Why You Need an Online Presence and How It Will Help You Make More Money

If you run your own business, you’ve probably heard about an “online presence.”  So what exactly is it really?  And how can it be used to help build your business?  How much time is that going to take to build?

Simply stated, an online presence is created from everything that you do online.  It tells people about who you are, what you do, and where they can learn more about you.  This takes into account your website, social media, newsletters and ezines, blogging, article marketing, and any of your other online activities.

In the digital age that we live in, having a strong online presence is critical.  If someone is considering working with your business or hiring you personally, what do you think is the first thing they are going to do before making a decision?  Google it!  They’ll find your website, reviews, Facebook page, and anything else that you have out there in cyberspace.  People make buying decisions based on what they find online.  It’s THAT important!

Your website is the face of your business.  It tells your story and educates your audience about who you are and what you do.  Your goal is to create a website experience that accurately portrays your brand and makes people want to know more.  Make sure that you add a blog feature to your website and use it to share what you know. Share valuable content at least weekly.  This will help to raise your “Know, Like and Trust” factor and will also add to your website’s traffic.  Google loves blogs!

Social media is another huge component of your online presence and is a great way to drive more traffic to your website.  There are so many platforms to choose from that deciding which ones to use can make your head spin.  Don’t even think about trying to be on all of them.  You’ll post twice and be so overwhelmed that you will abandon them all completely.  If you’re new to social media, here’s my advice:  start small and be consistent.  Choose 1 or 2 platforms where your target market hangs out and be present there.  Post on a regular basis and talk to people.  In 15 minutes a day, you can have a great start to a strong online presence.

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+.

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.

Communication: The Battle Cry of the Virtual Assistant

Communication: The Battle Cry of the Virtual AssistantJust as the famous chant of a real estate agent would be “Location, location, location!” – the battle cry of the Virtual Assistant is “Communication, communication, communication!” Really, it’s a biggie on the priority list to make ours a successful, working relationship.

I don’t hear you thump down your briefcase when you return to the office after a negative client meeting. I don’t see your rumpled clothing, the result of your spouse having been ill for a full week already. Even better – I don’t hear office gossip that would cause me to have any suspicions. So, when things happen, just let me know. I’m here to make your life easier, right? I’d be very happy to make a few excuses to your clients, move some meetings around and keep your website and inbox looking ship-shape. That way, you can give your spouse the rest he or she requires, and still be confident that your work is not taking the fall.

I have a really lovely partnership client who provides a quality service I believe in. We’ve been working together for a few years now, so I’m pretty familiar with both partners’ writing styles, preferences and response times. You can imagine how shocked I was when I received no answer to an email query sent to Partner Number One, who usually responds within a few hours. I waited. My client’s client, with whom I was corresponding, was also waiting. I was ready to call emergency rooms, when Partner Number Two let me know that Partner Number One was on vacation in the Ukraine. The communication delay caused their client understandable frustration, which I would have preferred to prevent. I schooled my client in the workings of autoresponders, and we can now work side by side to prevent mishaps like this.Communication, communication, communication!

I manage correspondence for a few different clients. Upon the commencement of a new working relationship, I “interview” my new client to make sure I’ve noted his or her work style, communication and hours preference (some folks are emailers, some are phone people, some early risers and some night owls) and any other relevant details (aisle or window? Chicken or fish?) As close as I’ve gotten to having ESP, however, there is always a learning curve present. Being a reasonable person, you probably know this, too.  Do us (and our working relationship) a favor – if I’m a little off on an assigned task, let me know, so I can re-adjust for next time!  I won’t see your grimace or that little eyebrow raise. Clear communication is key.

You could say (or write), “Aviela, can we tweak this a little?” I can do pretty much anything exactly the way you’d like it done. Okay, virtual coffee might not quite work, I’ll grant you that. Some clients are very particular and I respect that. Below is a list of items I might manage on your behalf. You may have developed a particular format, style or order of wanting them completed. Don’t keep your way a secret! Let me know, and I promise, it’ll look so good, you may think you’ve done it yourself:

  • Calendar, contact entries, confirmations
  • Correspondence
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Research
  • Spreadsheets
  • CRM documentation
  • Travel plans

I’ve even been known to do clients’ personal shopping, restaurant reservations and personal RSVPs. I bought one client’s wife flowers and wrote a lovely card to match.

So, not only do I wear many different hats, my hats are in all different styles. Friendly or formal, comical or casual, I can do it. The key is not to be scared of articulating specifics. You’ll be glad you let me know!

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.

Virtual Assistant Services A Boon To American Real Estate Investors

Real Estate Virtual AssistantsA live interview with Elsa Olden of Virtual Office Staffing at the American Real Estate Investors radio show discussed how virtual staffing has helped small business all over the country, real estate investors in particular, grow their businesses without the usual risks involved.

Small businesses that don’t grow risk losing their market if they’re unable to keep up with the demands of their growing clientele. Businesses that grow to fast on the other hand, risk bankruptcy if they don’t have enough money or resources to support additional staff.

Olden explains in the American REIA interview how outsourcing staffing needs to virtual assistants can help business avoid these risks as well as providing tips to listeners on how to hire their own virtual assistants. The competitive advantages of getting virtual assistants over in house staffing was enumerated and discussed in detail. Not only is virtual staffing less capital and resource intensive than traditional house staff, business can scale the amount of work they can allocate to their workers depending on their needs and what the businesses can afford.

The interview also covers the potential risks and pitfalls with hiring virtual assistants, especially for business owners who are not used to this non-traditional work arrangement.  In spite of these risks, the benefits of getting virtual assistants greatly outweigh the costs. In fact, is the safest investment investors can make for their business. Josh Caldwell of Caldwell Holdings LLC, a Pittsburgh real estate Investing company, is well aware of this and have utilized virtual assistants regularly for his company. “My home buying business in Pittsburgh would never be able to function at the level we are at without the use of virtual assistants.”, says Caldwell.