Are You Ready for a Virtual Assistant?

September 30, 2011 by  Filed under: Management 

What is a Virtual Assistant?

Simple put a virtual assistant is someone who provides a variety of services to businesses and individuals remotely. Virtual Assistants are just that- Virtual. They are independent contractors that work from their own location.

What Does Virtual Assistant Do?

Many Virtual Assistants still do the everyday general administration work. With today’s world, however, many VAs have been specializing to better accommodate the needs of their client. Today you can find Social Media Specialists, Internet Marketing Specialists, Affiliate Marketing Specialists, Speaker and Coaching Specialists, Real Estate Specialists and more.

Where do I find a Virtual Assistant?

Many freelance agencies now offer Virtual Assistants. Agencies such as oDesk, Guru and Elance also have a rating system so you can see testimonials from their past contracts. Many also have built in assurances that they person is working on your projects for the amount of time they are billing. There are also thousands you can find doing a general search. If you are looking for a Specialty VA- make sure you add that specialty to the search.

Things you should consider before hiring a Virtual Assistant?

1. Professionalism and Timeliness: Do they answer her or his emails, voicemails and other correspondence in a timely and professional manner? You should always try sending them an email or two and see how quick they respond. Also try calling the person (via phone or Skype) to make sure they are the right choice to represent you and your company.

2. Project Management. Juggling tasks nowadays is vital. Many Virtual Assistants will need to answer phones, type messages, do social media postings and more- many times at the same time. It is important to make sure the person can manage both projects and time correctly.

3. Availability. It is not uncommon for you as an employer to be in a funnel system for the VA. It is important to ask how many clients they currently have and how many people do they have on their staff to accommodate their client’s needs. Nothing is worse than investing time and money with an assistant- only to have them take too many clients on and your work never gets done.

4. Test. Ask if the assistant offers a probation or test discount period. Many people will offer a 2 week or 1 month trial at a discounted rate. This will allow you to make sure that you and the assistant are compatible and that both are happy at the end of the trial.

5. Get References. Most VAs give you a list of people whom you can contact who will tell you about working with her or him or will have testimonials on their website. If you are hiring the person direct and not though and agency- getting references and samples of their work is important.

With this information, you should be able to be ready for the next step in hiring an assistant. Remember, VAs just like the traditional employee, cannot read minds- they need a clear set of goals, instructions and tasks for them to complete. Many are happy to done a phone interview to discuss your goals and objectives before hiring them. Having this clear plan of attack, if you will, also ensures that you will be off to a good long working relationship with your assistant.

Valerie Jennings has a BA in Communications with over 25 years of experience in the Administrative and Computer Fields. She is now one of the owners of Your Virtual Assistants, a bilingual virtual assistance company whose primary mission is providing general, social media and internet marketing services to small and mid-sized companies. To read more about our services please visit our web page or sign up for our free newsletter

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