Working Virtually

The idea of having virtual support provided to a business owner takes a bit of getting your head around, especially when the idea is new to you. I meet people via the phone or via face-to-face networking every week who ask me how can this be done? They just cannot imagine how it might work.

The Virtual Assistant Industry is now 10 years old and celebrated its birthday with the first international online conference in May this year – again, it was totally virtual. No physical trade exhibition hall but we did have a virtual one. No physical seminar rooms but we did have many virtual ones. But that's another story for another time.

To provide virtual support to a client means to provide services for them in another location, another office to that of the client. When I first heard the term 'Virtual Assistant' in the mid 90's I baulked at the idea of that name – it was hot on the heels of 'virtual reality' and I wanted everyone to know that I am real. However, the support I provide to my clients is very much virtual or remote. I've provided a series of case studies on my Virtual Assistant blog and you can read them there, but here I will give you an idea of how some of the work is carried out.

Work can be provided to a Virtual Assistant in many ways: phone, fax, email, courier, mail, dropped off, picked up, downloaded via FTP or other processes and so on. As the working relationship is established the VA becomes the virtual PA to the client and gets to know and understand their business, just as a PA does in a corporate office. He or she can respond to enquiries by email on behalf of their client, maintain and manage their database, newsletter preparation, bulk emails, mail merges, formatting of typed documentation, desktop publishing, audio and digital transcriptions, maintain and manage their websites, research various items, do article submissions online, maintain their blogs, and even manage their diaries/calendars.

I have clients who are not very computer and/or internet literate and depend on my knowledge and experience to help guide them in their daily business needs and explore new online options and advise them of how they work and whether they would be a suitable new facility to be utilised in their business. In effect I become a consultant and advisor, as well as their PA. My longest term client was with me for over 10 years and he's recently retired in his early 80's. Another client who is a similar age to me, has been with me for around 10 years and the services I provide for her continue to increase as she finds more things she wants to do with her business that are internet and web related. Her motto is 'do what you do best and delegate the rest' – which she does – to me!

So, if you struggle with your admin work and find that it is taking valuable time away from what you really should be doing for your business, then you really need to consider outsourcing to a virtual assistant. You could choose to engage one who is local to you if you have need of occasional face-to-face contact, or if that isn't necessary, then the locality really shouldn't matter. There are around 16 VA Networks currently in the world and you are sure to find someone who will look after you as you require. Some of the networks have Requests for Proposal forms or Job Request Forms which will help you outline what you're looking for. Other VA networks encourage you to peruse their listings to find the right person. KMT

virtual assistants, VA Networks, working virtually, virtual support

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