You Can Become a Virtual Assistant!

Everything you need to get started!

Get Down to the Real Work – Plan Your Practice

Get out your worksheet and start putting it together: Choose a business name. List some ideas. Determine a focus for your VA business. Will you want to type manuscripts for writers, do bookkeeping, edit or create web sites? Write a list of all possible VA focuses. List those ideas: Create a web site about yourself and your services. For a very low cost you can have a web site up and running for less than $20. ProSiteSetup is a complete domain and hosting service that I use for all of my websites and blogs. http://www.prositesetup.com. This is a great way to start with a web site, a good reference for you to add to your brochures, business cards and other marketing materials. If you are unfamiliar with creating your own web site, try their WebSite Tonight service. Use professional looking stationery and envelopes for communication. Create a professional signature to use with all of your email messages. Include a tag line. List possible tag lines: Create a business card. Create a brochure outlining your expertise. Join a local networking or a special interest group. Newspapers often list news and meeting announcements for these organizations. Call to see if you can be a guest at a group meeting. Start a list of possible client leads.   Look at your emails, check your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts – don’t have them, get started. Follow up with a letter, email or phoning just to touch base.  Ask current business associates and friends for referrals. Set up lunch and coffee appointments to introduce yourself as a VA and to explain the VA...

Why Entrepreneurs Want VAs & Who Do You Want For Your Clients?

Clients want VA services to affect an end result. People buy benefits, not features. Bottom line, they buy:  More time for themselves  Solutions to their problems  Freedom to move forward in their work  Credibility  Value, not price  Convenience  Improve their bottom line (money) Find the area where you can help and show them how you are able to help. Ask them questions about how they are spending their time, what they are doing that they wish someone else would handle. Let them talk and you ask more questions. Allow them to talk and they will talk themselves right into understanding that a VA partnership with you is just what they were looking for! It really is a simple concept. It takes some practice, but with more practice but the job gets easier and then it becomes fun.   Who Do You Want Your Clients to Be? Your clients’ needs must reflect your background and your experience. You have a unique set of skills to bring to the market. These skills and experiences are what are attractive to certain clients. With this in mind you must focus on bringing clients to your practice that require your area of expertise. Take a few moments to identify and list good client matches that suit your skills and experience. Use the following worksheet to work up a client match that is suited for your skills. These will be your preferred clients. Your Skills Prospective Clients Database expert   Contact database requirements, such as ACT! (Sales & marketing professionals, coaches) Spreadsheet expertise   Engineers, accountants, financial consultants, coaches Word processing   Writers, editors, sales...

Preparing to Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk

If you are going to be a VA, you’ve got to talk about it. Talking About What You Have to Offer Once you have decided that becoming a VA is your mission and you sincerely want to pursue this career, it is important to become comfortable with talking about being a VA. Virtual Assistance lends itself to be spoken about. You need to feel free to talk about yourself and your practice. The whole idea is to always have your practice on y our mind and to talk about VAing. You will be able to improve client attraction through conversations with prospects. Getting people involved in a conversation with you about the benefits of VAing will go a long way in promoting yourself and the benefits that can be gained through a VA partnership. Listen for clues about what a potential client is currently dealing with that is preventing him/her from growing a business. Establish how you can fill this need. Make suggestions about how some of these needs may be handled. What skills and expertise do you have that meets this need?   Know What You Will Bring to The Partnership Prepare and practice a strong statement about the skills and services you can offer. We all have something unique to offer that sets us apart from everyone else; perhaps it’s your organization, your background or even your personality. You will use this concept as the base for other parts of your personal marketing efforts. What Do You Do as a Virtual Assistant? Here are some suggestions for answering the question, “what do you do?”   It’s Best...

Talking With Potential Clients

TIP: Re-read this portion several times and return to re-visit each time you are about to interview your next potential client. People can detect an apparent sales pitch and tend to shy away from the whole confrontation. The best way to dispel this illusion is to relax.  Take a sincere interest in learning about the other person and enjoy learning about that person. Look at meetings you attend as a fun occasion; one in which you will meet a new friend. You will want to learn about the needs of the other person. Remember to listen to the person and not go overboard with explanations about VAing. It is best to not view the conversation as a sale, but rather the beginning of a possible partnership. The sale should come to you. It’s okay to suggest that perhaps a VA partnership might be just what this person is looking for to satisfy those needs discussed. If a person wants to learn more about what you can do for him/her, the conversation will come around to it.  Show confidence in yourself and extend that confidence to your contact that VAing works and that being a VA is comfortable and right for you. Make a list of the things you will not do and do not compromise your Virtual Assistant venture by agreeing to tasks that are not fun for you. Do not accept projects that you cannot handle or are uncomfortable with or you do not have the knowledge or resources for. Be honest with yourself and your potential client. On your worksheet, list the things you WILL NOT DO....

Helping Others Understand The VA Concept

Helping Others Understand the VA Concept The language of VAing is still Greek to many people. We need to be patient and help people to understand the VA concept…saying it straight, eliminating unnecessary jargon and being heard crystal clear. Sharing the language of VAing with your prospects and clients gives them and the VA process the gifts of meaning and structure.   Design Your Own Flyer, Brochure or Postcard – if you’ve already designed one, get it out and reconsider what you’ve designed.   Ask several people to explain back to you what they think VAing is based on your description, your flyer, your brochure and your postcard. Have them look at your web site and ask them if they understand what you are doing. If they do not, you will need to create a clearer view of being a Virtual Assistant.   Help to Understand What VAing is About?  A professional providing services to another professional  Obtaining results and making your client amore productive  Increasing the bottom line for you and your client Moving the client’s business forward (their objectives become your objectives) Developing strengths and skills Making your client look and feel good Being proactive   How Do VA s Help Clients? Focus their energies on their core business Encourage delegation By giving technical support By being a sounding board By providing ideas By bringing another set of skills into their business Create strategies Work out a time line for...

What Should YOU, as a VA, Expect From Your Client?

Remember, this is a partnership – a two-way street. You should expect to be treated as an important part of your client’s business. Trust Honesty Communication Response to requests Fair compensation paid on time Understand that being a VA is an independent business Enthusiasm about the partnership A successful, professional, business person...

Now the Marketing Part – Observe and Be Available

Always observe your surroundings and find places to share your story. Work on the many ways to put yourself in front of your prospects by getting out and getting noticed. If you start now, you can more than quadruple the number of people who are aware of your services in less than a year. Begin thinking “out of the box” about how to and where to share your story. There is much value in speaking in public, joining groups and establishing a contact data base, and, of course, use social media.   Send a Warm Letter   Send a letter out to contacts that you already know. Follow up in one week with a phone call and invite people to join you for a conversation about your services. Below are two sample letter ideas. Once you have been in practice a few months, write an ‘update letter’ of how your practice has grown or new services that you provide.   It’s best to put these letters together using your own words so that you can verbally give a feel of your personality. A big key to a successful VA partnership is a good rapport. Good rapport begins by understanding each others personality. I’ve only provided ideas here. You need to fill in the blanks. These people want to know you, not me!! Warm Letter Example #1   Paragraph 1: Explain why you are sending the letter. I am sending you this letter….. Why are you qualified? What skills and background do you think enabled you to begin a VA practice?   Paragraph 2: What is VAing? How does a...

Where and How to Find Clients

First and foremost, talk about what you are doing with everyone...practice your short introduction. Don’t forget to mention past employers and people you have worked for. Internet – visit various VA websites and post your information and join discussion groups. Review the section: Suggestions for Beginning Your Business. Be sure to have your own web site and exchange links with other VAs or sites that accept reciprocal links and that are closing related to either helping entrepreneurs, creating successful businesses, and Virtual Assistant Directories.  Post your resume on the Internet classifieds and VA organizational sites. Also, occasionally, you can place your information on employment sites You or a prospect invites the other to sit down and talk or have a teleconference about VAing. This is a great approach for you to select your ideal client and invite them to partner with you.  When you know your niche, find someone living in that niche. Find out what their needs are and how they could best benefit from a VA partnership. You may just be what they are looking for or have a referral for you. Mutual discovery during a meeting with the members of networking or business group you belong to. Here is the place to practice your message.  When making orders for anything, be sure to include your title as part of the ship to address. I recently attracted a client when ordering wine! Attract attention by adding value to every business and personal relationship you have. Give a little extra. Become VERY active on your FaceBook and LinkedIn accounts – tell everyone you know what you are doing...

Welcoming Your New Clients Into Your Practice

Once you have successfully attracted a new client, you will want to formally welcome your client into your practice. It is important to gather as much information about that client as possible without making it a task for your client.   I suggest that first you have a lengthy phone or email conversation asking the following questions to get started:   Be sure to know the name your client prefers to use and the correct spelling Your client’s email address Your client’s website address Business name and address Business phone numbers, including cell phone, business phone number, fax number The best time to call if you have questions about a project Immediate priorities Date to expect initial information for the project and when you will begin projects Agree upon the hourly rate and confirm Discuss the billing plan and due date for invoices you send Discuss the number of hours your client would like you to spend on his/her projects per month If you will be making travel arrangements, ask about preferences for airlines, hotels and rental cars.   Worksheet – Your New Client   Client’s Name: _____________________________________________________   Email address: _____________________________________________________   Website address:____________________________________________________   Business name: ____________________________________________________   Business phone number: _____________________________________________   Business fax number: _______________________________________________   Mobile phone number: _______________________________________________   Business address: __________________________________________________   Home address:_____________________________________________________   Home phone number: _______________________________________________   The best time to call if you have questions about a project: _________________   Number of hours your client would like you to spend on his/her projects per month:  __________________________________   Hourly rate / Retainer rate / Retainer hours: _____________________________   Billing...

VA Skills Set Above Your Technical Skills While Working With Your New Client

The critical need of each potential client is to be understood and to have trust in you. Our clients and prospects expect us to ask questions and to be clear about their needs. VA skills, each in their own way, assist you in understanding your client’s needs and your client needs to know he/she is being understood.   Listen – listening to your client is one of the greatest gifts that you will give them. Ask questions, lots of questions to make sure you understand what it is your prospective client or client wants to know or you to do. Repeat back to your client what you thought you heard. Your job is to uncover what your client’s needs are. Help your clients “shake the dust off” what is really needed by making inquiries. If there is a schedule conflict, inform your client immediately and give them a time when the project will be completed. If you say it will be done, get it done on time or earlier. If you have a problem completing the task, inform your client. If you don’t know how to do a project, tell your client, and suggest another resource or suggest that you will learn. Offer an alternative resource. If you are going to be out for the day, let your client know ahead of time.   Create trust by going digital Action eMail Signatures   This is an easy one and very effective. Just add contact information and/or a brief promotional message to the signature of your emails.   Mine looks like this:   Kathy Sparks, Professional Virtual Assistant Online Business...

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Become a VA

The Virtual Assistant: A Guide to Creating, Filling & Sustaining Your Virtual Assistant Practice