The Importance Of Virtual Communication
Effective communication is one of the most important life skills that we can learn, yet one we don’t usually put a lot of effort into.
Learning how to improve communication skills is an ongoing process that should grow and develop continuously instead of remaining static throughout our lives.
As the world becomes more dependent on the internet and other global platforms communication is vital. For virtual teams, communication is even more critical and even more difficult. The very first, and most important thing to understand is that there is a big difference between virtual communication and office interactions. In the absence of facial expressions, body language and voice signals, your underlying meaning is not always clear.
As with most tasks in life, the essential part of any client/Virtual Assistant relationship is communication. You cannot get tasks completed, and goals achieved, without constant communication.
Communication is key to any relationship, but communication with your VA is vital to ensuring success. In order to develop a productive partnership with your Virtual Assistant, communication will be the key element for success. Opening up the lines of communication should work from both sides.
What Is Virtual Communication?
We define virtual communication as a mode of communication that includes the use of technology – audio and video to communicate with people who are not physically present in front of us.
Effective virtual communication provides the ability to communicate more efficiently and quickly. A successful and effective outcome of virtual communication includes a message that is clearly sent via technology and accurately received by another person.
The intention of effective virtual communication is to accurately send a message using technology that is received by the recipient in an understandable way. Virtual communication is only considered effective when the message is both sent and received with clarity.
With so many options of virtual communication tools available, it definitely makes our lives easier. Nowadays, the ability of communicating virtually and instantly or sharing our information in seconds is very crucial. Effective virtual communication comes in different forms, the internet is the largest component in virtual communication. Here are some example of platforms to communicate or share content.
- Google Drive
Managing time – especially across multiple time zones
When you are communicating across time zones, it’s important to put systems in place that suit both sides. Virtual Assistants generally work at the convenience of their clients, making the time factor less important.
Learning verbal communication skills can’t help but will improve our written and digital communications because we develop a better understanding of what people are trying to convey even in short messages.
It is no doubt that communication plays a vital role in human life. It not only helps to facilitate the process of sharing information and knowledge, but also helps people to develop relationships with others. Therefore, the importance of communication cannot be underestimated.
“THE WAY WE COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS AND WITH OURSELVES ULTIMATELY DETERMINES THE QUALITY OF OUR LIVES” ~ ANTHONY ROBBINS
What does it mean to be productive? The word productive is often described as a person’s capability to do a lot of work successfully. How can we maximize our productivity in our careers? Nowadays, the most common answer would be through the utilization of a Project Management Tool.
What is the best suited software for you? A popular comparison would be of Asana verse Monday.com, which are both powerful Project Management Tools. Asana can be described as a simple, more traditional approach and better suited for small to medium sized businesses, while Monday.com is a more sophisticated, detailed option and better suited for medium sized businesses. By comparing the core features of each tool, it will allow you to select the best option for you and your team.
This can be the ultimate deciding factor and the fuel behind your system of choice; Asana is free for up to fifteen team members per a project and would require an upgrade to a paid plan to make use of certain features. Monday.com offers a free fourteen-day trial and then the option to purchase the basic plan at $39 USD per month. Asana is slightly pricier than Monday.com when comparing the paid plans but it does offer the option of a free plan and not only a trial.
Task Management is achieved by setting tasks with deadlines and then meeting the set deadlines. Asana allows you to create a task, name the task and then assign it either to yourself or a team member, accompanied with a deadline. By clicking on the task, it will expand to show you more detail, you can comment mentioning team members and attach documents or links used to collaborate. Asana displays tasks that are due soon in the ‘Home Section’, and you can see a complete list of all tasks assigned to you by viewing ‘My Tasks’. Monday.com refers to tasks as “Pulses”, you can name the Pulse, assign it to a team member, set its status and make it dependent on other Pulses. Asana has a basic and to the point task management method, while Monday.com has room for customization.
Optimization of your company’s business processes through automation includes mapping, planning and coordinating all parts of your business structure. Workflow in Asana is created through views such as lists, Kanban boards, calendar and timeline formats. Monday.com operates in a similar way, it allows you to see different visualizations for Pulses without having to switch between browser tabs. Monday.com shows a list view of your Pulses with a mini progress bar for each one, it also shows the visualization of your choice in the section above the fold. You can change the Pulse statuses in Monday.com using a drop-down menu in the list section, you can stretch and shrink Pulses in the timeline view or drag-and-drop cards in the Kanban board. Monday.com gives you more freedom to customize your workflow than the traditional approach of Asana.
Communication is a key factor to a successful team; a team must establish communication standards and a shared task management system contributes to those standards. Asana gives you the option to comment at task, project and team levels and Monday.com only lets you comment on tasks. Asana allows communication between your team in various ways, you can comment directly on a task or start a conversation in a dedicated window within a project. If you have a team page, you can host team discussions and post announcements on one dedicated page. The inbox keeps track of all communication, alerting you when a conversation has started, when you are mentioned in a comment or when a team member prompts interaction. Monday.com offers one way to communicate with your team and that is at task level. When you click a task in a project, a window will open, and this is where you can leave update. Here is where you can leave comments, mention other users, add GIFs or attach files and links. Monday.com offers the use of an inbox, that will display all communication on the subscribed boards, even if you are not assigned to an item or mentioned in a comment.
Integration is a method of coordination that allows various software systems to work together. Asana offers over 100 integrations from Dropbox to Slack. Monday.com does not match that number. The the integrations offered by Monday.com are useful, though this feature is dependent on each individual business and will depend on your preference. Asana is a clear leader in integration.
What is the best Project Management Tool for me as a Virtual Assistant? My conclusion and chosen tool of productivity is Asana, simple is better.
There seems to be a continuous divide when it comes to developing sales strategies, especially deciding on whether to stick to the classic method of face-to-face direct sales or joining the revolution of going full virtual. This time last year, I was waking up at the crack of dawn to brace the Johannesburg morning rush to get to my first client meeting in Pretoria. Today, I am working virtually for an American company. My first Zoom meeting is at 3 p.m., which is 8 a.m. Central Time Zone in Tennessee. I have gone from meeting clients in person every day, to calling and emailing them. Building virtual relationships with the time difference has been quite an adjustment, but I am enjoying not having to sit in traffic for hours. As someone with experience on both sides, this is my take on the two strategies.
The way I distinguish virtual from direct sales would be quality versus quantity.
Direct Sales – Quality
Direct sales would be the quality approach. The focus is on face-to-face interactions. The value of the relationship between business and client is heightened because of the personal bond created. The client’s trust is built on meetings where informal conversations can lead to a higher chance of client retention. Even if the number of clients reached is considerably lower, because of the time taken to build the relationship.
Virtual Sales – Quantity
Virtual sales would be the quantity approach due to the access to a larger spectrum of potential clients from various industries, and the ease of contact via electronic platforms i.e. email. It is a great way to determine which industries to target and eliminate the ones that do not bring in positive metrics or sales. However, maintaining good relationships with clients can be difficult because of not having the face-to-face factor, and managing a concentrated customer base can create a lower chance of client retention.
To further differentiate the two sales strategies, I will use the 4 A’s model: Acceptability, Accessibility, Affordability, Awareness, and the selling of sweaters as an example for each.
4 A’s Model
- Acceptability – Why should customers buy our sweaters? Are they priced according to the quality we are offering? This component can be used in the sales pitch to potential customers.
- Accessibility – Ensuring the store is stocked up with sweaters and positioned where customers can easily see and reach them.
- Affordability – Are our sweaters priced to attract our target markets? How are the sweaters priced against competitors at stores nearby?
- Awareness – Can customers see that we sell sweaters in our store? Are they visible on mannequins in the display window? Do we have a sign?
- Acceptability – Why should customers buy our sweaters? Are they priced according to the quality we are offering? This component can be used in the product title and description on the website.
- Accessibility – Having a website that is easy to navigate, and mobile phone optimised, so customers can effortlessly buy sweaters from any device.
- Affordability – Are our sweaters priced to attract the desired target markets? How are sweaters on competitors’ websites priced?
- Awareness – An email campaign, targeted at a group of potential customers to inform them about our brand of sweaters.
We can see from this, that the mechanisms of the 4 A’s in both approaches often coincide and have similarities.
Overall, a combined approach of both sales strategies would, in my view, be the most beneficial. This should be based on your company’s goals and objectives, amidst these uncertain times. Adapting to the current climate and adopting a sales process that not only protects your team, but also grows your business, is essential.
I have been in a fortunate position to have been able to resign from my job and go and travel. Look, it isn’t the easiest thing to do, as it takes months and even years to plan. But it is something that I would highly recommend everyone does. Take the plunge and forget about having to sit in the traffic to get to a desk you will sit behind for 8 hours, only to get back in your car to sit in some more traffic.
Why take a sabbatical?
Why would anyone want to leave their stable job with regular income? Everyone asks, “Aren’t you scared to leave your stable job?”. Yes, it is scary to think of, but you will not have any regrets. So many people are planning and saving for their retirement, wanting to go travel only then. But realistically, would you be physically fit to do a 21km roundtrip hike to see the infamous Trolltunga in Norway, or volunteer to help build a new cattery in Sweden, at the age of 65?
A misconception for quitting your job to go travelling is that it’s expensive. It can work out cheaper than your normal day to day life with an office job. You don’t have any rent to pay or other major bills to pay. If you are smart, you can find places where you can volunteer and in return, you get accommodation and food during your stay. Volunteering can be very rewarding, and one can learn so many new skills as part of the experience.
Planning for a once in a lifetime experience
Taking time off to go and travel for a few months is not something you can just plan for a month in advance. It takes months or even years of working extra hard to earn money to save. One must cut all costs to save every penny. It’s even saying no to Friday night drinks with your friends because you need to save. Every penny counts, and it is worth it when you finally get on that plane for the adventure of a lifetime.
You don’t have to plan every single move; you can just go with the flow. Depending on your passport, you may have limited time in the country. You can have a rough idea of your trip, but it does have to be cast in stone. You may find that you love the south of France and want to stay an extra few weeks.
Nothing ‘adventured’; nothing gained
Experiencing a new culture or ticking off the hot air balloon ride that was on your bucket list can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have, and you will carry that experience with you for life. You learn new things every day, things that you will never be able to learn by sitting at your desk doing your 8 – 5 office job. Like stumbling across a Spanish fiesta in a small coastal town and being the only English-speaking person in the crowd, but you will have one of the best nights of your life. You will also meet some really interesting people and make lifelong friends.
Be adventurous! And take the plunge – you will not regret it.
Something we all tend to talk about easily but not always “do it”. It’s easier to tell someone else that they should push their boundaries BUT when it comes to yourself, we struggle…. Well sometimes I do.
“The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment.” -~Pema Chodron
These past few months, I’ve been focusing on educating myself more to be able to do my own thing. When I left my full-time job to be with my son, I had this mind set of where I wanted to be and what to do other than must being a stay-at-home mom. Life happened and things didn’t turn out exactly as I wanted but I’m okay with it, I am happy. I still haven’t educated myself as much as I expected…not at all.
At first this wasn’t so easy, I was scared – I mean, I was in a comfort zone. I had a stable job, stable income and left it for the exact opposite.I left all of this to do what I always dreamed of for a complete unknown territory. This would be the second time in my life I had this opportunity.
The first time I was too afraid to do something on my own, to step out of my comfort zone, so I said no. It was a year later where the opportunity approached me again, and I realised that I had to step out of my comfort zone. I had to give it a try, or I will regret it for the rest of my life.
After a few weeks passed I realised that, my new “environment” had so much more to offer. AND that yes, this is unknown and completely out of my own comfort zone, that I might not do everything I planned but that whatever I get done will be good enough. It was only two weeks until I had enough clients/projects lined up to be more than okay. My son was happy & healthy to be with me at home.
I suspect I didn’t do as well as I wanted to with studying and educating myself because my head wasn’t in the right place. However, my mentality has since changed, and I now find my success from setting my own boundaries – or to set fewer boundaries.
I found that defining to large goals and targets detracts from what you really set out to do. The goals I set for myself in this unknown world – to be a full-time mom, to work all day, be a homemaker AND to study – weren’t achievable.
So, today – don’t set “permanent” goals. I have a rough idea in mind, the results to be outstanding. “There are no limits to your potential achievements.”
In my opinion, push the boundaries, by not making any OR if you have them – they need to be flexible in changing circumstance. Just put in all the energy and effort you can without exhausting your other responsibilities. You will create a sense of inner self-satisfaction AND never be too hard on yourself.
You will regret not trying something, but you will never regret doing something out of your comfort zone that can be good for you!
It’s no secret that 2020 has been a year of craziness to the max and I am sure we are all looking forward to seeing the back of it as we whizz through the last few months of this year. In saying that, you may be looking at ways to bring your business to the next level in 2021 (or maybe you are still ready to go ahead with your goals and see them through to the end of this year). Whatever you are deciding, are you ready to think out of the box?
I am referring to Vision Boards.
Have you heard of them? Do you have one? Have you ever used one or at least entertained the thought of using one? You may be wondering, “How can a vision board help me grow my business?” – keep on reading and I will tell you.
What are vision boards?
As always I would like to break down what a vision board actually is before we look at why you should have one and how it will assist you in your business.
Vision boards have come a far way. They were used in ancient times to almost “predict” the future of young royals and to create a pathway to greatness. Now you may not a royal destined for the throne, but you are a person destined for greatness. You are a person destined to have success in life, especially if you own a business.
Vision boards are there to make your goal more visible. To give yourself more clarity on what it is you wish to achieve. Your goal and your vision may change as your circumstances change, and that is fine, you can change your vision board as you see fit.
So in short, a vision board is a collection of images and phrases which are relevant to your business or personal goals. It helps you to stay accountable and to stay on track in order to bring your vision to life.
Factors to creating a great vision board
When you start creating a vision board there are a few things you should take into consideration so that you make sure you have a board that truly reflects you and your business goals. Here are some of them below:
- Clarity – You need a clear vision of what you want to achieve.
- Get out of your comfort zone – Do not give yourself goals you know are easily attainable. You need to reach higher, go further and challenge yourself in order to be successful – so make goals that will require a little more effort to achieve.
- Be committed – Make sure that you are ready to put in the work to reach your goals and to make your vision come to life.
- Be reasonable – Yes, you need to challenge yourself and your goals should not be easy-peasy to reach, but you also need to make sure you give yourself enough time and have the resources at hand to reach these challenging goals.
Once you have all of these things in place you can get started with actually creating your board.
Creating your vision board
If you are not too sure where to start, Pinterest has millions of ideas and you will be spoilt for choice. Here are some of the things you may want to have at hand before you start your vision board project:
- Card paper, pin board, white board
- A collection of magazines (make sure they are ones which are likely to have images that are relevant to your goals)
- Embellishments if you are the creative or blingy type
- You can also have personal photos if they are relevant to your end goal
You will want to clear your head, be in a quiet space and be intentional when choosing the items which will go onto your vision board. DO NOT just go with the images that are pretty or look nice.
Stick them on your board with intention, even use affirmations or mantras while adding them to your board. Make it more real for yourself. Feel like you are achieving the goals one by one as you stick each image or phrase on your board.
The last step – place your vision board in a place where you will see it often through the day. The best would be to see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night – maybe make two, keep one in the office and one at home.
The more you see it the more accountable you will be to MAKE IT HAPPEN. Visual goal setting is highly effective. We are visual beings after all.
Something that is also important to know is that when you create a vision board, do not create a glorified check-list, rather use the time to become aware of where you are now, where you want to go and what you will need to get yourself there. From there you will be able to create a visual masterpiece to keep your mind in the right place and your energy flowing on the right vibration.
To summarize – vision boards are not a new age trend. In fact, many people are adopting the practice of creating a visual goal set if you will. And it is not only for personal use, you can use it to create your business success. Points to remember:
- Stay focused when creating, have relevant goals but also make them challenging. Make yourself step out of your comfort zone – that is when you will truly feel a sense of achievement.
- Choose images that are projections of where you see your business in the future as well as what will help get you there.
- Lastly, make sure you see it every day, even a few times a day, look at it, feel it, believe it. Make it yours!
Are you ready to leave this year behind you and look toward the future with your vision board?
Excellent! See you on the other side.