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Category Archives: Virtual Assistance

Partnering for Results: 10 Ways to Create an Effective Partnership with Your Virtual Executive Assistant

In my last post I shared with you my concept of what a Virtual  Executive Assistant is.  You now understand the concept, but knowing how to create an effective partnership with your Virtual Executive Assistant is crucial to the success of the Client/VEA relationship.  What do I mean by “partnership” or “partnering”?

From my perspective, to “partner” is to establish trust, share information, and work in tandem to solve problems and achieve results. In order for the Client/VEA partnership to be successful, both parties must agree to work together in a way that will help them create a successful long-term, collaborative partnership.

To help you get the most from your partnership relationship, here are 10 of what I believe to be the most important characteristics of a successful Client/VEA relationship that will allow you and your VEA to partner effectively and achieve extraordinary results.

 1.    Communication

Open communication is vital to building a strong and successful partnership – especially when working from a distance. When assigning work, be concise and explicit with your instructions. Provide your VEA with enough information to allow her to perform your tasks competently and precisely. Ask her questions, and be available to answer her questions too. This will expedite progress in completing your work on time and with the desired results. Consider scheduling weekly phone meetings with your VEA to connect, discuss any new or existing work, address any issues, or just to say hi! Staying in regular contact will strengthen your working relationship and help it to move forward quicker.

 2.    Trust

Just like all relationships, trust plays a huge role in the success of a virtual relationship.  Your VEA will be involved with many areas of your business, and you must feel good about trusting her with the details you will be sharing with her, even if the information is personal or privileged.  Having confidence in her abilities to do a good job for you, trust in her loyalty to you as a valued client, and faith that she will always do the right thing is essential to creating an effective and successful long-term partnership.  As you work together, you will get to know her and her work style and work ethics, and trust will build. This is essential for the relationship to thrive and survive for the long-term.

 3.    Partnership

Great business partnerships are founded on the symbiotic quality that is defined by the union of two people who fit together in work style and personality, and have mutually shared goals and expectations.  You choose to work together because you believe that you are a good fit, and want to collaborate (join forces) on a professional level so that together you can meet your goals. Virtual Assistance is most effective when you see the relationship as a “partnership”, invest the time and energy required for it to be successful, and are willing to commit to it long-term.

 4.  Structure

Virtual Assistance does not work well when you have constant urgent deadlines or last minute emergencies because your VEA may not always be immediately available. By giving her ample time to schedule and complete your projects, and allowing her to put systems in place to alleviate the frustration these urgencies can create, you will both be happier.

 5.    Respect

The Client/VEA relationship breaks the traditional Boss/Assistant paradigm.  The relationship is based on equality.  You and your VEA have chosen to work with each other – for your success.  You are both professionals and business owners.  In order for your partnership to be successful, it is important that you treat your VEA as a professional and fellow business owner, and not as an employee.

 6.    Teamwork

As you continue to work together, the relationship will grow, and you will come to rely on each other. While it is true that interdependence creates successful teams, Virtual Assistance does not work well when you become too dependent on your VEA because there will be times when she will not be immediately available to you.  You must be able to jump in and handle things as needed from time to time, as she will do for you.

7.    Patience

Your VEA is most likely masterfully skilled, completely ready, and 100% committed to providing you with the support you need, or you would not have chosen to work together; however, it is important to remember there may be a learning curve when you first begin working together.  Naturally, she will need time to become familiar with your tasks, adapt to your working style, and learn about your business that may have taken you years to establish. Patience, understanding and guidance in helping  her understand the “ins and outs” of your business initially will help move the relationship forward that much quicker and set the foundation to help your relationship get off to a strong start.

 8.    Receptiveness

An effective Client/VEA partnership is created when both parties listen to and support each other.  Your VEA will be bringing a great deal of experience and expertise to you and your business.  She wants to serve you well, and will often share her ideas or make suggestions on ways to make your life easier and more productive. She is very creative, has years of experience working with other business professionals and business owners in the same capacity, and can guide you toward what will work best in your situation. Although not all her ideas or suggestions may work for you, and ultimately the decision is yours alone to make whether to act upon any of them or not, it is important to be open to the possibilities in order to create an effective partnership.

 9.    Delegation

In order to get the most out of your partnership, you must feel good about letting go of doing everything yourself and be comfortable with delegating.  It may be hard at first to delegate with complete confidence until you have seen the quality and results of your VEA’s work, but if you allow yourself to trust the process, in time, your comfort level will undoubtedly increase, and you will soon realize the value and benefits learning how to delegate effectively will bring to you and your business.  Delegating effectively is simply being willing to transfer control of certain tasks and projects to your VEA, and trusting her to take care of them for you so you will have more time to focus on other things such as your core business activities or personal interests.  Initially, your VEA will be focused on learning the in’s and out’s of your business and working style while your focus will be on building a rapport and getting to know more about her. As you move through this initial phase, together you will be able to determine the tasks that your VEA could easily take off your “to do” list to optimize your time even more.

 10. Feedback

Feedback is important for the relationship to strengthen and grow.  Expressing gratitude and appreciation for going the extra mile, recognizing a job well done, and providing constructive feedback when something needs correcting all are critical factors in shaping a successful partnership.

As you can see, there are many facets to the Client/VEA relationship. As the relationship develops over time, a dynamic grows of mutual respect and support that richly enhances both of you. Through this joint commitment, you forge a successful and effective partnership, and through this partnership, your VEA is able to enhance your business and help you to achieve your goals.

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Author bio: Lisa Salem is a professional and experienced Virtual Executive Assistant, Transcriptionist, and Nurture Marketing Consultant. She  provides off-site, dedicated administrative and business support services on an ongoing or as-needed basis to small/home-based business owners, solo professionals, executives, and other individuals who need support, but don’t have access to or want to hire an on-site employee .

As the Founder and Managing Member of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC,  she brings over 20 years of administrative and office management experience to her clients and her business.  Lisa is passionate about what she does, and strives to promote the Virtual Assistance industry to help make it stand out as a true profession of excellence. Her style is easy going, yet focused, with emphasis placed on building solid relationships with her clients. She never hesitates to go the extra mile to exceed clients expectations by providing quality service, excellent value, and total satisfaction to ensure long-term dedication, loyalty, and results.

©2010.  Would you like to republish this article? You are free to do so as long as you include a link back to the full post, attributing the author, Lisa Salem of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC.

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So, What Exactly is a Virtual Assistant?

I have been networking and talking to a lot of people lately, and almost always the first thing they say to me when we first meet and start talking is, “So, what do you do?”  When I tell them I am a Virtual Executive Assistant, they are intrigued, but really have no idea what a Virtual Executive Assistant really means.  And so, I find myself explaining the concept to them in more detail.  While I am quite happy to explain it to them, because I am very passionate about what I do, I thought I would start sharing the concept here in a series of blog posts to share what Virtual Assistance is all about.

So what exactly is a Virtual Assistant?  There are many definitions, and “types” of Virtual Assistants, but in the broad sense, here’s how the International Virtual Assistants Association, also known as IVAA, (www.ivaa.org) explains it:

“A Virtual Assistant (VA) is an independent entrepreneur providing administrative, creative and/or technical services. Utilizing advanced technological modes of communication and data delivery, a professional VA assists clients in his/her area of expertise from his/her own office on a contractual basis.”

Here’s a quick interpretation. . .

A Virtual Assistant is a skilled professional with years of experience and training, turned entrepreneur, who works remotely (off-site) from her own office location.

A Virtual Assistant is driven and passionate about what they do and gets the job done efficiently and effectively, with a greater level of quality and commitment than your average employee.

A Virtual Assistant is someone who will partner with you to assess and fulfill your business needs and walk with you on your journey toward achieving business success — in essence, your success is her success.

A Virtual Assistant provides her own office, computer, and equipment, and pays her own taxes, business and office expenses, and funds her own benefits.

A Virtual Assistant is an independent contractor so you don’t have to worry about benefits, insurance, payroll taxes, sick or vacation pay.

A Virtual Assistant provides flexible, convenient, reliable, and cost-effective support whenever you need it, no matter where you are located, anywhere in the world. 

A Virtual Assistant can reduce your labor costs because you only pay for the productive time she spends doing your work, which adds value to your investment.

Stay tuned for more posts about the wonderful world of Virtual Assistance!  I would welcome your comments or questions.

If you want to learn more, or receive a complimentary needs assessment and administrative tasks action plan for your business, please feel free to contact me.

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Author bio: Lisa Salem is a Professional Virtual Executive Assistant, Nurture Marketing Consultant, and an experienced Transcriptionist. As the Founder and Managing Member of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC,  she brings over 20 years of administrative and business management experience into her business.  Lisa is passionate about promoting the Virtual Assistance industry and strives to help make it stand out as a true profession of excellence. Her style is easy going, yet focused, with emphasis placed on going the extra mile to exceed clients expectations by providing quality service, excellent value, and total satisfaction to ensure long-term dedication, loyalty, and results.

©2010.  Would you like to republish this article? You are free to do so as long as you include a link back to the full post, attributing the author, Lisa Salem of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC.

 

A Virtual Assistant is NOT an Employee

Many people are confused about what a Virtual Assistant is and isn’t.  Many think that a Virtual Assistant is an employee who works from home, no, that’s a Telecommuter.  Others think that a Virtual Assistant is someone who is looking for a job, but can’t find one, so they are just seeking to find administrative work they can do from home to make money in the meantime …no, that’s a Freelancer.  Still others think that a Virtual Assistant is equivalent to a temporary employee….no, a Virtual Assistant is not an employee at all!

What is a Virtual Assistant (or VA)?

A Virtual Assistant is a highly-skilled, experienced administrative professional, turned entrepreneur, who provides a wide range of administrative and business support services, typically to other business owners, entrepreneurs, and busy professionals.

Yes, it is true, many Virtual Assistants do provide administrative support and can handle almost any task that an on-site administrative employee could handle, but unlike an employee, a Virtual Assistant isn’t just working at a “job” in an administrative position for an employer or “boss”.   On the contrary, she is a business owner running a business who’s product or service involves providing administrative support services to clients who retain her to work with them.

A Virtual Assistant is technology-savvy and creative.  She is able to support and communicate with her clients remotely from her own fully-equipped office through the use of a variety of modern technology and communication media, such as fax, Internet, Email, Telephone, Instant Messaging, Text Messaging, Flash Drive file transfer, Cassette Tapes, Digital Audio Files, Overnight Mail Services, Snail Mail, Courier, Online File Sharing Tools, Collaboration Software, Remote Computer Access, and other Internet-based software, tools, and services.

A Virtual Assistant works one on one with her clients in an on-going business relationship.  This is the foundation of Virtual Assistance.  She typically works with a small clientele to allow her to provide the client with personalized attention and to get to know and understand the client’s work style, how his business works, and what his goals are.  By working with the client on a continuous basis for the long term, she becomes familiar with the Client’s support needs, which helps her to better service him and become a valuable resource and partner in his success.  She adds value to the relationship by representing the client and his business in the best possible light to create a professional image in the eyes of the client’s own clients and business prospects.  As a business owner herself, she has a vested interest in helping the client succeed and goes the extra mile to provide exceptional customer service because her success depends on the client’s success and total overall satisfaction.

A Virtual Assistant’s purpose is to help the client lighten his workload, streamline his business processes, maximize his productivity, enhance his profitability, optimize his time, and provide solutions to help make his busy life easier.  The Client/VA relationship is meant to be the foundation of an effective team that enhances the client’s business and helps him create a better work/life balance.

What a Virtual Assistant is NOT

A Virtual Assistant is neither an employee nor a subordinate.  She is a self-employed business owner and service provider who’s status is that of an independent contractor or vendor, which means she is responsible for paying her own employment and business-related taxes, insurance, benefits, and overhead expenses.  She works for herself and is on an equal level as the client.  She doesn’t work “for” her clients, she works “with” them to form an on-going, collaborative-style business partnership.  The Client-VA relationship resembles the relationship one would engage in with their Accountant, their Attorney, their Business Coach, or a Consultant who is helping them in their business to take care of certain things.

A Virtual Assistant is not paid a fixed salary at an hourly rate chosen by the Client,  like an employee would receive or work for.  She charges a professional fee for services rendered at a pre-determined rate set by her, which is based on her level of experience, knowledge, skill set, the overall value she creates for the client, and the costs involved in running her business in order to bring her services to her clients — much like an Accountant, Doctor, Lawyer, Consultant, or professional Business Coach would charge a professional fee for their services.

A Virtual Assistant is not a decision maker for the client’s business, nor is she responsible for establishing goals and strategies for the client’s business, although she may assist the client with these things.  She is the client’s right-hand and often times becomes the client’s sounding board or brainstorming partner.

Are you still confused about what a Virtual Assistant is and isn’t?  I’d love to hear from you on the subject and your experience working with a Virtual Assistant.

Author bio: Lisa Salem is a Professional Executive Virtual Assistant,  Marketing Virtual Assistant, and experienced Transcriptionist. As the President and Managing Member of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC,  she has over 30 years of administrative and business management experience. Lisa works to promote the Virtual Assistance industry and to make it stand out as a true profession of excellence. Her style is easy going, yet focused, with emphasis placed on going the extra mile to exceed clients expectations by providing quality service, excellent value, and total satisfaction to ensure long-term dedication, loyalty, and results.
©2010.  Would you like to republish this article? You are free to do so as long as you include a link back to the full post, attributing the author, Lisa Salem of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC.