To me, the most important aspect of working with a client is our relationship. Clear communication is vital to this partnership, so much more so than when you are in a conventional office setting, because it’s so very easy to convey the wrong tone via an email message. It is also very easy to let accountability to each other fade away, because we do not see each other face to face every day.
This communication begins when you meet with your Virtual Assistant for the very first time. It is important to have your questions ready and also to realize that your Virtual Assistant will have questions for you. Remember, a VA is in most cases, a business owner and is looking for their ideal client as much as you are looking for your ideal Virtual Assistant. This is a factor that is valuable to you and your business as it reflects the quality of your Virtual Assistant’s services.
Step 1: Prepare
Before speaking with a Virtual Assistant prepare the following items:
- A specific list of tasks or functions you need your VA to perform – email/calendar management, social media, CRM maintenance, blog research/posting etc.
- Your process, tools and desired results for each task – programs, training, time requirements etc.
- Your budget for these tasks – estimated time, hourly wage, monthly retainer, etc.
- Your communication plan with your VA – frequency, method (Skype? Email?) etc.
All too often business owners embark on a relationship with a Virtual Assistant with the sub-conscious attitude that even thought it might take them 4 hours to do a task to completion it should only take their Virtual Assistant half that time. So be very realistic in your expectations when you format your information. (To see my post on how a Virtual Assistant saves you money by doing the same tasks you do look here).
If you have found a VA you want to approach it’s also advisable to have taken a look at their website and hopefully the links to their social media sites – especially their LInkedIn profile – before meeting with them. By doing this beforehand, you can make the initial contact more efficient by checking your tasks and questions against information from these sources leaving more time for other things you might want to ask about such as any special interest in your particular industry or their own business experiences and direction.
Step 2: Questions to Ask
I’ve gathered a few questions to ask your Virtual Assistant upon your initial meeting/consultation that you may find helpful. You need to think about what is important to your specific business needs but these will get you started.
For your Virtual Assistant:
- First, start with an introduction of yourself, your business and your business goals.
- Ask your Virtual Assistant about themselves and their business. Although not essential, ideally, you probably want to work with a Virtual Assistant that shares either a common business related interest even if it comes from their personal interests or current situation in life.
- What are your Rates/Terms? Hourly, per project, retainer etc.
- What experience do you have in the areas I have indicated on my task list?
- Which items do you not have experience in and would you be willing to learn?
- What are your areas of strengths and what areas are you looking to strengthen or gain experience?
- What are your hours of operation and preferred method and hours of communication?
- Do you have any questions you would like to ask me about my business?
Questions your Virtual Assistant may ask you:
The nature of a Virtual Assistant is to be able to work with a variety of different types of businesses or have specialized in a specific area of interest/expertise. Many Virtual Assistants are operating in one stage or another in the overall process of finding their niche, be it a General VA or a specific niche such as a Virtual Assistant to Life Coaches, Social Media Management or Real Estate Virtual Assistant and some Virtual Assistants only offer particular services to clients or certain services exclusive to one industry or another.
Regardless, Virtual Assistants are always looking to work within a healthy, profitable, working relationship and so they will have questions for you as well:
- Have you ever worked with a Virtual Assistant and what was your experience like?
- What skills and experience do you think the ideal Virtual Assistant should have?
- What is the biggest problem you are facing that you’d like your partnership with a VA to solve?
- What are your strengths and what areas are you looking to improve upon? Are there challenges I might face in agreeing to work with you?
- Specific questions regarding technology, communication methods & styles, business goals and your expectations of working with a Virtual Assistant.
I hope this post has given you some encouragement and tools towards finding and working with a Virtual Assistant. I really believe that the right fit can truly make an incredibly beneficial difference for you and your business.
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