Common Virtual Assistant Misconceptions
Please don’t get the wrong impression about Virtual Assistants. My fear is, if you are on Twitter, you may.
There are many newbie Virtual Assistants who are so anxious to get experience and get clients that they do nothing to eradicate some people’s opinions of Virtual Assistants as employees or subservient secretaries.
Or they engage in “bidding” for “jobs” and almost “solicitation like” wooing of fellow Tweeter’s who are seeking Virtual Assistance. Some of the sales pitches are so heavy that they’d sink a ship. Worse yet, they offer to send their resume to a prospect (Virtual Assistants should use client testimonials and their website as a “resume” as well as a “reference”). Regarding bidding, I realize that businesses do bid for jobs, but the type of bidding I am describing involves competitive low balling so the Virtual Assistant can get some work and outbid her fellow VA. This only serves to demean our profession and undercut our highly professional level of skill and business management expertise.
I’ve seen so much of this lately on Twitter that it really disheartens me. I LOVE what I do as a professional Mac/Eco/Social Media Virtual Assistant and I want the world to know that we are not “secretaries”. We are a business entity. Like IBM, Apple or Microsoft.
I also hear of Virtual Assistants succumbing to what can only be described as abusive behavior by clients. When I hear their stories, it is clear to me that the client does not consider them a collaborative business partner. Instead, they are most likely thinking of them as a subservient clerk. A role in which, sadly, abusive behavior may be tolerated.
I am distressed because I think this can be avoided if Virtual Assistants would do more in the way of using Twitter as a medium to empower our profession. The public needs an education on who/what we are and how we can enhance their business and give them the most precious gift – free time.
A Virtual Assistant is an ideal solution for an entrepreneur or small business. There are no “carrying costs” associated with working with a Virtual Assistant, like health insurance, office space, 401K, etc. The VA pays his/her own taxes.
So by collaborating with a Virtual Assistant, the entrepreneur can benefit from what I hope would be a VA with a finely tuned business acumen and a bevy of administrative skills. There is no “boss/employee” scenario. It is more of a marriage between two business persons. Two people, collaborating together, where one person, the VA, is working to get to know the other (the client). Over time, in good “relationships” this knowledge of the client and their way of working can benefit both people. It benefits the Virtual Assistant as he/she has a loyal and steady client and income. It benefits the client as they have a vested trust in their administrator and enjoy handing off more tasks and projects as time goes along. The client knows that a trusted professional is handling their day to day administrative needs, and should have an ever increasing sense of confidence in the VA. At the end of the day, they should have more free time to do with as they please.
There are many new Virtual Assistants who either choose to run their business in a different manner to what I describe above, or they are so desperate for clients they are not concerned with how they or their business is perceived. They give a rather negative name to me and my trusted peers, as all a prospective client needs to see is a few Tweets from “a new and desperate VA” to form an opinion of our profession.
So my advice to you, if you are seeking to work with a Virtual Assistant, is to do your due diligence. Talk to as many VA’s as you can. Ask a ton of questions. Research the Virtual Assistant profession on Wikipedia, Google, etc. Most importantly, realize the difference between a Virtual Assistant and an employee. Know what you will be potentially gaining from the relationship. And lastly, realize that the cheapest Virtual Assistant is not always the best solution.
Are you seeking a Virtual Assistant? What ways have you researched the profession?
About the author: Taryn Merrick is a Professional Mac Virtual Assistant and Online Business Manager (OBM). As Principal of Merrick Management And Media Services, she has over 20 years of administrative management experience. Taryn works to promote the Virtual Assistant industry and to make it stand out as a true profession of excellence. Her style is easy going, yet precise, with emphasis placed on exceeding customer expectations, client communication and satisfaction.