So You Want to Work with a Virtual Assistant?
1) Have a good understanding of what you want the VA to do for you. Keep an ongoing list of responsibilities you really want to delegate. List those items which keep you from doing the primary work you enjoy.
2) Prioritize that list. Break the projects down to three categories: Items which should have been done yesterday; those which need to be done this week and those which can wait until next month.
3) Decide how much your budget will allow to contract with a virtual assistant. If you can spend $300 a month; then stick to that budget.
4) Post a request for proposal (RFP) on Virtual Assistantville
Create a detailed RFP. Do not forget to include your website address and an alternate email address. Many virtual assistants will research your business online before posting for a position so any information you offer beforehand only helps to weed out those who may not meet your needs. **This tip is a time-saver for both the individual screening the RFPs and the VAs submitting the response to the RFP.**
5) Give a time-line as to when your RFP response has to be submitted but give a fair amount of time to respond. Interested virtual assistants will respond fairly quickly but it does take time and effort to reply properly to RFPs as the responses are often customized to align VA skills with client needs.Specify what you want the VA to send you in the first pass…i.e., links to sites, blogging samples, graphic samples, articles, etc.
Note: It is not necessary to ask for a resume. This is not an employee-employer relationship. A virtual assistant is a business owner as well.
6) Ask for testimonials.
7) If you know someone who works with a VA, then ask for a referral from that colleague. If you like the work you see, then this can be indicative of a VA whose skills may meet your own business needs.
8) When you have decided upon the right virtual assistant for your business, expect that in the beginning you will need to ‘hand over’ passwords, usernames and business information to get started. Be sure that your VA has a confidentiality agreement. You will need to reveal confidential business information to someone with whom you have never been physically introduced. Trust will grow over time.
9) Review the service contract needed to ensure both parties are in agreement with terms, rates, etc., and return back to the VA in a timely fashion. If you are not in agreement with something in the contract, say so before you sign.
10) Communicate…communicate…communicate… Set aside time during the work week to answer your VA’s emails and questions. Respond to your VA with complete thoughts and not “140 characters or less” responses. Regularly forward industry-related articles and blog topics links to your VA to engage conversation and to help generate new ideas to help grow your business. If you have online e-newsletter industry subscriptions, offer to forward these documents to your virtual assistant. Mail your VA any publications which are related to your business.
You will find more time to do the work you enjoy. You can focus on your business plan. With some upfront ‘legwork’, you can partner with someone who has an interest in the growth of your business.
About the author: Since opening Your Virtual Wizard in March of 2006, Janine Gregor has developed a reputation for getting the job done and doing it right. Known for her perseverance and determination to find the best solution for her clients, she was once dubbed, “The Thinking VA” by one of her long-term clients. Specializing in business and promotional writing, social media and e-commerce support Janine partners with small business owners to engender enthusiasm and desire for her clients’ products and services.