Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Importance of Client Consultation

Today I have an article from a successful UK based Virtual Assistant
When I first started out as a virtual assistant, more years ago than I care to remember, there weren’t many other VA’s around and therefore not much competition. Nowadays, a sizeable proportion of the clients I take on have worked with at least one other VA in the past. When I ask what differences they notice between how we work and what they have experienced in the past, it is often commented on that what they like more than anything is that we work as a partnership with our clients, being proactive in their businesses and looking for opportunities for them and suggesting ideas, as opposed to those VAs that just sit and wait for work to be delegated to them.

So how do we achieve that distinction? Part of it is the mindset. When you make the leap from being an employee to a sole trader or business owner you will quickly realise that if you sit around and wait for work to be delegated, you won’t get very much of it. At that point you learn to make yourself an active member of your clients ‘team’ very quickly or you will soon start to flounder.

To give a great impression straight away it’s important to ask the right questions at the first meeting with your potential client, before they sign up. You need to ascertain where you can be most useful to them. What are their weak points? What work they have to do that they continually put off either because there is no time or because they don’t enjoy it? Find out what their plans are for their business. What do they want to achieve?

Once the client has come onboard you need to maintain the momentum with scheduled meetings as an ongoing process both with regular and ad-hoc clients. By having detailed monthly catch up meetings, either in person or by telephone, you can identify what is coming up in their calendar and how you can help them by sharing some of that workload.

For some really great documents to help you with initial client consultations and ongoing client reviews, take a look at our New Client Template Pack and Client Management Template Pack.

For more detailed information about how to conduct a client consultation, download our Podcast on Client Consutation here.

Copyright 2008 by Justine Curtis

About the author

Justine Curtis is the director of her own successful virtual assistant business My Virtual Assistant which is now recruiting a team of virtual assistant licensees and founder of The UK Association of Virtual Assistants (UKAVA) which offers free resources and information to its subscribers – sign up at http://www.ukava.co.uk. Justine is the author of Setting Yourself Up As A Virtual Assistant and is proud to be able to pass on the benefits of her vast experience of the VA role to aspiring and progressive virtual PAs as a co-founder of the VA Success Group.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Bank Phishing Schemes

Having just received two more of these phishing emails I feel compelled to blog about them.

In the interests of those who might not know the term phishing, it's the label given to those emails that you receive purporting to be from someone they aren't. For instance in this case my bank, claiming that my account was being accessed by a third party and that ownership was in doubt. They usually include a link or form that you need to fill in and send back. The problem is that they're really not from who they claim to be.

Usually the easiest and best way to tell if the emails are real is to look at the spelling. In genuine communications I've received from my bank via email the spelling and grammar has always been pretty perfect.

The phishing emails have spelling and grammar that would leave most First Graders pulling their hair out at how bad it is.

If you have any doubts about whether an email is authentic or not please contact the sender and ask before you click on any links.

Having had a bank card cloaned a couple of years ago I can tell you the trouble and inconvenience of having to try and resolve the matter is truly astounding. Certainly it could have been made easier by my bank if they'd given me all the information that I needed right at the start rather than in small bite size pieces.

I truly hope that none of you are or become a victim of the phishing exercises.

Otherwise I hope you all have a super weekend.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

What is Honesty When You're A Virtual Assistant

What is honesty you may wonder. Well in the world of the Virtual Assistant it is the ability to admit your shortcomings and areas that are not your core business. You either then need to subcontract the work out or alternatively you need to admit upfront to the client that you are unable to assist them.

I've had numerous calls over the years from clients who have had work done by people who claim to be experts at what they do when in actual fact they aren't. The classic was the one I received today. The client had hired someone to assist in finalizing a tender document to be sent to a government organization. The lady who worked all day for them actually was not as experienced in terms of the needs for the clients as she claimed to be. The client is now left with a document that needs urgent attention with a very tight deadline, the tender needs to be submitted tomorrow.

As a virtual assistant it is imperative to have a network of like-minded people to interact with. This serves a multitude of purposes. It allows for a sounding board on those days when things are falling apart faster than you can pick them up, as well as to celebrate the joys with you. The other useful factor of such a network is the ability to be able to either subcontract or pass on work to people who are better equipped, or have more experience in areas where your skills may be lacking.

If you are in South Africa, or Africa, then there is such a network and what a wonderful group of people there are on it. If you want to join then sign up with TAVASA (http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/tavasa/).

Friday, 5 February 2010

Never Give Up

OK, now that we’re on our way to achieving our goals don’t give up. No matter what people say about how unrealistic, silly, or anything else about your goal remember that it’s yours and yours alone. If you want it you can make it happen.

There will be the people, many of which may be friends and family, who tell you that you can’t achieve your goal or that it’s unrealistic. While it’s hard to work against such beliefs you need to have the faith of your convictions and stick to your guns.

Ignore the Nay-sayers and those wishing to destroy your wish and keep going strong. Find people of a similar mindset and spend time with them. They will help you achieve your goals, rather than crushing them.

Good luck and I hope 2010 is the year that you achieve your goals.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Take Action

Now that you’ve identified, prioritized, and planned your wish, it’s time to start taking action. The law of Inertia that you may have learnt about at school still has an effect on you now. Make a commitment to your goals and plans every day. If you only spend 5 minutes on it today but 15 minutes on it tomorrow that’s fine. The idea is to get yourself moving in the right direction and then the Law of Inertia will take over.

Taking the first step is the hardest but each and every step thereafter will get easier and easier. You need to create new habits in order to achieve your new goals. It takes time to create a new habit so remember to plan time each day for your goals until you no longer need to think about prioritizing the time and you just do it.

Affirmations are a great way to help you meet your goals. It really is simply telling yourself the same thing every day until it becomes a reality. Work on your affirmations as often as you need to each and every day until they become true.

While your wishes and goals are your own and personal there is no reason why you can’t get other people to help you achieve them. Not everyone has the same skill set and resources at hand, so feel free to ask and accept help in achieving your goals.