Where Do You Find a Virtual Assistant?
If you read my article “Drowning in Details? It’s Time for a Virtual Assistant,” you might have been convinced to hire a VA to help you with your freelance business.
You’ve got too much work and not enough time to do it all. A professional who can quickly do routine or basic tasks, freeing you up to do what you do best – well, that could look pretty good about now.
But you’ve got that nagging question . . .
How do I get a quality virtual assistant of my own?
First, ask people. You’ll be surprised how many businesses run on VA power. If you’re in a networking group (and, as a business owner, you need to be in at least one), ask there. Most people who use VAs are glad to share and recommend. Here are some different networking group possibilities:
Local groups: Some possible groups to ask in this category are your local chamber of commerce, BNI (Business Networking International), Golden Referral Club, even a local chapter of the American Marketing Association.
Online groups: Are you a member of any business groups on Facebook or LinkedIn? (Again, you need to be.) Put out a call. People are happy to share who they’re using. And others in that network may actually be VAs themselves who’d be glad to answer your call.
I found my current VA on Facebook. She posted a contest on a FB group I belong to and I won it!
The prize was a Facebook page for my business, which I’d been meaning to get around to. She did a wonderful job designing it.
And when my time came to hire a VA, I contacted her and another VA from the same Facebook group. I gave them two different assignments. They both did their tasks well. But I had a hard time remembering that Germany is six hours ahead, so my primary VA is in my time zone.
Virtual Assistant groups: VAs have several well-organized trade associations that have databases of VAs for hire. You can search either by specialty or by geography, depending upon the site.
Of course, location doesn’t really matter. Since you do your business online through emails, project management software like BaseCamp, and phone calls or Skype, locale is no longer an issue for a team member.
Here are professional trade organizations for VAs:
International Virtual Assistants Association (www.ivaa.org)
IVAA has a searchable directory with more than 40 categories from accounting to word processing and everything in between. And you can submit a request for proposal if you have a particular need and want to look for a VA that way.
The Administrative Consultants Association (www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com)
These members prefer a different title to their work – Administrative Consultant.
They do the same work as a virtual assistant. This is another organization providing good business leads (you!) for their members.
The International Association of Virtual Assistants (www.iava.org.uk)
This is based in the UK but serves the world. Just so you know, many people hire VAs in other countries. I have a friend whose main VA is in France. I’ve used a VA in Germany. If they’re really good, it doesn’t matter where they live.
The Canadian Virtual Assistant Connection (www.cvac.ca)
Again, a VA in Canada can work for anyone, anywhere. My own VA lives in Montreal, and I live in North Carolina. For me, the deciding factor when I chose between two very competent VAs was that she lived in my time zone.
What You Need to Look for in a VA
First, I definitely do not recommend using either the cheapest person who calls himself a VA or going to Elance.com for a VA.
For a lot of reasons. Let’s be honest here:
Compare it to your own business. You made an effort to become educated in your craft of copywriting. You probably belong to a few professional groups like Professional Writers’ Alliance or Wealthy Web Writer that give you extra education and guidelines.
It’s the same with VAs. They’ve been trained to professional standards. You want to hire someone with a higher level of knowledge and professionalism than someone who suddenly decides to declare themselves a VA without the knowledge of how to provide high-quality, dependable business support.
How Do You Decide Who to Hire?
OK, now you’ve got a few good possible VAs. They were recommended to you or you found them on a professional trade organization’s website.
What do you do next? First, look at their individual web page. Decide if their marketing materials display a level of professionalism that matches your own. They might describe their specialties or preferences for clients.
If you find a few you feel you “click” with, email them. Start a conversation. They may not be taking new clients. They may show up in a way you’re uncomfortable with, for example, late or with poor grammar skills.
Find clues where you can.
Then assign a small project with a few parts, like sending an email for you or posting a blog entry – with picture – for you. The assignment should be detailed and something you would normally do.
This way, you can tell if the VA is capable and easy to work with. It’s a trial period and a test at the same time.
When you’ll find someone you don’t want to work with, you’ll definitely know about it. If there’s any slight resistance in you, go with your gut. You’re probably right about that person not being the one for you.
When you find a good VA, decide to go with that one. Many business owners use a couple of different ones for different tasks. But go with one at a time at first. See how you like that person.
Then let them help you grow your business into one that will have you needing another VA real soon!
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
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