Tag Archives: Results

Write it, Read it, Do it!

As part of the services I offer in my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, I create training manuals and instructional material. Now, this sounds easy to do. Right? All you have to do it just take it one step at a time and write down what you’re supposed to do. Whether it’s hit a specific button on a computer, pull on a lever, or speak in commands; this should be very simple to create. Not really!

Scrabble Guide

There is more to writing training manuals and instructional material than just writing down step-by-step tasks. Let’s take each project one at a time.

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An instructional manual can be a booklet, card, or video, sometimes written in different languages, that describes how to use a widget. The manual starts with how to unpack the widget and tells the user how to get it ready for use, if that needs to be done. The manual also gives step-by-step instructions on how to use the widget with many caution and safety comments interspersed between the steps. It also lists do’s and don’ts and gives advice on how to care for the widget, warranty information, where to find replacement parts, where to take it for service and other information.

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Examples of manuals are how to operate a lawn mower, how to connect your television to your computer, and many other things. Pinterest is a mini-instructional guide to how to do things including shortcuts.

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A training manual is very different. The purpose of a training manual is to describe to the user how to actually use it to do the work. For example, if you want to create an excel spreadsheet and you’ve never used excel before, you can find instructions online that describe each step and click to create a spreadsheet. Training manuals teach without bringing in all the safety and cautionary advice. It is a clear-cut systematic description of what to do and how to do it.

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There may be times when the user has a choice about certain options. For example, in the spreadsheet, the creator may want to change the font. This action is described, but the user is told that the change can be made at any time. It is at the discretion of the creator. Training manuals are geared to quickly learning how to do something without distracting details. It is clear, simple, concise steps to achieve the end result. Examples of training manuals are SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), logging in to a specific software program, creating a blog with WordPress or BlogSpot.

What starts out as something simple can turn into a complex project in minutes. I always start with an outline and then write up one section at a time. Then I condense or expand each section according to difficulty or available options. Formatting and visual presentation is not so important, because my client usually has a specific font, size, and format in mind for the project.

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As always, I try to offer my client more options, so they can choose what is right for them, whether it’s formatting, word choice, photos, and graphics; I always try to present the project from different perspectives.

The take-away is this: always hire professional writers to do your work. It may seem simple to you, but a professional writer will have an in-depth look at the project and may suggest other topics to cover. Your project will be written in a clear, easy-to-read style and contain all of the information needed, because the writer looks at your project with a new set of eyes.

To find out more about what Virtual Colleague, LLC can do for your business, click here.

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Virtual Assistants are the Bread of Businesses

When I think of networking as a virtual assistant, I think of making bread dough! Both contain basic ingredients and are not easy to handle, but can turn out excellent results. You never know, if it will turn out as planned.

Sandwich

Bread dough is basically flour and water. Networking is you, the virtual assistant, and the event. Great care has to be taken to get good results. For the bread dough, fresh ingredients, a clean working surface, the determination to massage and finesse the dough to the right consistency, and time and patience. These are essential to getting good results.

Sliced loaf of bread

Virtual assistants are basically administrative professionals that have advanced skills and talents. They need to attend social events to promote themselves and their businesses. Virtual assistants have to take care of their own businesses by preparing for these events. They must look professional, have great social communication skills, and be able to gently extract pertinent information from potential clients, so they can initiate a meeting or set up some type of communication with them.

Networking

While making bread dough requires physical strength and coordination, the virtual assistant has to stimulate conversation and stretch themselves skillfully to attract new clients. In the bread dough, the yeast is the essence of the bread. This is a process of using just the right degree of warm water and yeast. The yeast has to sit there and “work” until it’s ready to be put into the bowl and allowed to rise to its full potential.

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Virtual assistants go through the same formula. They have to have the right mix of skills, learning capacity, and they have to give themselves time to “mature” and be ready to formulate their own business and be successful. They’re ready, when they have mastered several skills and they’re ready to jump into the competitiveness of the business world.

What if the bread dough doesn’t rise or is too sticky or lumpy? We all make mistakes and sometimes things are just not meant to be. Learn from your mistakes. The greatest chefs in the world burned toast and failed many times before achieving success. Learn from your mistakes and keep on trying. You will not make as many mistakes as you think you will and you will become better at your craft, the more you do it.

Chef

The bread dough, if prepared and handled properly, will yield a delicious loaf of bread. It will look enticing, taste incredible, and compliment any food that’s served with it. So too, for virtual assistants, they must continue to grow and develop in many ways, while they’re preparing themselves for business ownership.

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When they’re ready, they will present a professional presence by being able to speak about many topics, act in a professional manner, and connect with their potential clients on several levels. Their expertise will impress their new clients and reinforce their business relationships. Virtual assistants and their businesses or brands will have a far reaching effect. Most of the clients will automatically promote their virtual assistants and their skills. Virtual assistants, if skilled properly and ready for a challenge, should complement any business.

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So the next time you sit down to eat any type of bread, whether it’s fancy, spicy, with seeds, crusty, thin-sliced, or hearty, think of the bread-making process and how long it took to get to what it is right now in your plate. Think of the work, the hours, and the care that made this bread what it is. Look at it and then taste it and feel the results of someone’s hard work, talent, and patience.

Bread Basket

These same principles should be applied to any virtual assistant business and if anyone is thinking about becoming a virtual assistant, I say “go for it”. Start right now to develop your skills and abilities, start working on your business plan, develop your professional brand and remember that time and patience yields a good harvest.

Check out my website Virtual Colleague LLC.

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Why Do I Need A Resume?

My virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, focuses on writing projects, so in this blog, I’m going to discuss the importance of a resume and why it’s important to keep it up-to-date.

According to FreeDefinition.com, the definition of a resume is “a brief account of one’s professional or work experience and qualifications, often submitted with an employment application.” This may have been true in the past, but in today’s ever-changing and competitive world, resumes have changed.

Two obvious changes are: the inclusion in the heading of the applicant’s LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Twitter URL. The second change is the elimination of the Objective paragraph. By including your social media URLs, a potential employer can gage what your interests are, who you interact with and how you communicate with your followers. This is an important step in the hiring process to see, if you fit the culture of the group or company.

Social Media

Another new change in resumes is the need to demonstrate your skills and results. It is no longer acceptable to create a list of accomplishments. Hiring managers want to see, what you have done AND the outcome. They want to see RESULTS. Anyone can boast about the tasks and projects they worked on, but did those tasks and projects produce results and did those results exceed expectations?

Without giving any proprietary information, applicants should be able to list accomplishments along with the results and provide facts to back up their statements. Listing the applicant’s rating in their peer group also enhances the information they provide.

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Why is this necessary? In today’s world, it is too easy to copy, paste and embroider on the truth or simply give in to the temptation to exaggerate or create what the applicant wishes they had done or would like to see on their resume. With the economy at a low point, employers are overwhelmed with applicants for every position posted. That’s why a clean, substantiated resume rises to the top of the list. The information is easily verifiable and the facts speak for themselves.

Anyone seeking to change jobs or is in the process of looking for a job or promotion should consider this information, when creating or seeking someone to create their resume for them. As an applicant, you need to stand out from the rest and believe me, there are thousands of applicants out there gunning for the same position.

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As a certified freelance writer in non-fiction, I create resumes as part of my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC. Aside from the usual resume offerings, I create a Skills Portfolio for each client. This is a binder that illustrates the applicant’s skills, talents, abilities and strengths through a series of photos, clipart, infographics and other visuals that promote the applicant as a multi-faceted person. The Skills Portfolio covers the applicant’s interests, hobbies, volunteer work and favorite pastimes.  It’s a great way to leave a lasting impression on the interviewer by presenting the Skills Portfolio at the time of your interview.

So you’re settled in your job and you’re not looking for another job. It’s always best to keep your resume and Skills Portfolio up-to-date. You never know, when that information will be needed and it will be in a tidy, well-organized place.

Best advice: Make sure you always have a resume and Skills Portfolio. You never know, when that information will be needed, especially during your annual review. Also, once a year, take the time to go through your resume and Skills Portfolio and add any new awards or promotions, update your job duties and responsibilities, list any new activities including volunteering and work-related volunteer work. Make sure you have the correct contact information for your references and try to get letters of recommendation on the work you are presently doing.

By keeping your resume up-to-date, organized, and current, you avoid losing valuable information and job descriptions, which you may need further down the road.

My business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, specializes in writing projects. I have created many resumes over the years and I enjoy bringing out the best of what my clients have to offer. If you or anyone you know needs a resume created or updated, they can contact me at 401-384-0257 or email me at: JPlante@VirtualColleagueLLC.com.

See my website: www.VirtualColleagueLLC.com for details.

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Trick or Treating as a Virtual Assistant

Halloween is tomorrow and although I’ve never really gotten into Halloween, every year I enjoy watching the children get all dressed up and parade around the neighborhood.

Last Saturday, I went to town to do a few errands. They were having the Halloween Parade from noon to 2. The sidewalks were loaded with parents towing their children in all sorts of costumes. There were ghosts, batmen, Spidermen, princesses, brides, dinosaurs, bananas, sharks and other creations.

A few of the parents got into the spirit of it. It was fun to see how creative the parents were in finding appropriate, well-fitting costumes for their children. Some of these costumes were handmade.

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I took a few minutes to just stand aside and watch them go from shop to shop, all excited and happy, and get a treat from each shop. It was only a small piece of candy and only 1 piece of candy per person was given out, but still, the children received some compensation for their efforts in getting in costume.

This whole spectacle got me thinking about my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC. Most of the time, I put in a great deal of effort to market my business.

Like the children, who knew they were going to the Halloween Parade, I think about my business brand as well as my personal brand. What do I want to emphasize, how do I want to present my business? I ask myself these questions, decide on the answers and then move forward.

Just like those children, who watch the clock in anticipation of Saturday noontime, I also anticipate opportunities to market my business. It can be anywhere and at any time. I am always ready with my brochures and business cards to talk about my virtual assistant business.

I watched those children very closely. They started at one end of the street and stayed on that side of the street until there were no more shops. Then they crossed the street and continued on to the other side.

I approach my marketing in the same way. I prepare, then map out a plan and stick to it. I’m sure that some of the children didn’t like some of the candy that was given to them, but they continued on, knowing that more was out there and they just had to keep trying to get as much as they could.

When marketing my virtual assistant business, the same holds true. I keep to my marketing plan. It may fall on deaf ears or maybe that person will never need to use my services, but I just stay focused, positive, and keep at it.

At the end of the 2-hour parade, some of the children looked tired and others just couldn’t wait to get home and see the results of their efforts.

I feel the same way about marketing. I frequently stop and evaluate what I’ve done and see what the results are. Sometimes it’s a little disappointing, while other times, I’ve really gotten several good leads or at least a meeting with another business person.

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Just like the mixed bag of candy at the end of the parade, my marketing plan has received several new leads to pursue and/or meetings with potential clients.

Just like the children, I sit back and pick out the things I like the most and work on them first. For the children, it’s their favorite candy. For me, it’s the best lead I have to bring in a new client.

I guess Halloween Trick or Treating isn’t so bad after all!

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