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Work With A Virtual Assistant To Hire Freelancers

Work With A Virtual Assistant To Hire FreelancersWhen running your business, there will be times where you will need to hire someone to do temporary work for a certain project, such as a rebranding, a speaking event, a conference, etc. These people might be graphic designers, copy editors, photographers…but not all businesses can afford to have a graphic designer or copy editor on full time. Maybe the one you use is not available anymore, or everyone you have met is outside your budget. Your next option is to find and hire a freelancer.

With a Virtual Assistant on your team, the process of hiring a freelancer can become close to effortless. If you are at a point in your business that you need to find an extra hand for an upcoming project, here is a great and fast way to work with your VA to hire your next freelancer!

1. Write out a job description.

With any position you are hiring for, you need to make a description, and it needs to be clear and concise. In a quick email or phone call, explain to your VA what you need, what they need to do, your budget (hourly or entire) and how soon you need it done. Have him/her write out a job description for you to approve. Once it has everything you are looking for, have your VA create a profile and post the job for hire on your selected freelancer hiring sites.

2. Handling Submissions.

Because your VA created the profile, they will be able to manage submissions. This also helps any distractions that will come with emails pouring in notifying you of new applicants. Make sure your VA knows to handle these submissions in a professional manner. Delete anyone who didn’t have the courtesy to write a decent cover letter. If the person is greatly out of your budget, you can trash those as well. I myself go through each submission and examples carefully – if I get a sense that their style or portfolio doesn’t match what my client needs, I don’t even bother with sending it to them. The only exception is if I see a really great candidate but their budget is a tad higher, I’ll keep them in the running because my client might have some wiggle room for someone really great.

3. Have your VA create a database.

In either a spreadsheet or word doc (whichever you prefer), ask your VA to send you a database of the qualified applicants. Ask them to include:

Name

Country

Fee

Rating

Link to Portfolio

Cover letter

When that is completed, the VA can send you this doc and you can quickly peruse through the applicants, therefore making your decision making easier and quicker.

4. Have your VA ask any questions or confirm information.

If you have any questions, don’t waste time contacting the applicant yourself. Have your VA write to them to confirm skills, schedule, fee, etc. They can update the database with your answers.

With this process, you should be able to find a great freelancer for your project. I’ve used this step by step for hiring logo designers, website designers and website developers with my clients. It’s greatly effective and saves my clients the hassle of having to sort through hours of applicants and emails Sending them a clear database of applicants makes the decision quicker, therefore reaching their goal quicker – which is what virtual assistants are all about!

Save some time (and headache!) and get a VA on your team to make your projects happen faster than ever.

About the author:Fiona Zwieb is a virtual assistant specialized in working with musicians, taking their daily struggles and busywork off of their plates so they can focus their energy and time on their music – and in turn, make more money with less stress! Track her tips, stories and life as a musician’s assistant on her blog, fionazwieb.tumblr.com and follow her on Twitter @fionazwieb.

15 Quick & Dirty Ways to Maximize Your Partnership with a Virtual Assistant

Maximize Your Partnership with a Virtual AssistantRelationships are complex. They can be both frustrating and rewarding. We want to invest time and energy into the relationships closest to our hearts –  a spouse or partner, children,  family and friends, but work relationships… not so much. Who’s got the time?

Along come the wonderful benefits of a Virtual Assistant. Working with a VA comes with the  distinct advantage of no manufactured-yet-required smile when you walk into your office.  Small talk elimination: you don’t ask your VA if she wants sugar in her coffee, while you are preparing your own.  Nor do you have to keep your voice down when you are arguing with your spouse over who is to pick up the toddler from daycare. Ahhhh, mental space. Sounds good, right?

So, how do you build a hassle-free virtual partnership with someone who is invested in your company and understands how all its intricacies work?

First, hire someone good. The rest is listed below.

1. DELEGATE The first step in working with your VA is to figure out the right tasks to take off your plate. Examine what takes up the most of your time, isn’t income-generating, or you simply hate to do.

2. BE STRAIGHT Start off the relationship by being as straightforward as you possibly can. Spell out your objectives and expectations, the tasks you want managed regularly and how many additional projects you expect to come up. I recommend putting it all down on “paper” or requesting a document with everything spelled out  as your VA understands it. This way, there are no surprises or misunderstandings.

3. PUT IN YOUR TIME Invest some time in training your VA on the ins and outs of your business processes, your clients, your voice and your preferred technology tools. This might sound counterproductive since, at the beginning, you’ll be spending more time training your VA than if you simply performed the tasks yourself, but in fact, when you put in the time to train your VA properly, you’ll benefit in the long run.

4. GIVE CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS When assigning a task make sure that all its components are clearly laid out and that your expectations are voiced. Include a due date. Don’t leave anything to be assumed! Remember Oscar Wilde’s take on what happens when you assume?

5. DOCUMENT PROJECTS AND PROGRESS There are numerous programs to manage teamwork, from an easy (and free) Excel spreadsheet to CRM or Project Management software. Find the one that works for you and use it!

6. CALL It’s a good practice to check in with your VA weekly. Setting a specific day/time of the week is best as it becomes part of your work routine. Even if it’s a simple 5 minute call, it’s a great tool to keep the relationship on point.

7. BE UNDERSTANDING Your VA is not a robot! The truth is if you work with computers for long enough you’ll find that even robots aren’t robots (hello glitches and bugs). Mistakes happen! Don’t get down on your VA (unless it’s a biggie, in which case refer to #14)

8. MICROMANAGEMENT; THE NOT-SO-SILENT KILLER Micromanaging is a killer when it comes to building trust and morale in a work relationship. It’s important to note that humans, by nature, have a desire for autonomy, so don’t squander that with micromanagement.

9. TRUST YOUR VA You’ve come to Virtual Assistant Israel, a company that spends an inordinate amount of time sifting through candidates and hires ONLY the best of the best. You’ve interviewed three qualified  VAs and have  chosen the one you find most suited for your needs. Now trust that decision and let her do her job.

10. BE OPEN TO NEW IDEAS Your VA is a fresh pair of eyes. Let her know that you are open to hearing about more efficient ways of doing things. Not only will this mindset support your success, it will make your VA feel more included and invested in your success.

11. RESPECT BOUNDARIES When starting a new relationship with a client I find it to be a good practice to communicate my “work hours”. I explain that these hours are not hard and fast rules (I’m always willing to go the extra mile, or in my case the extra few hours), but that’s when they can expect me to be available. Your VA is balancing work and family, just like you are. Respect those work hours and assign tasks accordingly.

12. GIVE FEEDBACK Once your VA sends you a completed task, be sure to provide feedback, especially at the start of the relationship. It can be glowing or constructive, but give it! Left unsaid, your VA will wonder if the work met your expectations. When the feedback is positive, she’ll be confident continuing the work she’s doing. If the feedback is constructive, it’s an opportunity to tweak the way you like things done so it will be 100% the way you want it, next time.

13. ASK FOR FEEDBACK (and listen to it!) Check in with your VA about how the tasks and relationship is progressing. Ask if there is anything that you can do to help the partnership thrive. Sincere interest will go a long way in productivity!

14. KEEP YOUR CRITICISMS CONSTRUCTIVE Although nobody wants to admit it, times will indeed come up when you will be displeased with you VA’s work (nobody’s perfect.) When that time comes, it’s important to express your disappointment in a constructive way. This does not mean stepping on eggshells so as not hurt your VA’s feelings, but there is a fine line between mistakes that need to be addressed and lashing out your disappointment.

15. AND FINALLY – LET GO! Once you’ve finished training, established trust and have found a system to keep the lines of communication open with your VA, let go. Rest assured that the tasks and projects you’ve handed over are now in your VA’s very capable hands.

Follow these steps and you’ll find that you’ve earned a successful partnership with your VA, which will give you the time and freedom you need to invest in growing your business.

About the author: Tovi is the Content Coordinator for Virtual Assistant Israel, a leading boutique Virtual Assistant firm based in Israel and serving clients throughout Europe and the United States. VAI employs American professionals who specialize in marketing, writing, administration and social media. Each VA has a U.S. phone line and works U.S. hours. Visit Virtual Assistant Israel to learn more.

Build a Global Business With Virtual Assistants

With more and more small businesses for the same market, how can you make sustain growth and profitability?

By taking the next step, going global, which can be done with virtual assistants.

Take for example the international beauty and fashion brand Cherry Blooms. Who would have thought that a company with products sold in over a 1,000 stores worldwide and have been featured in Oscars and Golden Globes swag bags, is all being run in a home office in Brisbane, Australia?

Jellaine Ross, the entrepreneur behind Cherry Blooms, managed to do build a global brand and is expected to make a $3 million turn over by 2014 from the comfort of her own home. And she credits the work of her team of virtual assistants in turning a simple local business in 2008 to worldwide brand.

In a story published on the Sydney Morning Herald, Ross’  shares how she built her brand from the ground up. Her #1 advice for entrepreneurs who want take their businesses globally is to hire a virtual assistant.

“You can’t get rich doing minor tasks, so delegate as much as you can and be precious with your energy. Hiring a virtual assistant can free up time you’re spending on admin, so you can instead focus on growing the business. At Cherry Blooms, we use oDesk or Elance to find and hire virtual assistants. They are usually based overseas and work remotely, and you can find well educated assistants who don’t charge a fortune. We use virtual assistants to upload our Instagram posts because the social media platform doesn’t allow you to preload, so it has to be manually done. We give them the content and they manually post on our behalf.”, Ross says.

Ross also emphasizes the need to properly manage virtual teams and to take advantage of all the tools available to ensure that tasks are done efficiently and on time.

“If your team is scattered all over the world, Basecamp is a great project management app for delegating projects to interns and virtual assistants. You can add a task, have it assigned to someone, and the person receives an email – and deadline, if you wish – and Basecamp will keep track of progress of the tasks.”

In addition to having a competent VA team Ross also credits networking, creative online marketing campaigns, and attending tradeshows as the other components that made Cherry Blooms a global success.

How Important is Customer Service?

My husband and I go to a special restaurant three times a year; my birthday, his birthday and our anniversary.  This place is special to us. When our waitress brought our drinks she wished me a happy birthday and pointed out that our menus were personalized and invited me to take them home as a keepsake (you can see my menu below).  I thought that this was a really thoughtful and smart way of connecting with their customers and it made me feel important and special.  What great customer service!  It reminded me of my favorite quote..

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”- Maya Angelou

This quote has always resonated with me.

On the other side of the customer service coin, I called a business in response to a listing by someone looking for a virtual assistant.  He was a bit gruff and irritable (OK…maybe a little more than a bit) when I called and I left the conversation knowing that this was not someone I would feel comfortable working with.  I had to wonder if he talks to his customers that way…

My opinion is that every business has one main objective – to take good care of their clients and anyone else that they may come into contact with in business.  When I work with my clients I encourage them to speak up and tell me what they want and need.  I want them to feel important and special…because they really are.  Without happy customers I would be out of business.  Good customer service just makes good business sense.

About the author: Jody Higgins is the CEO, Chief Social Media Strategist, and Owner of My Virtual Assistant Service, a multi-VA firm that specializes in creating and implementing social media and online marketing strategies to build brand awareness, increase website traffic and make more money for her clients. Jody also enjoys coaching and teaching entrepreneurs on all aspects of social media, as well as small business leadership. You can also find Jody and My Virtual Assistant Service on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Virtual Workforce And Virtual Assistants – An Emerging Workforce Trend

virtual workforceIn a press release by Virtual Assistant Talent LLC, John Davern, Jr., MBA talks about how a large number of businesses, from small companies to multinational corporations, are now realizing the benefit online outsourcing in general.

The virtual assistant industry in particular, is seen as an emerging workforce market. The demand for virtual assistants expected to see a rise in demand based on the trends recently released in the Global Online Employment Report by Elance.
“The recent advancements in technology have allowed outsourcing – particularly online outsourcing – to be available to anyone.” John shared, “This has made outsourcing available to, not only big businesses, but to start-ups and small to medium enterprises – the ones that could really benefit from outsourcing.”

Virtual Workforce Management
The unconventional work structure and geographical distance can throw off managers and corporations who are used to a traditional workforce. The challenge for companies is for them to adapt and modify their management practices that would make the most of their virtual workforce, maximizing productivity, creativity and teamwork.

“The common obstacles in workforce management can be narrowed down to these 3 areas: Communication, Connectivity and Collaboration.” John stated, “But these can be easily resolved through the use of the right tools and resources.”
The virtual workforce has become such an important business trend, they were discussed by Davern at the in this year’s Executive Next Practice (ENP) forum , a forum that focuses on upcoming trends in business and leadership for mid level and large mid to large market C-level to functional leaders and trusted advisors. In his talk “Emerging Trends in Virtual Markets and Workforce Management” Davern shared best practices and expected obstacles on how to handle a virtual team.

Davern’s 18 year experience in human resource with companies like GE and The Home Depot and as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Virtual Assistant Talent, LLC, gave him a unique perspective of how traditional companies and a virtual workplace and co-exist and collaborate to create the best working teams possible.

The ENP forum features though leaders from 35 global companies including Disney, Taco Bell, Dex, World Vision, B of A, Turkish Airlines, and Experia where they collaborate and discuss the latest “Next Practices” leadership and business strategies.

Ready, Set… Delegate!

Ready, Set… Delegate!As a small business owner myself, I really do “get it” that your business is your baby. You founded and built something to be proud of – with dedication and perspiration – yourself.

It is cause for celebration that you have expanded enough to require qualified support – you know you can no longer handle each and every task independently.

Enter the Virtual Assistant.

To most efficiently utilize your newly-hired helping hand, however, you will need to delegate tasks that had previously been yours, alone. Of course, this is entirely the point – but learning to let go of some of the tasks is a process involving both psychological and logistical preparation.  For some of us (control freaks!) it can be difficult to separate from being as intimately involved as you have been up until this point.

From one business owner to another, I’ve put together some handy exercises to prepare you to Let. Go.

Ready, set… delegate!

Keep a delegation list. Prior to beginning with a Virtual Assistant, give yourself a week with an ongoing list (yes, an actual list – not just a list in your head) next to you at all times. Actively think through each task you perform. Is this something you would feel comfortable delegating? Do you really need to handle all of your correspondence, travel arrangements, social media posts, research, and all those nagging phone calls – personally?  Wouldn’t it be great to get rid of that stuff?  Examine each task for its delegation potential. When you find one you consider eligible, write it down, even while it’s still just theoretical.

Ask your sounding board. Turn to someone you trust – your spouse/partner, confidante, coach or advisory board – what aren’t you good at?  Really, nobody can be the best at everything. Maybe you’re taking care of things that someone else could do better or more efficiently right off the bat.  Possible items that would fall in to this category might be blogging, seeking out potential speaking or networking engagements, identifying the best priced vendors, determining which social media channels are most appropriate for reaching your target audience, or secret shopping your competitors.

Document outreach guidelines. How many points of contact (correspondence, newsletters) do you want for your clients and suppliers each month? Do you prefer your social media presence to be predominantly material that is original (your published blogs or articles) or passed on from others in your field?  Start writing these things down so your VA can hit the ground running with minimal formal instruction.  When you come across content you feel your audience would appreciate, throw it into a “social media” file to give your incoming VA examples of articles, websites or blogs you favor.

Visualize the results. Not everyone’s the touchy-feely type, but give it a try.  Imagine what you could get done with the nitty-gritty stuff out of the way.  Surely, you would be able to do more of what you do best, which is why you run your business in the first place.  Additionally, the dreams of reaching a point where you’re not being eaten by logistical tasks can become a reality by just letting go a bit.  Even better – you’ll earn the possibility of enjoying some free time.  Nice picture, right?  Remember that vision.

Enter the interview process with a clear vision and expectations. When selecting a Virtual Assistant, you will be presented with a number of qualified, suitable candidates. Make the most of your interview with each applicant. Succinctly summarize not only what your business does, but what you envision your VAs role to include.  At Virtual Assistant Israel, we expect that your business will expand, and as such, we know your initial needs may change throughout this expansion. And that’s okay.  Even given those upcoming changes, you’ll feel more confident (as will your VA) with clear-cut expectations in place at the outset, even if they’re somewhat skeletal.

Avoid being overly concerned that your lists and files are currently disorganized. VAs are organizational wizards and can absolutely deal with that – scary, but it’s kind of what Virtual Assistants live for.

While many articles on delegating in small business instruct the business owner to lower her standards when outsourcing in order to find success – with a competent VA at your disposal, I do not believe you need to compromise. While there is always a learning curve involved, and your VA can never be you, perhaps she can perform some of your tasks even better than you can.

Loosening the reins in order to allow your small business to grow is not only liberating, it’s one of the greatest investments you can make in your company. Empower yourself by preparing to delegate, and your business will soar.

About the author: Aviela is a Virtual Assistant at Virtual Assistant Israel, a leading boutique Virtual Assistant firm based in Israel and serving clients throughout Europe and the United States. VAI employs American professionals who specialize in marketing, writing, administration and social media. Each VA has a U.S. phone line and works U.S. hours. Visit the VAI website to learn more and schedule your free consultation.

10 Best Tasks to Delegate to a VA and Why

10 Best Tasks to Delegate to a VA and WhyGiven that we Virtual Assistants aren’t normally hawked in a State Faire booth by some loud-mouthed, greasy-haired announcer proclaiming that “This handy little device slices, dices and crawls on its belly like a reptile!” – you may be trying to figure out what, exactly, we can do to enhance your business. This is especially pertinent, since we do not cost “One thin dime, one tenth of a dollar!”  Before you write that check, know how the power of the human tool, the ability to delegate to a Virtual Assistant, will take your business to the next level.

You have a successful business because you are excellent at doing whatever it is that you do. Congratulations! That is something of which you should truly be proud. As your business expands, so does the volume of around-the-business tasks that need to be handled. You should be doing what you do best and leave the rest to us at Virtual Assistant Israel. It’s time for you to delegate! The list of what can be delegated may be endless, but since nobody wants to read an endless blog post, I’ll give you a run-down of the Top Ten Best Tasks to Delegate. (I hear the drum roll, don’t you?)

1. Correspondence

Writing to clients; answering emails; phone calls to clients, suppliers and service providers.

2. Calendar / datebook

Scheduling appointments, booking meetings between multiple parties.

3. Blog writing

Just show me your style and let me run.

4. Social media

Posting on all your regular sites, plus coming up with the post material and keeping track of retweets / friending / answering questions, playing the game.

5. Reward program

Thank you gifts for referrals, holiday season cards.

6. Event planning

Finding a venue, a/v equipment, refreshments, nametags and other logistics to make your event shine.

7. Website updates

Daily quote, checking statistics, updating photos, headlines, and  on your website.

8. Travel arrangements

Including whether you prefer chicken or fish, window seat or aisle.

9. Research

Pricing, potential partnerships, local statistics, trends, competitors, and more.

10. Editing / proofreading

Your blog, articles, grant proposals, email drafts, correspondence, and anywhere you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

I promised you a Why. That part is easy. Sit back a minute and put your feet up. Make yourself really comfortable. Now, close your eyes and imagine how much you would be able to get done – how much your business could expand – if only you could concentrate on the raison d’être of your business and leave all the associated, peripheral tasks in the dust. That’s Why.

About the author: Aviela is a Virtual Assistant at Virtual Assistant Israel, a leading boutique Virtual Assistant firm based in Israel and serving clients throughout Europe and the United States. VAI employs American professionals who specialize in marketing, writing, administration and social media. Each VA has a U.S. phone line and works U.S. hours. Visit the VAI website to learn more and schedule your free consultation.