The Power of Working with Virtual Assistants
As your law practice evolves or your entrepreneurial endeavors take off, it will become increasingly difficult to effectively manage all aspects of your business and have a fulfilling personal life! This is especially true for those important, yet routine activities related to client or customer management and marketing.
Hiring a virtual assistant (“VA”) is an important way to build more time into your day for expanding your business or finding time to spend with loved ones.
What can a VA do for me?
There are many ways to integrate a VA into your business. Let’s explore a few to get you started.
· Research. When you are interested in purchasing a new business tool, investing in a program or expanding you marketing into a new area – have your VA conduct in-depth research and provide you with a summary.
· Contact management. Hire a VA to help you manage your contact, which can include entering your stack of cards into a shared database (like Act or Highrise). You VA can also help with tasks like entering feedback form from your speaking engagement into spreadsheets. If you are not using feedback forms with your speaking engagement, you are missing a key opportunity. Feel free to schedule an introductory coaching session to find how to effective use this interactive marketing tool.
· Transcription. If you prefer dictating to writing, hire a VA to transcribe your tapes. This is an effective way to prepare not only legal documents, but also articles and essays. Remember, VAs are available to help you expand your business and increase your time through supporting your preferred way of working.
Intermediate to Advanced Services:
· Copywriting. Many virtual professionals are also great writers and can help you create great copy for your website, sales letters and service/product descriptions. Just make sure to get writing samples before you begin.
· Search Engine Optimization. There are many VAs who specialize in search engine optimization (“SEO”). These VAs can help you craft and edit your content to include keywords and other techniques, making your written work search engine friendly and resulting in increased traffic for your website.
· Blogging. Many professionals use pro-bloggers to write some or all of their blog posts. Consider hiring a pro-blogger a long-term relationship, as it will take even a great pro-bloggers time to emulate your “voice” over time and be able to help you create an editor schedule that is in-line with your professional brand. Pro-blogger VAs can also comment on other blogs as your surrogate and link to your site, resulting in increased exposure for you and your brand.
· Social networking. There are a lot of social networking sites out there and you need to be a part of the ones where your “ideal clients” are hanging out! Your VA can create your professionals profiles, update your activities and connect you to people you need to know. Your VA can also scan your various feeds (e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed and LinkedIn) and send you a daily summary of key activities. They can also accept friends or connections on your behalf.
Where can I find a good VA?
There are lots of places to find a great VA.
· Ask your colleagues and mentors for referrals.
· Check out the International Virtual Assistants Association (www.IVAA.org)
· Check out Assist U
· Post a job opportunity on Guru
· Post a job opportunity on eLance
· Post a job opportunity on Craig’s List in your local area
How much will I pay for a good VA?
Although virtual assistants vary sharply in cost for services, you should be prepared to pay for quality. You may be able to find a non-US VA to do really basic services effectively for $3 per hour; however, you should be prepared to pay $25 or more hourly for a US based VA. According to several VA associations, most VA’s charge $35+ per hour; however, I’ve been blessed to find really great VAs at a more affordable rate.
When hiring your VA, you should consider more than just cost. Always ask for referrals and check them! If you are hiring a VA to write, make sure you ask for writing samples. You may also consider giving them a quick and easy assignment, like write a 200 word article on a subject matter of interest to you, to confirm their writing skill.
Pulling it all together.
A great VA is critical to your accelerated business success. Executive assistants and VA’s are very similar in the work they perform, but there are several important distinctions to keep in mind. Executive assistants are employees, while virtual assistants are business owners and sometimes have multiple clients. Remember this when assigning work and setting expectations. Many VA’s specialize in various services – like the ones discussed in this article. Take time to consider your needs and if it makes good business sense for you to have more than one VA.
Consider hiring a VA an important team member when building the virtual team necessary to take your business to your next level of success. The UpwardAction Team includes two VAs, each of whom has a specific area of focus. This arrangement works out well for our team.
If you need any assistance in your team building process, feel free to sign up for an introductory coaching session with Coach T.C. Coleman, JD.