Google search results and can help you attract new customers, just by having a blog.

Blog services can include:

  • WordPress installation and set-up
  • Blog marketing
  • Writing and scheduling content
  • Guest posting services (content creation, submission, engagement with readers)
  • Commenting services

Social Media Marketing is another in-demand service that VA’s offer. Social networking continues to grow, and new social platforms are introduced every year. It is no longer just about Twitter and Facebook. You also have to worry about updating LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram..

Social Media Marketing services can include:

  • Business page or profile set-up
  • Updates and engagement
  • Creating private groups
  • Researching content
  • Video marketing
  • Forum marketing
  • Local social engagement (Yelp, Foursquare, Meetup)

Author/Publishing Services are also quite popular. More and more authors are turning to self-publishing, which puts many of the details that would otherwise be handled by a publishing company in the hands of the author.

Author/publishing services may include:

  • Landing page or website setup
  • Social Media set-up, updates and engagement for book launch
  • Editing, formatting and submission of e- Book versions to online selling platforms such as Amazon, e-Bay or other appropriate websites
  • Assisting with virtual book tours
  • Preparing marketing materials

The possibilities are endless when it comes to the services a Virtual Assistant can offer to a business owner.  To see even more services offered, click here.

 

 

A=Allocate
Allocate time to enjoy your summer.  What does that mean exactly?  It means all work and no play will make you a dull “boy” or “girl”.  Plus, everyone needs to recharge their batteries and summer is a great time to do that.  If you are thinking, “sounds great, but how could I do that, when my weekly business calendar is full?”  Start by scheduling down time on your calendar.  Just like you schedule meetings with clients, schedule time in your calendar just for YOU!  If the thought of that scares you, try and start off slowly with just an hour per week, and then move up to a couple hours per week until you can see the benefits.  What you do with that hour is up to you, but extra time in the gym, reading a book, watching a movie, or just relaxing away from the computer can be extremely beneficial to helping you recharge your spirit and your stamina, which in turn will benefit your business.
B = Basics
Getting back to basics this summer can also help your business.  Try and remember why you started your business in the first place, and how excited you were to get it off the ground.  Are your emotions today the same as they were when you made the big decision to move forward with starting your own business?  If not, try and figure out what about it is different.  Are you overwhelmed? Are you unable to do the things you need to do to make it exciting? Are you too busy with the minutia involved with running your business that every day seems like a blur?  Basic human nature is to try and do everything ourselves, but consider enlisting some help where it makes sense.  Try and think about what you can take off your plate,  and what you can realistically delegate. The goal is to get you back to that place where your excitement level outweighs the stress of running your own business.
C = Commitment
Sometimes making a commitment to yourself is harder than making one to someone else.  Isn’t summer a great time to commit to making a few changes in your life?  With longer days and more sunshine it is easy to put in longer work hours, but why not commit to using those few extra hours to reconnect with family and friends this summer.  Having positive relationships in your life will help you be more positive and energized.  It is easy to sabotage yourself if you start to feel guilty when you choose to miss out on things like family parties, dinner with friends, youth sporting events, or even grilling with the neighbors.  Commit to participating in a few if not all the summer activities you can with family and friends.  You will see that making a conscience effort to enjoy the people around you can be the best use of your time in the long run.

If you need help trying to figure out what you can delegate or who you can work with to give you a few extra hours in your day, we have a team of amazing placement specialist that would be happy to assist you. https://assistantmatch.com.

Working with a virtual team is how our company operates. The Assistant Match team consists of amazing people who work in different states throughout the country in a seamless unified fashion. We pride ourselves on the fact that distance and time zones do not inhibit our ability to provide excellent customer service to our clients, smooth communications with our virtual assistants and a team of core professionals who are compassionate and respect each other. This is the structure for our business, but will it work for you?

There are 3 things to keep in mind when you are structuring your virtual team.
1. Will you be the leader of the virtual team?  
This seems like an obvious answer, but we work with clients who prefer to hire a virtual team leader, someone in charge of all the other VA’s. The virtual team leader will be the only one who gets direction directly from you and then they will delegate the tasks and the workload to the appropriate VAs. This structure works well for the business owner who prefers one point of contact and wants to be less hands on.
2. How many VA’s do you need on your team?
This decision will require a thoughtful approach that makes both business sense and financial sense. We work with business owners who prefer to work with one VA that has multiple skills sets, while others like to work with multiple VA’s that offer specialized services. You can have a VA  who’s only job is to handle your finances, another VA can provide all your marketing efforts, you can have a VA managing a calendar and email inbox, and another concentrating on your administrative tasks. There is no right or wrong way to build a virtual team, it really comes down to what works for you and your budget.
3. How do you know if your team is structured correctly?
Usually a team is structured correctly when the workflow process is being handled to your expectations, deadlines are being met, and both you and the VA’s are happy. Communication with your team is so important to ensure they know when their work is due and what to do if they can’t meet the due dates. And don’t forget to thank your team when they do a good job, and don’t be afraid to provide constructive feedback when/if there is ever a bump in the road. Being proactive instead of reactive is what you want to strive for.

The world of outsourcing work to a virtual assistant is a very broad landscape.  There are so many options for a small business owner, and knowing what is right for you may be confusing.

Are you looking for a long-term relationship with a virtual assistant who you can outsource work to on a consistent basis?  Or, do you need a concierge-type virtual assistant to do small one-time projects like ordering lunch for a meeting, making dinner reservations or sending out thank you cards?

Does time-zone availability matter to you? Will you be outsourcing any writing or correspondence for your business? Is it important to have your virtual assistant understand grammar, and punctuation?

Once you determine what makes sense for you and your business, then you will need to figure out how much time you want to invest in finding, interviewing and working with your new virtual assistant. This is also a good time to consider if having your work sent overseas will cause any potential problems for you or your business.

A full service virtual assistant company, like Assistant Match, will do the following for you:
•    help you assess your outsourcing needs
•    write the job description that will be used to screen candidates
•    pre-screen US-based virtual assistant candidates
•    present you with the top 3 candidates

Many other virtual assistant companies will require you to do all of that, which is a huge time commitment and often something outside your area of expertise.

When clients have come to us in the past after going through some of the low cost VA companies, the main complaints they share with us are;
•    having to write their own job description
•    having to screen too many responses
•    not knowing how to work successfully with someone virtually
•    miscommunication between them and an overseas VA
•    no real business relationship

A full service virtual assistant company will provide you with more than just a virtual assistant.  Assistant Match offers a team of professional US-based placement specialists who provide an on-going relationship with both our clients and our team of US-based virtual assistants. This ensures the working relationship is as successful as possible.  But, in the event the VA/Client relationship doesn’t work out, than we find someone new and transition that person in as smooth as possible. The low cost VA companies do not help with that, which then puts the business owner back at square one and contacting us for help after lots of frustration and lost time.

We know that a small business owner puts their heart and soul into creating their company, building a professional reputation, and attracting clients.  Your business is generally a reflection of who you are and what you value. Professionalism, quality, and dedication is how a you want your business to be perceived by clients, investors, and the general public.  So risking your hard earned reputation is not worth saving a few bucks, is it?

Don’t get SPOOKED by the holiday rush this year! Halloween is creeping up on us and then the countdown clock begins. Plan on being proactive and get some virtual help to delegate tasks to.  Wouldn’t it be a nice treat to really enjoy the holidays, instead of being rushed and stressed out about them?

Here are 5 ways to utilize a virtual assistant right now:

  1. Get current with your book-keeping. End the year with your accounting in order. Make it a goal to enter the tax season organized and confident.
  2. Prepare you holiday cards.  A virtual assistant can order custom cards, setup client address lists, print labels or even set-up e-cards to be sent on your behalf.
  3. Do an end of the year marketing/sales push.  Give your ideas to a marketing virtual assistant and let them create an email marketing campaign, setup 1ShoppingCart, prepare creative graphics, etc…
  4. Attend Holiday networking events.  This is a great time of year to mingle and spread good cheer while reminding people who you are and what you can do for them   Have your virtual assistant research local networking events and put them on your calendar.
  5. Prepare a sale if your product/services are especially useful at the end of the year.  A virtual assistant can promote your products or sale through your social media accounts, prepare marketing materials and help you write and send out email blasts.

Be sure to plan early for some holiday help, because it will be here in a blink of an eye.

 

No matter who you are, there are only 24 hours in a day to get things accomplished.  For a small business owner, most of those hours are spent working to keep their business running, growing, and staying competitive.  It is not an easy thing to do, and a smart business owner will usually realize that they can not (and should not) try to do everything  by themselves.

When the time comes to find help and delegate some of the daily job duties to an assistant, the first thing a business owner should consider iswhat are my expectations and are they realistic”.
Here are 4 things to consider about job duty expectations when delegating work to a new  virtual assistant.

  1. It is important that you have an idea of how long it would take you to do the same task, so you can have a reasonable expectation for the VA.
  2. If the delegated task would take you an hour to do, you should expect it to take longer for a VA to do the same task (until they understand your business and processes).
  3. An unreasonable expectation on a new VA will frustrate them (and you) and cause the initial relationship to go south even before it has a chance to develop.
  4. With some patience, time and reasonable expectations a virtual assistant can become a great asset to you and your company.

The world of marketing has changed drastically over the past decade, but one thing is certain, getting your message or offer in front of your customer, potential customer, or past customer is still the basis of a strong marketing campaign. But what is the best platform to do that on? There are many choices, but the email inbox is still a very personal way to communicate with them.

Email marketing is generally subscription based, meaning the recipient has given you or your company permission to email them. This list needs to be treated like gold, because what is given can be taken away, meaning there is usually an UNSUBSCRIBE option on all the emails sent to your list. Unsubscribe is often clicked on when you are sending out too many emails that are not providing value or relevant information to your subscriber list. Can you hit a “home-run” every time you send an email out? Not likely, but if you are strategic in your email marketing campaigns an provide useful information or exclusive offers your emails subscribers should grow and not shrink.

When you offer an opt-in box on your website for a visitor to be added to your email list, you need to have a welcome email setup in an auto-responder through your emailing marketing or e-commerce service. Some popular services are Constant Contact, MailChimp, Aweber, 1ShoppingCart, Infusionsoft and Shopify. Marketers have a huge opportunity with welcome emails. According to Skyline Technologies, welcome emails have an average open rate of 50-60%. With a high open rate you can see the importance of the welcome email to new subscribers.

According to Hubspot, a typical welcome email content should include:
• A link to confirm the subscriber did indeed subscribe to the email list
• A message of thanks for subscribing to the email list
• A request to mark you as a safe sender, or save you to their address book
• Some information about what content future emails will contain
• Your privacy policy to ensure their information will be used properly

The welcome email is also a great time to introduce your subscribers to your blog, with a direct link and description, ask them to join you on social media, again with easy links to your accounts, and give them the opportunity to contact you directly about your product or services.

After the initial welcome letter, be sure to have your email marketing plan in place so that your subscribers continue to receive your emails on a regular schedule. Managing your email marketing can be a lot of work, but you can’t ignore a list of people who have asked to receive updates from you. If you can’t handle it yourself, find someone who can help you with managing it. Don’t let your subscriber pot of gold turn into dust!