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Working Effectively with Your Virtual Assistant

virtual assistant

Good communication is the key to a successful relationship between a VA and his or her client.

Your virtual assistant may be highly skilled, but your needs and wants may be very different than those of their other clients. Building virtual relationships can be challenging, because you don’t have the same level or frequency of interaction as when you work in the same office. This is compounded by the fact that communication is more difficult without the verbal and non-verbal cues that exist when we interact in person.

Before you begin working together, it’s important to discuss expectations – both yours and your VA’s – including how work assignments will be handled, turnaround time, and communication during the assignment.

When you assign a task or project, be as specific as possible.

  • If you need it by a certain date, be sure to say so.
  • Do not assume that your work will be completed immediately, unless you have an agreement with your virtual assistant for a set number of hours per day, week, or month.
  • If you need it in three weeks, don’t say “it’s no rush;” say you need it in three weeks.
  • If you don’t have a specific deadline, feel free to ask your VA when you can expect the work to be completed.
  • If you want things done a specific way, say so. If you’ve already established and documented procedures, send a copy to your VA.

There will probably be times when your VA needs clarification or feedback from you while working on a task, especially when you first begin working together, or if it’s a new project, so you need to agree upon a system for dealing with this. Is email okay, or would you prefer a phone call, or instant message?

When you have someone working in your office with you, they can pop their head in, ask you a question or two, and continue working on the project, but when you’re working remotely, you do not have that luxury. If email is your primary method of communication, it is essential that you answer your VA’s emails as quickly as possible to avoid any delays in the completion of your project. Even if you don’t have time to provide a full answer, you should at least acknowledge that you received their inquiry and let them know when to expect your answer. If you don’t respond on a timely basis, your VA may have moved on to another project by the time he or she receives the information they requested.

If e-mail is not your preferred method of communication, it may be a good idea to schedule regular telephone meetings with your virtual assistant, keeping in mind that you will usually be billed for the time. You’ll probably be able to reduce the frequency of these meetings once a regular routine is established, except perhaps when a new project is underway.

It is especially important to establish an effective system for communication in the early stages of your working relationship, as your virtual assistant is getting to know you and your preferences. After you’ve been working together for a while and your VA has had an opportunity to gain a good understanding of your business and the way you like things done, these “check-ins” will become less frequent.

Making the time and effort to communicate clearly with your VA is an investment that will help you to build and benefit from your virtual relationship for years to come.

Photo: FreeImages.com/M Nota

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