How to Effectively Use a Virtual Assistant: 15 Unexpected Tips
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the endless to-do lists and demands on our time. Whether you’re a busy professional, a business owner juggling multiple responsibilities, or a stay-at-home parent, it can be tough to get everything done. That’s where virtual assistants (VAs) come in.
With a virtual assistant, you can delegate tasks and free up time for the things that matter most to you. But not all virtual assistants are created equal, and not everyone knows how to maximize the benefits of working with one. If the latter sounds like you, then you’re in for a treat! Read on for our best tips on how to effectively use a virtual assistant.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Every minute you spend on tasks that can be easily delegated is a minute you could be using to grow your business, pursue a passion project, or nurture your relationships. That’s why hiring a virtual assistant can be a game-changer.
A virtual assistant is a professional who supports a client or a business remotely. Most people associate VAs with basic administrative tasks, but they can also handle a broad range of tasks depending on their niche. There are VAs who specialize in eCommerce, digital marketing, content creation, IT services, accounting, real estate, and telehealth, to name just a few areas of expertise. So whether you need help with website maintenance, lead generation, or podcast management, there’s a VA (or VA team!) who can help you get the job done.
Beyond Phone Calls and Data Entry: What virtual assistants can Offer
While there are plenty of virtual assistants who excel in admin roles, there is a wide variety of specializations that virtual assistants can offer growing businesses. These include:
- Calendar Management
- Report Generation
- Lead Management
- Customer Service Tasks
- Cold Calling
- Market Research
- File Management on Google Drive or Other Cloud Storage Solutions
- Accommodation and Travel Arrangements
- Graphic Design
- Video Editing
- Podcast Editing
- Audio Editing
- Online Store Setup and Management
- File Management
- Competitor Research
- Customer Inquiry Handling
- Product Listing Management
- Supplier Coordination
- Order Tracking and Updating
Finance and Accounting
- Bookkeeping Tasks
- Accounts Reconciliation
- Tax Documents Preparations
- Generating Financial Reports
- Create Business Proposals
- Digital Marketing
- Social Media Management
- Scheduling Social Media Posts
- Influencer Marketing
- Content Writing
- Email Marketing
Real Estate Services
- Property Listing Management
- Client Database Management
- Appointment Setting
- Inside Sales Agent Services
- Buyer Pre-qualification
- App Development
- Website Design and Management
- API Integrations
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Software Development
- Medical Scribe
- Insurance Verification
- Handling Patient Inquiries
- Appointment Scheduling
- Medical Transcriptionist
- Updating Electronic Medical Records (EMR) or Electronic Health Records (EHR)
There are dozens of other tasks that VAs can take off your plate. Just what can a virtual assistant do for your business? Book a FREE Consultation with our Growth Experts today to find out.
How Do I Get the Best Out of My Virtual Assistant? Fifteen Unexpected Tips
Whatever type of VA you’re working with, you need to invest time and effort into finding ways to maximize the staffing solution you’ve chosen. While there are plenty of tried-and-tested tips and strategies for building and maintaining a successful relationship with your virtual assistant, there are also some that you might not have considered. Here are some of our best (and possibly unconventional) suggestions for how to effectively work with a virtual assistant:
Let your new virtual assistant learn the ropes through smaller tasks. For example, instead of simply leaving them to manage your entire social media ad strategy, you can first walk them through how you usually work on things in one platform. Let them handle one minor campaign and see how they do. You can repeat this process a couple of times, giving quantitative and qualitative feedback each time. This way, they have actionable feedback that they can work on when they start to handle bigger campaigns.
Schedule non-work-related conversations
Take the time to get to know your virtual assistant beyond work-related tasks. Schedule non-work-related conversations to build a personal connection and strengthen your working relationship. Discuss topics that are related to their work performance such as their working hours, goals they’d like to achieve, and more. This can help build trust, create a better understanding of each others’ motivations, and in turn, ensure your virtual assistant is motivated to stay engaged with the tasks you assign them.
Use emojis and GIFs liberally
Emojis and GIFs are a great way to inject some humor into your communication with your virtual assistant. Use them to convey your emotions or reactions in a light-hearted way. Send funny GIFs to your virtual assistant to brighten their day or to celebrate a job well done. Just make sure they’re appropriate for the workplace!
Adding humor to your communication can help break the ice and create a relaxed working environment. Use humor appropriately to break down barriers and make your virtual assistant feel more comfortable and motivated. Humor and storytelling also make virtual meetings and communication more engaging and enjoyable.
Gamifying tasks can help make them more engaging and motivating. Turn tasks into a game by creating challenges or setting up a point system. For example, you could award points for completing tasks before a deadline or for coming up with creative solutions. You don’t have to do this every day or for every task, but it can help make your virtual assistant feel more motivated and incentivized.
Share your vision
Some people may opt to keep their virtual assistants at arm’s length or only share as much information as they deem necessary for the VAs to perform their tasks. However, being more open with your VA will allow you to build a more meaningful and productive relationship with them. Share your long-term goals and vision for your business with your virtual assistant. This can help them understand how their work contributes to the bigger picture, leading to a more invested and engaged working relationship.
Create virtual water cooler conversations
Since you can’t gather around the office water cooler, create a virtual one! Set up a channel where you and your virtual assistant can share funny memes, videos, or stories to lighten the mood.
Encourage them to speak up
Virtual assistants may have unique perspectives and ideas that can help improve your business. Encourage them to speak up and share their thoughts, even if they differ from your own. This can lead to more innovative and creative solutions.
Hire virtual assistants based on their personality
When hiring a virtual assistant, look beyond their skills and qualifications. Consider their personality and whether it will mesh well with you and your team. A good fit can help establish a strong working relationship and lead to better productivity and results.
Build rapport through shared interests
Take time to learn about your virtual assistant’s hobbies and interests, and share your own. This can help build rapport and create a more friendly and productive work dynamic.
Use voice memos
Instead of sending lengthy emails or texts, try using voice memos to communicate more efficiently. This can help reduce miscommunication and create a more personal connection with your virtual assistant.
Collaborate on personal development
Discuss personal development goals with your virtual assistant and how you can support each other in achieving them. This not only helps your virtual assistant grow their skills and knowledge but also fosters a deeper sense of connection and teamwork.
You still need to be a manager (but not the micro kind)
Out of sight and out of mind is not a great motto to live by if you’re working with virtual assistants. Despite the physical distance, you should still be working as a team. This means that you need to put a bit more effort into managing your virtual assistant (or VA team). Having an effective manager is important for virtual assistants or remote teams, as it helps to ensure expectations are met and tasks are completed on time. (Tip: if you’re not keen on managing your VAs, work with a virtual assistant agency that will do the performance management and monitoring for you.)
Want to know what’s possible with remote staffing? Talk to our Growth Experts to find out how you can reduce your overhead costs by as much as 80% + more perks!
It’s also important to note that trust plays a big role in remote teams. No one wants a micromanager, even a remote one. Building that trust helps instill confidence or empowers your virtual assistant to do the job at the best level they can.
To add, one of the perks that people who work remotely enjoy is flexibility and freedom. If you’ve hired the right virtual assistant, then they should know that these perks also come with the responsibility of being a transparent and self-motivated worker. Instead of checking on what your team is doing every hour, try setting syncs every two weeks or every first week of the month. During these syncs, your VAs can share updates on the different tasks they’re working on, share any of their wins, and exchange best practices. These meetings can help keep your VAs on their toes and encourage them to stay on top of their projects.
Have themed dress-up days
If you have video calls with your virtual assistant, try having themed dress-up days to add some fun to your meetings. You could have a superhero day, a beach day, or even a pajama day!
Set realistic expectations
Virtual assistants are not superheroes, and it’s important to set realistic expectations regarding what they can and cannot do. Avoid overwhelming them with too many tasks or deadlines, and be understanding if they encounter unforeseen challenges.
How to start right and build a solid working relationship with your virtual assistants
Do Your Research
The virtual assistant pool isn’t just diverse in culture and geographical location; it’s also filled with talented individuals with varying skills. Knowing what tasks you can outsource to virtual assistants will help when you want to hire virtual assistant services. Consider working with a VA staffing agency that offers a variety of VA services or provides virtual assistant teams that can take on various functions for you.
Identify the Tasks You Should Delegate
If you know which of your tasks can be outsourced, you can easily craft a complete and clear job posting when it’s finally time to start your recruitment process. When you have a clear job description, you can save time and energy. Applicants will know what the job opening entails and discern whether they’re a good fit for the project. Instead of risking miscommunication and eventual scope creep, your VAs will already have a clear idea of what they’re expected to do based on a clear job description.
Aside from managing expectations between yourself and your VA, you’ll also have a better idea of how much VA services will cost. Knowing which tasks to delegate will help you estimate the number of hours your VA should spend on each task and the total hours they need to work for the week. This can help you decide whether you need a full-time assistant focusing on administrative tasks like email management and data entry or part-time VAs who will work on various one-off projects.
Figure Out Your Non-Negotiables and “Nice-to-Haves”
When drafting a job description for your VA, you need to identify your must-haves. These are the qualities or the terms of your work agreement with the VA that you simply cannot forego. This list will depend on the type of VA you’re looking for and the tasks they will be asked to do. To give you an idea, here are some things that you might want to include in your list of non-negotiables:
- Work hours: Is it crucial that your virtual assistant works within your business hours? Do they need to complete a specified number of hours within the week? How much time should they work on a project?
- Technical and soft skills: What are the specific skills that your VA must have? If they don’t have skill X or skill Y, does that mean they won’t get through the screening process?
- Tools: Do you expect them to have complete work tools or are you willing to pay for certain equipment or software? What are the computer specifications and internet speed limit they need to have?
Similarly, it’s a good idea to have a list of “nice-to-have” qualities and skills to look for in a good virtual assistant. These skills, experiences, or traits aren’t required but can give your potential VAs an edge over their competitors for the job.
Set a Budget
We’ve touched on the hourly rates in the previous tip, but an essential part of hiring a virtual assistant is setting your budget. One of the many benefits of outsourced contract staffing is that it’s a cost-effective solution compared with hiring an in-office, full-time employee. But if you’re not careful, you can end up spending more money than you initially intended. Following the first three tips above can help you determine a fair and feasible budget.
Make Sure Your Business is Ready for Distributed Teams
Before you even draft a job description for your virtual assistant, make sure your business is remote-ready. Your team should be able to communicate with both in-office and distributed teams. Schedule your meetings to accommodate common working times for all members of the team. Set up systems for synchronous and asynchronous communication, and make sure everyone (both on-site and remote team members) is on board.
Invest Time in Onboarding and Training
The usual process of hiring an in-office full-time employee looks something like this: you would hand them their tools, assign them a workstation, make the introductions, show them the ropes through onboarding and training, and wish them a successful first day. This isn’t all that different from working with a remote assistant. Even though they’re not traditional office employees, they still need to go through onboarding and training. It’s true that good virtual assistants work well with minimal supervision. But you can’t expect them to attend virtual meetings and start working on a task without proper onboarding.
Set some ground rules
Unlike in an office setup, you won’t always be there to supervise your virtual assistant for the duration of their workday. It’s best to align on ground rules to make sure that you and your VA are on the same page when it comes to expectations and company policies. If you have a time tracking system, make sure to explain its importance and how it works on day one. Just as there are different types of clients, not all VAs are the same. Some are accustomed to using time-tracking apps, while some use manual end-of-week reports. To make sure expectations and instructions per project are well-documented, you can utilize project or task management apps. These apps are great collaboration tools for distributed teams. You can easily input project details, deadlines, and reminders. Your VA can update each step, so you can easily track the progress and review their workload.
Let 20four7VA help you find and make the most out of virtual staffing solutions. Schedule your FREE, no-strings-attached Consultation Call with our Growth Experts today!