If you’re overwhelmed with your workload or need more time to focus on what you love and what you do best, a virtual assistant can be worth their weight in gold. We can save you time, save you money, grow your business, dig you out of a hole and take enormous weights off your mind….but even the most evolved of us can’t actually READ your mind (yet). So, if you’re going to enlist the help of a VA, it’s really important that you communicate your expectations clearly from the beginning and pay attention to the etiquette required to work successfully with a remote freelancer. This will pave the way for a working relationship that is straightforward, productive and positive.
Working Time Exceptions
Working with a VA means they are sometimes available to work non-traditional hours, but expecting them to be available to you 24/7 is unreasonable and, well, a bit silly. Take the time – at the outset – to have a two-way, open and honest discussion about how many hours you will require and when they will be available to carry out work, respond to emails and take calls. Get a clear understanding of what their “office hours” are, and respect their time. Bear in mind that your VA may be working with other clients and that they also have a life – and probably a family – outside of work too.
Be realistic and reasonable about the timeframe in which you expect them to respond to you and communicate with you: should they reply to emails a couple of times a day? Are there any days when they won’t be in touch with you at all? Above all, be CLEAR about what you expect; don’t be vague (“just do it when you can” or “there’s no hurry”) if you want something done by a certain date or time. And don’t make a habit of leaving things until the last minute because the quality of your VA’s work depends upon planning and preparation.
As your relationship grows, your VA may give you more time and be happy to do some work outside of their normal hours, and that’s great, as long as you don’t take it for granted and expect that it will happen all the time.
Being a VA isn’t a hobby, it’s a job, and your VA will have overheads and running costs including data protection, insurance etc. All of this will be factored into their hourly rate or daily fee – it’s not a figure plucked out of thin air, so be cautious about asking for reductions. In the same way that you choose to work with clients who don’t barter and haggle over your prices – because they value and respect the work you do and the quality of your products or services – so too should you be aware of the value of your VA’s time and services.
Help them to grow
If you’re happy with the work your VA is doing, don’t be afraid to promote and endorse your VA online and through word of mouth. Successful people build each other up and help each other to grow and the more you respect, admire and encourage them as a business owner in their own right, the more your relationship will expand and flourish. They won’t abandon you for other clients, and helping them to work with other business owners will open them up to experiences and networks in other industries and sectors, which can be used to your benefit when they help you to brainstorm and grow your business.
Trying to keep a good VA all to yourself is counter-productive – you want them to thrive and be successful –so write testimonials and recommendations to endorse them on LinkedIn, give them something they can share on their website, and tell people about how capable they are. After all, it’s good to share, and supporting others just makes the world that little bit better, doesn’t it?
They are a crucial part of your business
A good VA can become a trusted and highly valuable business partner, bringing a diverse and often unexpected skillset to the table. But you’ll never harness the real benefits unless you give them the opportunity, space and invitation to share their ideas and talents with you. Rather than just using them on a task-to-task basis, invite them to brainstorm. This way, they can add increased value to your business. Don’t forget, they want your business to succeed as much as their own. They are part of your team and they will be promoting your business and services when they are networking and connecting in different circles. Let them shine, and you might be surprised by what you’ll learn from them!
So if you want to enjoy the enormous benefits of a working with a VA, make sure you set out your stall clearly and unambiguously from the off: it’s all about transparency, respect, understanding and appreciation. What you put in to the relationship will hugely determine what you get out of it, so don’t hold back on the encouragement, the honesty, the commendations. Be reasonable and supportive, boost their growth and let them flourish and your business will flourish too.
What else have you experienced with your VA?