LET THE CLIENT SET THE PACE OF THE PROJECT

I don’t know about you, but when I get involved in something, I go into it heart and soul. As a virtual assistant at Virtual Colleague, LLC, I do this with my clients, because I see them as colleagues, I want to share my ideas and creativity with them.

Business Card

While this is an admirable trait, clients have many things on their minds. They have deadlines for projects, budget constraints, employee issues, etc.  I may be involved in much of what goes on in the business, I’m not involved in everything.

Recently, I was really enthusiastic about a project my client was undertaking, but he seemed somewhat uncommitted. I tried to push things along, but he kept tabling our discussions on that topic. Finally, I realized that in this case, I must let the client set the pace. I have several great ideas for this upcoming project and I’m sure we will get to it soon, but apparently, my client feels that other issues must take priority and this particular project is on the back burner. Realizing that this is the case, I advised him that I will continue with our scheduled work and he will decide when we start the new project. I could hear the smile in his voice. He told me he has so much on his plate right now that he needs to handle his immediate priorities and worry about the other things later on.

 

Sometimes it’s difficult to work with someone, who doesn’t share your work ethic or your drive and enthusiasm, but as colleagues, working together to accomplish the goal is the most important thing.

In a later conversation, he told me that he appreciates my dedication and knows that I will be ready to work on that project when the time comes. I told myself that I would not think about it and just focus on the tasks at hand. I’m finding it hard not to think about it. I am a forward-thinking person, so I like to anticipate and research to make the projects easier to do, when the time comes.

I have to bear in mind that in this case, my client has to set the pace. Unless, the deadline is usually short, we should be able to work together and accomplish our project by the due date. Some of my clients are less time-conscious or last-minute people. In those cases, I micro-manage them by constant reminders consisting of emails and/or phone calls. I also gently remind them that I will have to charge more for my services, if we cannot meet the deadline due to lack of effort on their part. I rarely have to say this, but some of them think that you just wave a magic wand and the work gets done. It can be especially stressful, if I have to wait for others to turn in their information on the project.

My advice for virtual assistants – let your client set the pace unless the pace is unrealistic.

 

 

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WHY CHANGE CAN BE GOOD FOR YOU AND YOUR CLIENT

Tired of the same old routine? We call get tired of repetitive tasks or adhering to the same schedule day after day, week after week. Change can be good and it may even be necessary.

As a virtual assistant, I need to stay sharp and on top of new technology. Performing tasks the same way inhibits my creativity and gives me tunnel vision, meaning I can only perform this task in this way. This is a dangerous mindset!

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http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

You need to keep finding new and different ways to learn new things and use what you’ve learned. My clients are amazed that I always come up with at least 2 solutions to every problem and I am able to speak about those solutions in-depth. I’m not single-minded, but rather, I have the best interest of my clients at heart, so I stretch myself to learn new things and to “think” my way out of problems.

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http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

By making an effort to keep learning something new, I am prepared to step up and give my opinion on many things that may impact any decision. I also garner respect for my can-do attitude, research skills, and knowledge of other options. I become part of the solution not part of the problem.

Just a word of caution! Change for the sake of change is NOT good! We’ve all heard the expression, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” That may be true in some cases, but in the business world, knowledge is power and knowledge provides constant growth without making dangerous mistakes or miscalculations.

Also, true is the fact that some clients prefer their work completed in specific ways. An example of this is when a client insists that everyone uses google docs and Gmail instead of using their own preference. The client wants continuity and to streamline the work flow. While some colleagues may not want to do the project this way, the overall effect is a single method of communication.

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http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Change is most welcomed, when it improves efficiency, effectiveness, and provides better communication and cohesion for the project. Like the Refresh button on your computer, change can be beneficial to both clients and assistants, because it causes everyone to re-think the process and provides room to think and grow.

 Think about how you do certain things, whether it’s housework, your job, or something else in your person life.

How can you change your routine to make your life more enjoyable and still have time to do the things you enjoy most?

 

 

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DO YOU BELIEVE IN OMENS IN BUSINESS?

As a Christian, I believe that God directs my life and the things in it. I was asked the other day, if I believed in omens, especially in business. My answer is not a simple one. While I do believe that things happen to us for a reason, I also believe that we can shape our own destiny by doing certain things that lead us in a particular direction.

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Here’s an example. As a virtual assistant, I specialize in writing projects, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t or won’t do other general tasks. If my client needs other tasks completed, I feel it is my responsibility to service those needs. I may not enjoy doing those tasks as much as the writing projects, but it is part of the business relationship. My client and I signed a contract and we are now colleagues.

The definition of the word “omen” is “an event regarded as a portent of good or evil”. Some people look for signs in everything they do. I may post an email or advertise and get a good feeling about it, but it takes hard work and determination to success in business. I don’t believe depending on signs and wonders is a good foundation for decision-making.

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http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

On the other hand, you should never ignore your gut feeling about something. This happened to me about a month ago. I went out on a Saturday. I wanted to go to the lake and just relax and enjoy summer. While I was there, I got a feeling that something was not right. I didn’t know what it was and certainly nothing was wrong at the lake. It was a perfect day. When I came home, I found out why I had that sinking feeling.

Omens can be also be good ones. As in meeting someone and immediately bonding with them and then establishing a business relationship. Some people just call it good luck and don’t read too much into signs and feelings. It’s easier to deal with good omens as opposed to bad ones.

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http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

So to answer the question, I would say that I’m cautious about “omens”, because although it may be a sign of things to come, it is no substitute for common sense, good judgment, and dealing with the facts.

 

Do you believe in omens?

 

 

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REAPING THE FRUITS OF MY LABOR

At the beginning of this month, we celebrated Labor Day. While it’s not only a “day of rest” for most workers, it is a time to reflect on our jobs and career goals. Everyone enjoys a day off to pursue our other interests, but what about recognition of our accomplishments?

As a virtual assistant at Virtual Colleague, LLC,  I have the ability to perform a variety of tasks for my clients. From simple tasks to project management, I love the variety and learning this job brings to me. Every now and then, I sit back and review what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve had to learn. Working with clients puts me in the driver’s seat to get the projects completed, but…I have to know how to run the car. What I mean by that is that I need to know WHAT TO DO and HOW TO DO IT, but if I don’t, I also have to LEARN IT FAST!!

Every client is different and every client is unique, so finding a one-size-fits-all is not possible, if I want to truly service my clients’ needs. For example, I may perform only one specific task for a client, but perform 3 or 4 different ones for other clients.

So I excel at the things I’m good at, explore some other tasks that I’m vaguely familiar with, and then learn some totally new software programs. Taking time to periodically see where I am and where I’ve been is in fact REAPING THE FRUITS OF MY LABOR. I realize what I have accomplished and that gives me more to offer my present or future clients.

Every learning opportunity is a chance to increase my offerings. How many ice cream shops do you know that only offer 3 flavors? They usually offer at least 20 different flavors and some will mix them for you. This idea works the same way for virtual assistants. While you may want to specialize in certain areas of your expertise, you always need to keep the door open for business by learning new skills as they present themselves.

I recently met with a client that has suddenly acquired a new line of work in addition to what he already does. Due to my proven ability to get the job done on time and within his budget, he wants me to undertake this new venture with him. This is an area that neither of us have a great deal of expertise in, but my enthusiasm and can-do attitude will get me through it. It will require my full attention and excellent communication to make sure we are both in sync with the project.  I had continued to learn new software or new ways of doing tasks and when we (my client and I) start this new project, I will definitely REAP THE FRUITS OF MY LABOR!

Do you take time to review what you’ve accomplished or completed? Tell me about it in the comment section.

 

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Everyone Wants a Piece of the Action

Lately, I’ve been bombarded by administrative professionals, who want to work for me as a virtual assistant. While I’m flattered that they contacted me and offered their skills, I’m absolutely flabbergasted by the fact that they don’t understand the first thing about the virtual assistant business.

Some of them are downright demanding and don’t understand why I don’t want to share any of my work with them. They forward their resumes to me and I’m expected to just dole out my clients’ work to them.

Global Mouse Connections

It’s not that simple, so here are a few tips to help anyone land placement with a virtual assistant.

  • Take time to check out the virtual assistant you want to work with. Get to know the virtual assistant’s niche and determine how you can assist with your skills.
  • Take time to introduce yourself and focus on your personal skills as well as your professional ones. You need to convince the virtual assistant that you’re a perfect fit for her business.
  • Do your research! Find out what the virtual assistant business is all about: how you find clients, how to bill for services, what’s in a contract, etc. This will help you to bond with the virtual assistant and enhance your chances of getting work.
  • Be flexible! Answer any questions the virtual assistant may have and elaborate on anything she talks about. The more you have in common (personality, professionalism, knowledge of the business, etc.) the better your chances are to secure placement with her.

 

If the virtual assistant isn’t forthcoming with an offer:

  • Don’t ask her why she doesn’t have enough work for both of you.
  • Don’t discuss your salary requirements for future work. Every client and project is different.
  • Don’t imply that you have more or better skills than the virtual assistant has and that’s why you should work with her.

If the virtual assistant asks you, if you need a mentor, take the offer. The best way to break into the business is to connect with someone, who has gone through the process and can help you avoid the pitfalls. By connecting and getting to know you, the virtual assistant would be more willing to hand work over to you. Don’t forget, the virtual assistant has a professional relationship with her client and most virtual assistants are extremely reluctant to hand over any work to someone they know little about.

2 Virtual Assistants

Bottom line:

Times are tough! For most virtual assistants, their clients are their only means of financial support, so they need to nurture them and provide the best service, so they can retain their clients. Sometimes, a client may require skills that their virtual assistant doesn’t possess. That’s when the virtual assistant will reach out to the community. If you’ve positioned yourself with knowledge, skills, and connections, and understand how the virtual assistant business works, then some virtual work should come your way.

Approach any virtual assistant in the same way you would approach a potential employer.

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Make Your Client Feel Like They’re On Vacation

The other day my client was having one of those days, where nothing seems to go right. He called me several times to ask about this, that, and the other. Things he should have known, but because he was having a bad day, he just needed some extra help.  He’s usually easy to deal with and I was happy to put in the extra effort to help him through “the day from hell” as he called it. The next few days were normal and I was happy that things had settle down for him.

Bad Day Face in Hands Free

About a week later, he called me and told me that he was sorry for all the phone calls and “bad attitude” he had on that day. I reassured him that everyone has bad days and I was happy that his bad day only lasted 24 hours. He laughed and then got serious. He said that working with me was “like taking a vacation”. He went on to say that every time he gives me work, he knows it will be done correctly and on time. He also told me that he loves my “can do” attitude. Even if I don’t know about some of the new technology, I will research and get back to him about it. I give him my opinion, if I think it will help or hurt his business.

Man and Woman at the Pool Free

With the economy the way it is, he told me it was a relief to find someone, who was as concerned about his business as he was. The compliment he gave me was unexpected, but it made me realize that I was doing things right and that he would stay with me as long as he had work to do. Most executives I’ve worked for take administrative professionals for granted or they see them as subservient to them. This client valued me as an equal and took the time to tell me how pleased he was with the way I handled “his” bad day.

Money Free

I always try to give my clients more than they’ve contracted for. I feel that when you have a working relationship with someone, you need to re-enforce that bond. My contracts are very clear and the services I will perform are stated in detail, but if I have a chance to do a little more, I do it. If the client is professional and pays on time, I want to continue this business relationship. If the client turns out to be “not so good’, I will not renew with him, but I would like to part on good terms and I hope he would say that I did give him more than he expected.

I’ve done quite a lot of marketing for my business and most of the time, the business people I meet are more interested in telling me about their business than listening to what solutions I have to offer them, so it was refreshing to receive this compliment. Most businesses are experiencing a slowdown and this is the perfect time to practice good manners and get to know all customers. I now know what to expect, when this client has a bad day and he learned that a compliment goes a long way.

Free Compliment

 I’m going to test my marketing strategy and try to compliment whomever I talk to at my next networking meeting. I’ll see if it makes a difference.

 

 

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Create a Balance between Reading and Doing

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Since my e-book launch and the fact that it is summer and virtual assistant work is slow, I’ve tried to catch up on some of my reading. I don’t mean reading those summer novels.

I’m referring to informational reading from groups on LinkedIn, Google+, and other sites. I like to keep current in everything I do, so I tend to read up on things, so when they happen, I am prepared. My clients appreciate this as well. It lends credibility to my business, when I can contribute to my clients’ concerns about something new or something misunderstood.

Balancing Free

I had to develop a way to keep track of the “interesting news” and not just all the news. I created a Word document much like a book. I have a Table of Contents with the page numbers of each article I copied and pasted.

As I read through all of the articles on the web, I can copy and paste them into this word document. By glancing at the table of contents, I can easily navigate to the page I want to start reading. I used to save each article separately, but then I had too many articles and they weren’t always easy to find. I like the main documents approach and it’s a time saver.

Harvest Tracks Free

Sitting there reading through all of these articles can be hard on the eyes. I take frequent breaks and walk around a bit to relieve some of the stiffness in my joints. That helps, but I know I have so many to read through.

I decided to put myself on a schedule and put time aside each week and just sit there and read through them and save the ones I think I will need. I always say I will do this, but never actually do it. I get distracted and end up not doing it. This has to change.

Now that I’m an author, I really need to focus on tightening my work schedule to include not only what needs to be done, but to schedule time to take care of the overload or unexpected distractions that eat into my work time.

Lemonade Pitcher Free

It’s so tempting to go outside on a warm, sunny day and relax with a glass of lemonade. I love the outdoors, so it is particularly difficult to stay indoors and work. Client work is different, but having to sit inside just to clear out my inbox or organize my files, is a different story.

I’m testing a new schedule. I get up at 6 every morning, so I am working by 8 a.m. I work until 12 noon and then take a break for lunch. After lunch, I try to finish anything not completed before lunch unless it’s an ongoing project. I try to save my errands for the afternoon. I am a morning person and try to get my most difficult tasks finish by noontime. In the afternoon, I feel more like moving around, because I’ve been at my desk all morning, so that’s why I save my errands for the afternoon, if possible.

This is working out well. My biggest challenge is social media. Yes, you heard me, social media. I get so caught up with it that I waste time, especially Facebook. I need to work more efficiently on this, but I’m not a wiz at social media, so it takes me time to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. I have just started using Twitter for my e-book marketing and it’s a challenge to fit my message in in only 140 characters and let’s not talk about those hashtags. I still don’t have the knack of using them, but I’m learning.

Balance is the key to learning and doing and getting it all done.

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