Tag Archives: Expertise

YOUR FRIEND COULD BE YOUR NEXT CLIENT

Sometimes the answer is staring you in the face. How many times has this happened to you? You try so hard to do something and yet it was so simple. Lately, I’ve been so busy attending networking events and trying to advertise my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, that I’ve overlooked an important part of the networking process.

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I recently met with a group of my former co-workers. We get together about twice a year to catch up with each other and find out what’s going on in our lives. A few of them are still working at the company, but most of us have gone on to do other things.

When we first meet, we all seem to speak at once, but then, things settle down and we eat and talk about ourselves with each of us taking a turn to speak. We choose a restaurant, so we don’t have to cook or bring anything, and we can concentrate on spending time listening to each other.

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Some people in this group think I am so courageous to break out and start my own business. I’m really not. It was created out of necessity, but I still like to hear the praise. As each of us took turns talking about family, friends, jobs, vacations, etc.,  I got lost in all of the new information presented, whether it was happy or sad news. We all try to be supportive of each other and offer suggestions to help with others’ problems or issues.

About three days after our get-together, I received an email from one of women in the group. She is happily married with one daughter and wants to work, but the employment situation is not great in Rhode Island. She always keeps physically fit and wants to work as a personal trainer.

At the restaurant, she told us she is trying to start a business as a personal trainer. She went into detail about all the training and certification she had to go through and why she wanted to do that type of work.  She also told everyone how difficult it is to start and run a business. I can certainly relate to that.

 

 

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It was a subtle clue that she needed my expertise and I totally missed it. I was so busy socializing that I missed the opportunity to speak to her about all the services I had to offer. It wasn’t until I received her email asking for my help that I realized I missed a great opportunity to get new business.

She even told me she would pay whatever my fee was in exchange for help in several areas. She stated she was overwhelmed. She needs help with basic things as well as developing an ongoing plan to promote her business. I emailed her a detailed plan of what we could do for the next six months along with my contract and fee. I thanked her for thinking of me and my business and offered her my first time client discount.

She responded immediately and we are now working as a team. I will be going to one of her classes and taking photos for her Facebook business page and her personal page as well as photos to use on her brochures and marketing materials.

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As I look back on this, I can’t believe I was so blind to a new opportunity. I realized that marketing and networking are much more than showing up at events. It’s listening to the people around you, putting yourself in their situation, and being able to speak up and offer your services in a way that will help them and you to succeed. It’s listening on a regular basis and not just at specific times or places. This was an embarrassing lesson to learn and I have changed my mindset about networking and marketing.

Have you ever missed an opportunity to market your business?

 

Check out my website at Virtual Colleague, LLC  to see how I can help your business grow.

 

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DOWNTIME BETWEEN CLIENTS

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I don’t know about any other virtual assistants, but in my business either I have several clients at once or a gap in clients. I try to systematically advertise, so this situation will not occur, but most of my clients only have projects for me to do at intervals, so I don’t have the luxury of setting up a schedule and keeping to it and having a constant cash flow.

This creates downtime for me and I’ve been struggling to find a way around this. Sometimes I feel stressed working for my clients, because I have so many deadlines and so much work to do. I thought about sharing the workload with another virtual assistant, but then, I need to keep the money for my own business.

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After reviewing my business plan for 2015, something I do every year, I realized that I was not utilizing my time efficiently and that is the cause for my stress. I’m trying a new tactic. When I’m not engaged with a client, I schedule to do the following:

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Archiving emails – going through ALL of my emails and only keeping the pertinent ones, archiving the others. I have three separate email accounts, so this is good time to go through all of them and save or delete them.

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Storing files and deleting any documents I won’t use – even though I use the cloud, I still have so many documents and sometimes they’re difficult to find, so backing up files and storing them in a secure location is a great help and it makes finding them much easier.

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Taking inventory of my supplies – I don’t print that much, but I do use some office supplies and there’s nothing worse than running out of something you need, when you’re in crunch time. Even if I use the supplies for my clients, I still need some marketing materials on hand at all times. Business cards, handouts, and giveaway items should be ready to take with me and use at an event.

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Staying up to date with my accounts – bookkeeping was never one of my best skills, but I’ve set up a spreadsheet for my business transactions this year and I keep track of every transaction. Whether it’s purchases, income, travel, education, or credit card payments and banking, I have each transaction on my spreadsheet, but I need keep them up to date. It also helps at tax time.

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Cleaning my work area – I mean physically cleaning all of my equipment including the office furniture, window, my keyboard, any peripherals, the walls and floor. I also clean my computer software by using disk defrag and disk cleaner and other cleaning software. I take care not to mix or spill chemicals on my computer or any parts of it.

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Taking online courses and webinars in areas of need – Without client deadlines looming, I have the opportunity to attend webinars listen to podcasts, and take a few simple online courses, so I can keep myself current and learn something new in case a future client needs that expertise.

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Reading about networking, technology, and social media trends – I’ve downloaded so many eBooks on topics I’m interested in, but never have the time to read them. During this downtime, I schedule time to read for a specific period of time. I catch up on my reading and can pursue any topic that interests me.

This is how I spend my time between clients. Oprah Winfrey once said, “You can have it all, but you can’t have it all at one time.” She is right, so I’m organizing my time to get the most out of my work and my personal growth.

 

To learn more about me and the services I offer, go to www.VirtualColleagueLLC.com.

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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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Ghost Writing: Who Is Really Writing?

One of the services I offer as a virtual assistant at Virtual Colleague, LLC is ghost writing. While it’s not at the top of my list, it is something that I offer to do for my clients.  It’s controversial and some consider it unethical.

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What is ghost writing? This is when someone hires a writer to write something for them: an article, blog post, advertisement, commercial, video script, book, eBook, etc. and doesn’t use the actual writer’s name. The client hires a ghost writer for 2 reasons: 1) the client has the technical expertise, but does not have the writing skills and 2) the client doesn’t have the time to do that particular task and feel that a writer could do it for them.

Ghost Typewriter

What does ghost writing involve? The writer must determine exactly what the purpose of the piece is and what information is needed to accomplish the goal. For example, the company culture, attitude, products/services, discounts, giveaways, etc. While this is pretty straightforward information, the writing style, word usage, key words, and tone can easily cause problems or rejections for the writer. It is emphatic to discuss at length what is expected, including schedule, fee, deadlines, topics, and anything else pertinent to the assignment.

Why ghost write? New writers are looking for an “in” in the writing world and will accept these type of assignments. The assignment may come from an existing client that is impressed with the virtual assistant’s skills and wants to give her more responsibility.  If the writer is very knowledgeable in a particular area or expertise, then ghost writing is an easy way to make money and write about something the writer is familiar with.

GhostBusters How much control does the ghostwriter have? Sometimes, not much. The usual issues are: not getting paid the appropriate amount of money or getting paid on time; the client is never satisfied with the final re-write; the project is scrapped, but the writer isn’t told right away, which makes the writer keep working, but the client does not want to pay for that time spent on the project. Also, the writer cannot insert his/her own thoughts or feelings on the topic. Many times the observations of the writer or statistical research are dismissed, if the client feels that it would be detrimental to the company or product/service.

Smiley Writer

Is ghost writing ethical? This is a very difficult question to answer. It depends on the mindset and beliefs of the writer and the client. While the client may feel justified that they paid for a writing service and they got it, the writer does not get the recognition he/she deserves. The writer does all of the research and writing for the project, but doesn’t even get an honorable mention!

For newbie writers, this is a chance to do some writing and get used to researching, meeting deadlines, and dealing with clients, but for a serious, professional writer, this would not be the first choice for a career. While this may be necessary, so clients can get the word out about their adventures, explorations, or ideas; ghost writing requires a lot of time and patience, several re-writes only to experience the lack of acknowledgment.

As a virtual assistant, specializing in writing projects, I am particular about the types of ghost writing assignments I take. These assignments can end up being time-consuming, frustrating and not so financially rewarding. As a writer, it is always best to discover and use your own voice, when writing anything. Ghost writing limits that possibility, but is a way to earn money.

What do you think of ghostwriting? Let me know and check out my website: http://www.VirtualColleagueLLC.com

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PRESIDENTS’ DAY FOR EVERY PRESIDENT

My blog this week focuses on all virtual assistants, not just on me. Presidents’ Day is a day dedicated to all presidents, whether they were good for the country or controversial, they all had an impact on the United States and the future of the country.

President Seal

Every person aspiring to become president has to dedicate their personal lives to promoting their public lives. A person aspiring to become president usually 1) gets involved in politics as a young adult and 2) establishes party affiliation and 3) works diligently for that group to promote herself.

Virtual assistants follow a similar path. We declare our specialty or niche as opposed to a political party. We also work diligently to promote ourselves through affiliation with LinkedIn, Google and other groups.

Just as the would-be president has to stand out from the rest of the crowd, so too, does a virtual assistant. Through continual training on a variety of topics, the virtual assistant rises to the top of her profession.

Social Media All

 A political candidate must also have a strong media presence. Not just his/her own website, but maintain a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites. The candidate has to keep her information current and keep pushing her own personal brand. Sometimes, the candidate may offer comparisons between 2 or more candidates.

A virtual assistant has to do the same things. We must try to stay current on all social media sites, pushing our business brand and demonstrating our strong points and explain why we are the best choice. Unlike a political candidate, the virtual assistant has to do this on her own. There are no volunteers to provide free help for her business. Instead, she either has to do it herself or pay someone else to do it for her.

A virtual assistant doesn’t have a large organization to help her plan her business strategy or to offer comments and suggestions as political parties do. She also doesn’t receive donations, because people think she’s very good as what she does. Instead, she has the weight of her business on her shoulders and she has to perform her work very well in order to get paid.

Connections

Virtual assistants have member groups on social media to help with advice on general topics, but it is up to the virtual assistant to take charge of her career and her business. She is the president of her company.  If she does well, she may get referrals from former clients and attract new ones.

The virtual assistant business is built on proficiency in the services they offer, social media marketing expertise, and perfectionism to get the job done right every time and on time. Clients’ satisfaction is paramount to continued success. Virtual assistants have an impact on every client they work with.

Female President

So although we celebrate the presidents of the United States on Presidents’ Day, let’s remember that every day, a virtual assistant is president of her company and she has all of the same responsibilities as any president of any company; the only difference is that she is both president and employee.

For more information about Virtual Colleague, LLC, check out the website.

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