Becoming a virtual assistant is a lot of hard work because it’s a lot more than just assisting something with their business. It means understanding how to communicate with clients and manage time effectively. It’s also about having a specific skill set to get tasks done and answer questions as they arise. Even though it’s challenging making a living online doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Learn many skills through experience and attend our free webinar training, which can give you a headstart on how to set up a successful online business. It also helps VA’s become more familiar with using the Internet to make money!! Are you curious what type of traits companies look for when they’d like to hire a virtual assistant? Here are 8 traits that are especially important.
Time management can get tricky when you’re a virtual assistant, which is why it may take some experimenting to figure out what works best for you. As the blogger on Desire to Done mentions, some people work better in the morning whereas others work better at night. Figure out what works best for you so you can get your work done on time.
Time management is a tricky little fella! It takes practice, tweaking and seeing what works for you.
When you’re a VA you need to learn how to manage your time properly because you’ll be juggling different clients and projects. It means making time to sit down and doing your work, even though you have other non-work related things you want to do (like tidy up the house).
FYI, this is something a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with, including myself. I especially struggled with time management when I became a VA and got really busy, quickly. Again, it takes practice and patience to work it out and of course, tweaking as needed.
It also helps to learn when you’re most productive during your day. For some people this is early in the morning, for others it’s the evening. Whatever you figure out is fine.
That’s one of the great things about being an entrepreneur! You can pretty much choose when you work!
Some days I’m ready to dive into client work right away. Other days I want to work on my own business. Find a system that works for you.
Connected Women adds to Desire to Done’s thoughts on time management:
While research claims that there’s no such thing as multitasking and that you need to set your eyes on one task at a time, VAs must be able to do a lot of things within a day for maximum efficiency. All tasks are equally important and so your VA must have good time management and outstanding organization skills to help you in your business.
Sometimes virtual assistants can make it by teaching themselves the skills they need to make it as a successful VA, but Connected Women argues that other times it’s essential to have the experience. If you think you don't have enough experience, then you should consider an online internship or gain skills doing other positions before leaping into the virtual assistant freelance world full-time.
It’s not enough that your VA should possess praiseworthy traits that are essential in your fulfilling your day-to-day tasks. Your VA should at least have prior experience on the tasks that you would require him/her to do. But if experience doesn’t matter to you and would consider hiring beginner VAs, look for someone who has the eagerness to keep on learning and can guarantee a 100% quality service to your needs.
Follow Through and Follow Up
As a virtual assistant, Entrepreneur recommends following up on a task in a reasonable amount of time. It’s also important to follow through on something you said you would complete and complete it on time.
Stay on top of every task, even when your client doesn’t. Small tasks can often fall through the cracks, but it’s your job not to let that happen. For example, I had a client who needed to approve all bookmarks before I posted them. If I didn’t get approval after two or three days, I’d send her another email with the bookmarks attached saying, “In case you missed these, these bookmarks are awaiting approval.” I did this on more than one occasion, and she even thanked me for keeping her on task.
Entrepreneur mentions being resourceful as a quality a virtual assistant should have. Being resourceful goes the distance when you can adequately answer a client’s questions or, at least, find the answer to their questions promptly.
A valuable virtual assistant is the go-to person for information. You don’t have to know everything about the business, but you need to have a system in place that allows you to find out. This can be as simple as having a specific point of contact at the company that you can go to when you need information. However, once you ask a question, be sure to document it so you don’t have to ask for the same information repeatedly. Being able to answer the majority, if not all, of a client’s basic questions helps make you an irreplaceable part of their team.
The VA Handbook mentions how important it is to manage client expectations. Why is this so essential? A client will look to you for advice and guidance, and it’s up to you to provide helpful information so they can better understand an application or procedure, for example.
You not only need to know your stuff, you have to make sure the client knows that you do. Often a client has never worked with a VA so if you seem hesitant about what you can do and how it all works, then they’re going to seriously doubt your ability to help them.
A new client will probably be looking to you to lead them through the process so you need to know and explain how you work. This mainly comes with experience but practice your new enquiry spiel or do some role plays or even some voluntary work for a business owner you know so you can get a testimonial and do a trial run if you’re worried about this.
You may have to ‘fake it until you make it’ confidence-wise when dealing with a potential client (they’re just another person and won’t bite you), but you do need to have a certain level of self-confidence in yourself when running your own business because your success is totally down to you – and you need to be accountable for that.
Excellent Communication Skills
The VA Handbook says it’s up to you to effectively communicate with your client and keep them updated on projects and tasks. To communicate with your client, you first need to learn their communication style and follow up with them regularly depending on how they would prefer updates (i.e., via email or having a weekly meeting).
Leading on from the first point, you need to let the client know how their work is going, so establish how and when you should update them when they become a client as well as before you begin each new task.
I had one client who liked Friday updates, one who was happy to just let me get on with the task and chuck it into Dropbox when I’m done and another who liked daily feedback.
I updated most clients by email but one preferred private Twitter messages, so ascertain how your clients want to be contacted and how often. If in doubt update the client at the end of each day and if you’re running behind schedule then tell them asap.
If a client is constantly having to chase you for updates then you’re not doing your job properly.
Understand Social Media
Even though virtual assistants aren’t social media experts (or maybe they are!), that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have social media skills. You don’t have to know everything there is about social media, but Small Business Trends recommends at least knowing how a site works and why it’s essential to your client’s business.
If you are hiring someone to, for example, manage your Facebook account, it is important for them to fully understand how the site works. Apart from a comprehensive understanding of Facebook’s functionalities, it’s important to clearly know what it can do for businesses. A good track record will be useful in helping you examine a prospective virtual assistant’s capabilities in performing the job at hand.
Another trait a virtual assistant should have is being detail oriented. As Desire to Done reminds us, when you’re working with a client, they expect you to pay attention to their “baby,” aka their business that they have poured their sweat and tears into!
As a VA, you have to be detail oriented. You are helping clients with their baby. Yes, their baby!
Their business is their breathing, cooing, belching little baby. They are nervous about handing it over to strangers. They’re worried someone won’t treat it as kindly as they do. And they’re afraid someone will make mistakes with their baby.
Handing over work to a VA can make business owners very nervous. They are usually control freaks (I’m not judging, I’m one of them!) so you have to be on point. Make sure you check your work then check it again.
I’ll be honest, I’m not the fastest VA. That’s because I double check and usually triple check my work. Yes, that slows me down at times, but I’m all about quality work, not quantity. My ideal client appreciates this.
It can be scary starting as a virtual assistant, but you don’t have to do it alone. Attend our free webinar training and learn how to leverage your skills as a virtual assistant and make a living working online. It can get challenging, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel! There are always ways to improve your skill set and learn how to make money as a virtual assitant on the web.