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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Virtual Assistant Business

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.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Virtual Assistant Business

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Virtual Assistant Business

Independence to Thrive

Looking back on Independence Day (July 4th), I realize how fortunate I am to live in the USA, where I can do almost anything I want to do and improve my self-worth and career. I periodically look back on how I’m doing and how I can improve my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague LLC.

Virtual Colleague LLC 4

It’s not enough to just review my work and my mission statement and my marketing plan. While I spent July 4th with family and friends and yes, I did eat too much and stayed up late to view the fireworks, I realized what independence means.

Most people think it means doing what you want, when you want. That’s not entirely true. It means having the flexibility to achieve new goals, while working on the things that make you happy and bring you success.

Independence doesn’t mean staying in bed all day or doing nothing. It means getting out there and finding the right balance between your working life, personal life, and fitting in some new fun, activity or learning.

I truly enjoy working as a virtual assistant, but I also find time to write fiction. I recently published my first e-book “Everyone Evelon” – a story about faith, hope, love, and Divine intervention.  Writing this book was a lifelong dream and it also motivated me to do better in my virtual assistant business.

Everyone Evelon Cover

How? I had client deadlines to meet, so I found ways to work more efficiently, so I would have some spare time to write. I accomplished my 2 goals – working as a virtual assistant and becoming an author, while remaining calm and meeting all deadlines.

Independence is what our Founding Fathers wanted from England, because they didn’t want to be dictated to. They wanted individuals to be able to accomplish what they wanted to and not be saddled with other obligations.

I feel the same way. I’m able to service my clients and their needs, while living out my dream of becoming an author. The best of both worlds.

As I sat there on July 4th by the fire pot toasting my marshmallow, I realized how lucky I am to have this freedom, but I have to use it wisely. If I get caught up in doing only what I want and not considering others, it may lead to self-destruction.

Toasting Marshmallows

Balance is the key and while I don’t always feel like working for my clients or writing a manuscript, the discipline that brings has helped me to stay focus and achieve so much more than I expected. Balance keeps me mentally and physically healthy.

Balance

Independence gives me the right to pursue my dreams and goals. I can put as much of myself into my goals as I want and the end result is always a better me, a happier client, and a satisfied reader.

What are your dreams and goals?  How did you spend Independence Day?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Virtual Assistant Business

Take a Break: Get Some Inspiration

I’ve just spent a week in Maine – camping and I feel refreshed and ready to go. Before I left for vacation, I wanted to catch up on all my emails and correspondence. I made an effort to go through all of my emails and either place each email in a folder or delete it. I have 3 email addresses with difference internet providers. I wanted a clean slate for when I came back.

Campsite

It was a huge effort to get everything in order, but it was a great exercise. Why? Because while I was on vacation, my mind rested and I began to think of some of the things I read about. It seems like I read something and filed it away, and then, when my mind was clear and relaxed, I started to remember certain things I read about.

This is a good thing. I started to think about things in pieces and not try to link everything together. I was calm enough to re-think what I had read. I wanted to make notes on paper, but instead, I just filed my thoughts away until after vacation.

My best times for thinking are first thing in the morning or when I’m hiking. I thought I would be so busy watching where I was walking I wouldn’t be able to think of anything, but hiking is really my best way to re-connect with myself and my thoughts.

It’s a gentle exercise as old as man and yet, the rhythmic, flowing movement of arms and legs causes me to relax and focus my thoughts. Many times I sat at my computer holding my head in my hands trying to think something through and sometimes not succeeding. A gentle walk was all I needed.

Hiking

While I’m walking I think about my past – what I’ve accomplished in my business and personal life. Then I think about the things I want to do and start making a mental list of each thing. The good thing about walking is that I can plan and dream right up until I come to the end of the trail.

Going over things that I’ve read gives me a chance to digest those ideas and think of ways to use them in my business or my writings. I originally planned my vacation to get away from everything and just chill out, but my mind never stops working.

It was a very fruitful vacation after all. I got a chance to test my driving and camping skills, focus my eyes on all that nature has to offer, and take time to stop and enjoy my surroundings.  I also got away from the noise and hectic pace of life.

Lake Mountains Lake Mountains 2

Best of all, I got a chance to really think and analyze some of the ideas and issues that have been bothering me, but just didn’t have the time to do it. Now I just have to put them into practice.

What are your plans for your vacation this year?

 

2 Comments

Filed under Virtual Assistant Business

New Branch of My Virtual Assistant Business

Honestly, business has been a little slow lately and with summer coming on and those hot, humid days, I decided to create a new branch for my business. In addition to the services I now offer, I have decided to write a novel.

I know this is a stretch from what I normally do, but I’ve always had a penchant for writing. I continue to do resume packages, training manuals, product descriptions, etc, but I wanted to try something different to augment my income.

Virtual Colleague LLC 4

I actually wrote this story several years ago, when I worked as a temp. If you’ve ever worked as a temp, you know that you are not always included in certain activities and events and sometimes find yourself alone at lunch.

I grabbed a notebook and started getting creative. I wrote during my lunch hour for 4 months. Then I put the notebook away and went on to do other things. Back in December, I wanted to do something different with my business and thought about the notebook.

One snowy day, I took it out and re-read it. I needed to tweak the story a bit and correct some of the errors, but it was almost ready to go. Not trusting myself to find my own errors, I sent it to a copy editor. She suggested a few corrections and I made them.

I was then faced with the prospect of finding a literary agent or publisher. I sent out many query letters, but no one wanted to publish this great work of art?!, so I looked into e-publishing. I finally settled on Book Baby and on May 1st, my e-book, “Everyone Evelon” was published.

Everyone Evelon Cover

I am so excited to share this news with all of you. It is fiction. I spoke about God in it, so it is listed as Christian fiction with a subcategory of romance. It’s a realistic look at young people, young love, career aspirations, and life’s choices.

 

Download a copy of my e-book from these booksellers:

Amazon.com –   http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field- keywords=everyone%20evelon&sprefix=every%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aeveryone%20evelon

Barnes & Noble.comhttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/everyoen-evelon?store=allproducts&keyword=everyoen+evelon

Scribd.comhttp://www.scribd.com/search?query=everyone+evelon

Blio - https://www.blio.com/blio/actions/searchHandler.do?userType=MLB&tabID=BOOKS&itemNum=ITEM%3a1&key=0015008270&nextPage=booksDetails&parentNum=12848

E-sentral.com –   https://www.e-sentral.com/search/q/everyone+evelon

Kobohttp://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/everyone-evelon

TheCopia.comhttp://www.thecopia.com/catalog/details.html?catId=1605348

 

**After reading the story, please post a review on any of the above sites or on Goodreads. Thank you!

There is so much to do to promote a new book, I will be posting to this blog every 2 weeks instead of every week. To learn more about my e-book, go to my book blog at Write, Read, Delight, Indeed!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Virtual Assistant Business

Planting the Seeds of Growth

I started earlier this year to plant some seeds in pre-treated soil and containers. I don’t have much faith in this method, because for me it’s a hit-or-miss activity. I’m either very successful with many tiny plants or they die from cold or overwatering.

Garden

Even though my last name is Plante, that’s “plant” with an “e”, it doesn’t mean that I have a green thumb. I have to work just as hard as everyone else to ensure my plants will grow and give something back to me in the form of veggies, fruit, or flowers.

Running a virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, is just like gardening. Some of the seeds I sow will not bloom into clients or prospects, but some of the seeds will not. I have to treat all seeds the same and wait to see which ones will grow and prosper, so I can pay more attention to them.

Virtual Colleague LLC 4

One of the problems I have with seeds is that they don’t all grow at the same rate. Sometimes, it takes 3 months for seeds to start growing, where other seeds are starting to open in 2 – 3 weeks. Keeping an eye on the moisture in the soil and the amount of sunlight they receive is key to continued growth.

I do the same thing in my virtual assistant business. I nurture every potential client. Sometimes, I have to wait months for them to become interested or refer someone to me. Some clients start right away and see the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant versus hiring a permanent employee.

Business owners all have their own way of communicating. While some want to keep in constant contact with me, others are content to touch base once a month. I try to accommodate everyone’s tastes, while still maintaining contact. If they need someone or they know someone who needs someone, I WANT to be that someone they contact.

Communication

Just like planting the seeds, I never know if the seed will prosper, but I still give it my utmost attention. Most of my time is spent networking and trying to attract potential clients, not really doing the work. That’s the easy part. Sitting at my computer and assisting my client’s business to grow.

By the end of this month, I will know which seeds are growing strong and will produce results for me. I will also know how many potential plants I’ve lost. The key is to figure out why I lost them and how to change the way I care for them.

I do the same thing in my business. I try to do my best, but hard economic times contribute to some potential clients backing away from taking advantage of my services. Like growing plants, they don’t know if a virtual assistant is right for their business and they’re not willing to take the time to see if it will work.

In another month, the landscape in my yard will look completely different. Flowers will be in bloom, trees and shrubs will be full of leaves and buds, and I will be picking some vegetables from my garden.

Garden Flowers

I hope my virtual assistant business will be blooming as well. In any case, I will continue to put in the effort necessary to be proficient for my clients and my business.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Virtual Assistant Business

Memorial Day: A Time to Remember

Let’s take time out on Memorial Day to remember our friends, relatives, neighbors, ancestors and others who came before us and fought for freedom. I usually write about being a virtual assistant or about my business as a virtual assistant, but sometimes, we all need to stop thinking about ourselves and focus on the bigger picture.

Amer Flags

In this case, the bigger picture is taking time to reflect on all those people, who gave up so much for a better country and a better world. They fought for and died for a cause they truly believed in.

Sometimes, I spend many hours working on something for my business and yet, when I think about the commitment of these brave men and women, there is no comparison. They gave their all with no expectation of success or wealth. They fought, because they believed in what they stood for and they backed it up with action.

US Army

I attend the Memorial Day parade in my town every year. I am always struck by the dwindling number of spectators. Some spots along the parade route have no spectators at all. It is sad that many of us have forgotten about the sacrifices of others. Even if there is a family reunion or picnic on this day, everyone can take an hour or two to remember those who came before us and those who have taken up the cause to represent our country in the world today.

Every so often, we should stop thinking of ourselves and remember those who came before us. If we live in a free society today, we can thank those who fought and died for that freedom. I look forward to the parade and applaud, when the military pass by. It is a clear reminder that the true meaning of success is achieving a goal or dream. It is giving your all to a cause or belief and willing to suffer the consequences to achieve it.

Mem Day Graves

I am so proud of our military past and present and I will continue to support those who choose to follow in the footsteps of our freedom fighters. So this Memorial Day, if you get the chance to go to a parade – do so. It is very uplifting for the active and retired military to see the support from the people they are serving.

Leave a comment

Filed under Virtual Assistant Business