Consider giving yourself a special treat this season; you deserve it.
I'm not talking about a new gadget from Best Buy or your latest
must-have find while you were out window shopping. I'm talking about
giving yourself the gift of time.
much as we try to conquer the world on our own, we often wish we had a
clone to do the rest while we do what we do best. This time of the year
is especially easy to become overworked and overwhelmed managing our
daily grind. Don't get lost in the hustle and bustle, invest in a
virtual assistant to help you tackle your to-do list one task at a time.
you never worked with a VA (virtual assistant), if you are considering
hiring one, or if you have had a bad experience with one, you
definitely have to read this article to find the perfect, savvy,
tech-friendly, professional virtual assistant in all of cyberspace. Let
the mission begin.
- Assess Your Needs
Before working with a virtual assistant, you should assess all your needs--personal or professional. It is important to develop a to-do list of what needs to be done and what you are willing to delegate to your VA. They can manage your calendar and schedule your meetings.
They can complete your research tasks and data entry.
They can even create an article like this. Intrigued? They can do
virtually anything. Once you develop your list, create concise working instructions ready for your future VA to have a jump-start on all your tasks.
great instructions, your VA can complete virtually any task with
minimal guidance. Based on your list, estimate how much time you will
need your VA each month and what you are willing to pay for their
services. Most VA's require the purchase of a monthly retainer plan.
They typically charge $15-$55/hr and give great discounts if you
require their assistance for more than 10 hours per month. Once you
figure out what needs to be done and how much you are willing to invest
in a virtual assistant, you can begin your search.
- Finding a Virtual Assistant
a virtual assistant is fairly easy; locating a trustworthy, responsible
professional is a task of its own. You have several options when
searching for your right-hand time-saving, productivity-gaining partner.
You can post a free ad on sites like Craigslist, search freelance sites such as Elance, Google the term Virtual Assistant and pick the top three search results, word of mouth, or do like me--tweet about it on Twitter.
very specific about your requirements because virtual assistants all
have different specialties and may not be able to accommodate to your
requests. You don't want to hire a VA who specializes in transcription
for a podcast project--although, you might find one who can handle
both, like mine.
Upon placing your ad or shouting it out on
Twitter, you will instantaneously receive messages from inquiring minds
worldwide. This is when you will begin round one of the elimination
- Qualifying The VA
can easily see which VA's are qualified and would be a great choice or
those that simply won't work. Beware of emails with resumes attached- a VA is your business partner, not your employee and those sending a resume may still be in employee mode.
can always ask for testimonials of their services as you would a lawyer
or marketing consultant. Feel free to ask about their background such
as work experience and education. If you posted an ad asking for very
specific information, the VA should respond answering all your
If they fail to do so, this can translate this and
assume that this VA does not take the time to read basic instructions
and will often forget minor details that contribute to the successful
completion of any task. Also search for grammatical errors, you need a
professional who can effectively write and convey their message in
English. You never know when you may need your VA to write an email on
your behalf; remember to look out for the clues to see if they can
effectively communicate via email.
Once you narrow your
selection, it is time to dig in the details. Most VA's have an online
presence, outlining what they can do, what they have done, and what
they will do for you. You will find tons of clues on their website to
guide you through the round two elimination process. Is their site
polished and professional or does it look like a butchered template
from the '90s seasoned with poor grammar?
It sounds a bit biased
to judge them on their site's appearance, but you have to take into
consideration they are a business owner--their business is your
business. If they have a strong online presence free of inaccuracies
and errors, that clearly indicates they are committed and in this
profession for the long-run. You need to search for a long-term
collaborative partnership in order to fully benefit. Time is money; you
don't have time to repeat this process. That is why it is important to
find a VA that will fit perfectly with your needs.
- Making The Selection
now you should have 3-5 applicants that really stand out like a sore
thumb. Don't let this be a time-consuming selection process--remember,
your goal is to save time. Contact the applicants and arrange for a
Look for more clues such as the
response time to answer your email. If they take a while to respond,
more than likely they have a full plate with more than they can chew.
Most consultations are conducted over the phone, chances are you may
never meet your virtual assistant face-to-face.
When speaking to
your VA, this is where the magic takes place in finalizing your
selection process. Remember, always look for clues. Did your VA speak
with confidence and have great phone etiquette? Were they timely and
prepared for the call? Were they able to guide you through the phone
chat and initiate the conversation? Did you feel a sense of trust and
chemistry? Did the VA listen carefully and show interest in what you do
by asking smart questions?
You need a VA who demonstrates great
skills and a strong business sense so they can manage your workload
effectively. After the consultations, you should have the details in
order to make your decision.
- Finalizing The Contract
you finally choose your savvy virtual assistant that compliments your
budget and your day-to-day needs, it is time to get the ball on the
roll. Contact your VA and let them know it is a go. If you need their
services on a long-term basis, negotiate contract details such as
billing, terms of service, and privacy.
Once the document is
signed by you and your VA, you are good to go. Be sure to clearly
indicate your requirements and never leave room for assumptions. Your
VA is your partner and their goal is to help you save time. It will
take time to adjust but if you plan accordingly the delegation process
should be a easy as 1-2-3.
First assign the task(s) including
all information and clear and concise instructions that will contribute
towards the success of the project. Be sure to indicate your
deadlines--most VA's need a 24-48 time frame to complete assignments so
once again, plan accordingly. Also include your time zone to ensure a
timely delivery. Provide your contact information and indicate the best
way to contact you. Once you delegate the work, the VA will begin the
task and update you of the status.
Lastly, the work gets done
and you didn't have to do it. It feels great when you actually have
time for yourself. Maybe with the extra time you have created by
working with a VA, you can plan for that much needed vacation--Oh,
wait. Your VA can do that for you too!