How to have a good working relationship with your Virtual Assistant

How to have a good working relationship with your Virtual Assistant

How to have a good working relationship with your Virtual Assistant

Start out with an open mind

If you have never worked with a before, first think of how it can benefit you and your business working this way.  Understand that the transition from having an assistant in your office to working remotely is going to be an adjustment and allow for that.

Communication

Garbled communication produces garbled results and is a huge time waster.  Decide exactly what it is that you want your Virtual Assistant to do and how you will communicate it to him or her in a way that is clearly and easily understood.  Schedule a way of communication that is done daily or weekly as standard and should anything else come up that needs to be dealt with, let your Virtual Assistant know through what means you would prefer communication, be it via phone, WhatsApp, email etc and inform him or her beforehand when you know that you are not going to be available for a period of time.

Delegate

Learn to be a good delegator.  This is sometimes a problem for a start up business that started out with one person making all the decision and doing everything themselves.  Understand that you are working with another individual that possibly doesn’t see everything as you do, so may produce results in a slightly different way than you did.  Take a step back and look at the result from a different perspective and you might be pleasantly surprised to see that the result is better than what you produced originally.

Goals and time management

Let you Virtual Assistant know what is going to be expected of them and what takes priority.  Be realistic in what is expected of him or her within their specified work hours.  Plan ahead of time and set goals for when certain tasks or projects need to be completed by and communicate this clearly.  If something else comes up that needs to be done urgently, realise that there will be a delay in getting other tasks or projects done within the original planned timeframe.

Mutual Respect and Trust

If your Virtual Assistant feels that they are appreciated and respected, they will feel a sense of commitment to you and your business.  Be open to hear other opinions, your idea might not always be the best idea.  Show them that you value their positive input and even constructive criticism. as this will make them feel more part of the team and even more committed to the growth of your business.

Morals and Ethical Practice

If you’re wanting a professional Virtual Assistant to be dedicated and committed to your business, don’t expect him or her to stay if you are in the habit of unethical business practice.  Being clear about what is and what is not acceptable in your business dealings, will remove any grey areas and you will gain your Virtual Assistant’s respect and trust as well as your customer’s.  Be upfront and let your Virtual Assistant know exactly what you and your business stand for before you start your working relationship.

“Honesty is not the best policy, it’s the only policy.” Dr Myles Munroe

Tactics to Positively Overcome the Difficult Client

Tactics to Positively Overcome the Difficult Client

Tactics to Positively Overcome the Difficult Client

Irrespective of what industry you are in, there is always that odd difficult client that as a result of various factors can leave you feeling frustrated, angry, unmotivated and possibly even full of self-doubt.  For some of us, the reaction to a difficult situation can be defensive for others it can be offensive which can have either positive of negative outcomes regardless.

Stepping out of your comfort zone to establish smart habits

The fact remains that there will always be clients that are a little harder to please than others, so the question at hand is, how do you handle those situations in a way that will have a positive outcome for both you and the client? Well, while in my previous role, I had done some research on the topic and I came across an article by Barbara Markway (Ph.D.) who has some excellent insight into handling difficult clients, which I will delve into a little further, but one of the factors she mentions amongst others is going about things in a way that may seem unnatural to you as first. What does this mean? Well simply put, we all have our ways of doing things, and sometimes it works other times it doesn’t but if your finding your not getting the outcome you want from a difficult situation – perhaps its time to step outside your comfort zone, try a new approach and create smart habits.

Some Tactics to be Used with the Client

Out of the many tips given in Barbara’s article, the following tactics on how to handle a difficult client stood out to me:

  1. Listen & Stay Calm. Listening is the number one step in dealing with “unreasonable” people. Everyone wants to feel heard, and although staying calm can be extremely difficult in an emotionally charged situation, real progress can’t take place until the other person feels acknowledged. While you’re listening, really focus on what the other person is saying, not what you want to say next. I have often said to people in the past, “I know your hearing me, but are you listening to me? There is a difference”. Taking the time to really listening to what someone else is saying, can give you a fresh perspective and clarity on a situation at hand.
  2. Reflect respect and dignity toward the other person. You don’t know what the other person is going through. Chances are, if a person is acting unreasonable, they are likely feeling some sort of emotional or mental strain for whichever reason and showing contempt will not help productively resolve the situation.
  3. Saying, “I understand,” usually makes things worse. Instead, say, “Tell me more so I can understand better.” This for me was an interesting point, because I personally have often used the term “I understand” countless times with clients and looking back it wasn’t always well received, looking at this approach has given me a new perspective on how a client would possible react to the situation differently.
  4. Saying, “I’m sorry,” or, “I’m going to try to fix this,” while establishing boundaries can go a long way toward defusing many situations. This tip can be quite difficult to follow when you feel your not the one in the wrong and are feeling defensive. Sometimes by being humble in the situation and saying the words “I’m sorry” or “I’m going to fix this” can completely diffuse a situation, and in turn can give you the opportunity to establish the hidden need.  The client could end up disclosing what they are really trying to gain or avoid within the project/ task and positive outcome can take place for both parties. Having said that, you will also need to assess the situation, while some of the above tips have encouraged listening and letting the angry person vent, you also have the right to be assertive and say, “Please don’t talk to me like that.” if the situation is gets out of hand.

Some Tactics to be Used with Yourself

Handling a difficult client with some of the tactics, may be draining for you which would defeat the purpose of positively overcoming difficult clients, that’s what there are also a few things you should do:

  1. Debrief. After the situation is over, talk to someone about what happened, take 5 minutes to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and just allow yourself to process the situation.
  2. Discharge your own stress. You had to put your natural reactions on hold for a while. Now is the time to discharge some of that pent-up adrenaline. Go for a run. Take your dog for a walk. Don’t let the emotions stay stuck in your body.
  3. Give yourself credit for getting through an uncomfortable situation. It takes a lot of energy not to act like a jerk when someone else is behaving badly. Don’t skip this step!

Positive Outlook, Positive Outcome

Remember these tactics are simply guidelines to help you along the way.  How you implement these tactics is up to you, and maybe they won’t give you a positive outcome every time, but its all about trying and keeping at it until you establish smart habits that work for you. If you do not have the time or cannot see yourself dealing with difficult clients that’s ok, perhaps consider getting a to deal with your Client Relationship Management and can implement strategies for you!  I have seen how these tactics have worked for me, and to this day some of the best connections and relationships that I have established in my career have been as a result of a rocky start with some pretty difficult clients. The key to all of this however is to always have a positive outlook, and having said this I will end with a quote by Lailah Akita “Our reaction to any situation will determine the outcome”

The year that was 2018

The year that was 2018

The year that was 2018

A new year has started, for many, it represents a fresh start, a chance to pursue new opportunities or it may even mean time to finally get training for that big race you’ve always wanted to do. As the saying goes “new year, new beginnings”, and boy are new beginnings exciting! My question however is, have you taken a moment to take a step back in order to reflect on the year that was? To appreciate your successes and be thankful for the obstacles that taught you some great lessons?

Looking back in order to move forward

The minute the clock struck 12h00, on the 31st December 2018, my brain went into automatic mode planning and thinking up all the things I want to get done in this year and I was full of adrenaline, ready to take on 2019. I kept saying to my myself – “This is going to be “my” year”, which considering I am expecting my first child in a couple of months, is already making this
year AMAZING for me. I quickly saw however, I was not alone in saying, this was going to be my year – numerous family and friends shared the same sentiment, combined with the fact they were glad 2018 was over with. This got me thinking was 2018 that bad? I mean, it was the different challenges and life lessons that I experienced in 2018 that had fueled my ambitions
and plans for 2019. I then remembered a quote I had read not so long ago by an unknown author that says “If you want to move forward, often look back. Otherwise, you’ll forget where you came from and where you need to go” Reflecting on 2018
All of this got me thinking, and I decided to take a step back and really reflect on my life during 2018. 2018 had started off quite roughly with my fiance being hospitalized for a lengthy period of time, I was in a work environment that I did not enjoy, was in over my head with assignments due for varsity and was planning a wedding amongst other things – a true mix of highs and lows.

Giving new perspective on life

But looking at all of this carefully, these very things that had me experience a mixture of emotions both negative and positive, turned out to be the best possible things that could have happened to me in 2018. Why? Well, On the 14th April 2018, the most beautiful and magical day of my life thus far surrounded by the people that mean the world me, I married my best friend. My now husband who thankfully is back to full health, learned to take a step back every now and then, now lives by the motto YOLO – you only live once, something that rubbed off on me. His new outlook on things gave me the courage to make the changes I wanted to make in my career, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur but was always too scared to take the risk, in
June, I took that risk and even though it’s been challenging, I am now my own boss, doing what I love daily. The hard work on my studies during the year last year will allow me to make my dream of graduating this year a reality. Above all, I rediscovered the power of faith & gratitude and how lucky I am to have the family and quality of friends I do in my life.

Grateful and Blessed

Personally, I am glad I reflected back on the amazing year that was 2018, I am so grateful for all the lessons and blessings I received during the year. Looking forward to 2019, I know I am going into it a stronger, happier, healthier and humbler person and for that, I say thank you to the year that was 2018.

Being a Virtual Assistant. This is my Why…

Being a Virtual Assistant. This is my Why…

Being a . This is my Why…

What is a Virtual Assistant

According to the balance small business website, a virtual assistant (VA) is a person who provides support services to other businesses from a remote location. The term originated in the 1990s as the ability to work virtually due to technology improvements, such as high-speed Internet, document sharing, and other advancements, made working remotely a reality.

Virtual assistants are especially in demand by entrepreneurs and online businesses that need help but don’t want to bring on staff in their location. However, many small and mid-size businesses use virtual support, especially for specific tasks such as social media management.

My Why…

Earlier in 2018, I decided to kick the corporate bucket and venture on a solo career path.  I just didn’t know what I was going to do though.  It wasn’t the first time I’d tried my hand at entrepreneurship either.  No, I’m a sucker for pursuing my goals, hopes and dreams.  Have I failed and bumped my head?  You better believe I have.  Has my confidence wavered?  Oh yes, many times. It still does. I have days when I sit back and question my choice, but usually, it takes a drive during peak hour traffic to reaffirm my belief in what I’m doing.

I knew I had to change what I was doing.  There were a few personal reasons for my decision but the main driving force for me is the fact that misogyny is still rife in the workplace.  This is a global phenomenon and a topic not discussed openly for fear of reprisal.

Working hard, long hours has always been a trait I’m proud of, but, as I approach my 50’s, I don’t gel with the rules.  Not that I really embraced these to begin with.  Boundaries create security, this is psychology 101 – but micromanagement and a draconian, authoritarian management style is on another level.  One I don’t tolerate.  Perhaps it’s just my personality, but I have a visceral dislike toward those who deploy this management style.  Nor do I take kindly to whipper snapper millennials boasting their degrees and exploiting others, especially mature women in the workplace.  Don’t get me wrong, I respect the fact that people work hard to attain their degrees.  Point is, it does not entitle belligerence.

I am pleased to observe on many company websites, particularly the UK based companies that the gender pay gap is being addressed.  These modern companies are also addressing their menopause policy for their mature female employees.  This is liberating and makes us ‘oldies’ feel appreciated and still worthwhile in the office and not maligned for being female.

As I was planning my exit strategy, I researched online work opportunities.  I wasn’t overly enthused at the ‘genuine’ options I found.  Seems there’s many a scam artist out there preying on desperate and vulnerable job seekers.  Scrolling through Google I saw the term virtual assistant.  Intrigued, I read on.  Yes!  This was for me and rest as the saying goes, is history.

Another important factor that influenced my decision is my teenage son.  It’s reassuring for mums of small children to be at home.  Unfortunately, there’s not too many half day positions available and mums are forced to either take a pay cut, opt to work from home or find full time employment and utilise the primary school after-care facility.  The assumption is high school kids have it all figured out and cope on their own in the afternoons.  This is not the situation and left to their own devices, teens tend to not be as studious as we’d like them to be. Boys tend to take advantage of this fact…  To this I can attest.

Where to from here

Setting up shop is not easy, and it’s become a competitive work arena out there.  If starting and running a business is such a simple feat, everyone would be an entrepreneur.  When I started out, I floundered for a while and was startled at my lack of up to date techie experience.  This from someone who completed their A+, advanced networking and MCSE in the early 90’s.  A lot has changed, and it can be daunting!

I wasn’t and am not deterred to work for myself and on my own.  As a Virtual Assistant, you cannot offer everything skills wise and there will always be other VA’s who offer more than you do and are better at a task than you are.  It’s about streamlining your skills and finding your niche.  If you don’t know something, say so.  But, turn your not knowing into a positive and learn how to do the task.  There are many online resources to be researched and honing your skills is do-able, without breaking the proverbial bank.

Be honest and upfront with your client and with yourself.  It’s no use struggling to fulfill a task or commitment you know full well won’t be done correctly.  The concept of working online requires open communication channels and engaging regularly with your client or clients.  Learn to manage your time.  When you’re on the clock and responsible for task management and key deliverables, you quickly realize how valuable time is.  There’s no chatting with colleagues round the coffee station or checking your social media profiles.  Accountability is tantamount.

Being on the cutting edge of technology and offering a bespoke service will ensure the global Virtual Assistant market succeeds.  This is an exciting career path and the industry is set to grow, exponentially so.

Follow these great benefits to improve your blogging

Follow these great benefits to improve your blogging

Follow these great benefits to improve your blogging

Blogging can help drive internet traffic to your website. A blog gives you the chance to create original and relevant content to your customers, which can be a tactic to drive traffic to your website.

Blogging also helps your SEO or Search Engine Optimization. By consistently putting out new content in your blogs, you boost your rankings in different search engines, making you and your business more visible on the internet. You can also include various keywords, topics, and categories that you want to be found with your business when you write your blog. That way, when someone searches something related to that word or phrase, you will come up in earlier in search engines.

Blogs are no longer just an expression of an individual or a platform to share one’s ideas and thoughts. Blogs have started to be one of the most influential and useful tools in the market space. It’s an excellent way to showcase thought leadership as well as keep consumers updated on what’s happening in the company

Companies that maintain a blog seek:

  • Brand awareness and visibility
  • Authority and trustworthiness
  • Site traffic and higher SEO ranking
  • Leads and sales

The 4 benefits of blogging

  1. Blogging drives traffic to your website

The content you create for your blog can be shared on all your social media platforms. If it’s good-quality, valuable information, people will be encouraged to click through to your website to learn more about your products and services.

  1. Blogging can increase your SEO

If you use keywords in your blog posts, you can enhance your organic search results. Search engines use content to help them determine the subject of web pages. By continually adding fresh content to your site, you make it easier for these search engines to index your page correctly.

  1. Blogging establishes you as an industry authority

Sharing industry information with your customers is the perfect way to demonstrate    your knowledge and skills. It sets you up as a leader in your field while giving you the opportunity to market your product or service in a subtle way. With a blog post you can simultaneously educate your customers and provide them with useful information about your business.

  1. Blogging helps you build a community

Your blog provides your customers with a place to ask questions, share opinions and         engage with you. This makes it the ideal place to build a loyal following. All the comments remain on your site permanently, which means that new visitors will be able to see them. Compare this to social media where any posts or comments are quickly lost in the ever changing newsfeed.

Conclusion

A blog is much more than a way to share information and ideas. It is also a marketing tool and a very powerful one at that.  If you have yet to start a blog, it’s never too late to get started.  There’s really no excuse why you shouldn’t start one today, whether it’s a business, corporate, or a personal blog.  Somewhere out there, someone is waiting to hear from you.