This is the first in a series of articles to assist new business owners and entrepreneurs with how to work with a Virtual Assistant (VA), from the perspective of a virtual assistant – me!
You’ve read the articles, guides and ebooks. You’ve listened to webinars, scrolled through tweetchats on Twitter and watched videos on YouTube to learn how to hire a Virtual Assistant. Still, you haven’t been able to find that “just right” individual to be your virtual office ace.
As your entrepreneurial endeavor is beginning to bear fruit, it’s important to know what office tasks should be assigned – and to whom. But first, you have to know what to look for in a Virtual Assistant.
Let’s remember that a Virtual Assistant is a business owner, as you are. He or she has bills to pay, profit to generate and often will have other clients to serve. A Virtual Assistant is a professional freelancer, working for you on an as-needed basis; bringing necessary skills for you to fulfill your business dream. The benefit to you is the opportunity to bring in a high level professional, without the annual salary, benefits and administrative costs associated with hiring an employee.
As you would take similar steps when seeking a contractor like a plumber, mechanic or doctor, let’s run through some of the basics of hiring a Virtual Assistant:
Do not even think of hiring a high school or college student, or worse, invite an unpaid intern to become your Virtual Assistant. Would you use the same approach if you sought a plumber, mechanic, or a brain surgeon? Probably not. Your business is not a hobby or a college assignment. Your business is a revenue producing, always evolving and hopefully profitable entity. A teenager who knows how to play Candy Crush Saga on his iPhone is not a qualified, vetted Virtual Assistant. Your VA, especially your first, should have skills and experience performing the tasks you will assign. In fact, an experienced, high level VA can assist you with transitioning tasks by recommending what he or she can take off of your plate, so you can focus on more profitable activities.
How do you know your prospective VA’s background? Ask. Any pro worth his or her salt will have a web presence, or at the very least, a LinkedIn profile or Facebook page. If you can’t find it, you may want to skip that prospect and move on to the next. There are thousands of qualified pros who will partner with you to help you execute your plans and hit your targets. Surely you can find someone with references and that has a track record of work you can measure.
Ask the prospective VA for samples of work. If you’re looking for assistance copy editing your blog posts, ask for links to past work – and check it. The same holds true for social media marketing assistance. My gauge is – if someone markets themselves as a social media marketing guru, maven or maverick and doesn’t have a Twitter feed, Facebook page or a LinkedIn profile – run, don’t walk, in the opposite direction. Not legit.
As you would vet a prospective employee, ask for references and then follow up. Three is probably enough, even better if at least one is someone you know and trust.
We’d like to hear your comments about seeking or working with a VA. Would you please share in the comments?
About the author: Sonia Schenker has more than 25 years experience as an administrative assistant and executive office support professional, specializing in transforming chaos to cadence by assisting new and experienced entrepreneurs identify and implement timely, effective and necessary tasks that become the support structure of their profitability. She founded Your Job My Office Virtual Assistance in 2009. Sonia is a life-learner and recent college graduate (with honors), having majored in business management. SoniaSchenker.com @YourJobMyOffice, @SoniaSchenker, Sonia on Facebook.