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6 Ways to Manage Your Time Better Every Day as a VA

If you are a Virtual Assistant who is working early mornings, late nights, or both trying to get it all done, it’s time to look at how you manage your time every day.

As a VA, we preach to our clients the importance of not working all hours of the day. But are we taking our own advice?

How is your VA business running? Are you finding you have enough time in your day to do your client work and your business admin?

Or are you struggling every day to get it all done?

If you constantly run to keep up, or get to the end of your day and your task list is not complete, it’s time to look at a few ways you can better manage your time.

Being in business doesn’t mean you have to work all hours – we tell our clients all the time that they shouldn’t, and yet we sometimes don’t take that advice to our own hearts.

Here are 6 tips to help you become more productive (or figure out where your time is going!):

Assess your To Do List

When you start your work day, look at what it is you need to get done. How does it look? Do you immediately know that this will be a very busy day – that you might not get it all done? That’s okay if that happens occasionally, but if it’s happening every day, you need to assess what you are putting into your calendar and how you can adjust it.  What you plan for the day needs to be manageable.

Work During Business Hours

When you are running a business, you have to pick and choose what to do – and your billable work should come before everything else. With no client revenue, your business will not survive. Working during business hours instead of doing the groceries or going to Johnny’s school is important. You don’t have to work 9-5 every day, but you do need to set business hours that work for you and work during them as much as possible.  Trying to work around family needs will lead to burnout faster than if you just hold certain periods of time for you to be working on business.

Block Out Your Schedule

Blocking out your schedule helps you to identify what you should be doing at what time. That doesn’t mean rigid and boring routines – but it does help you stay focused and let others know when you will get to things. Put start times and stop times in your calendar, so you know when it’s time to move on to the next task. Advise you clients what your turnaround time is for their projects. Block out personal time like meals and breaks – no eating at your desk! You will get more done, and still be able to do everything you want – business and personal.

Limit Distractions

One of the biggest issues with working from home is distractions. Sometimes it’s because there are others home with us during the day, and sometimes it’s just that no one else is watching us. We can do whatever we want! If you are not being as productive as you need to be, try switching off all distractions – notifications, social media, Netflix (!) – and see just how much you can get done in a short period of time. It’s really effective – trust me!

Get Support When You Need It

If you are working all hours of every day, look at why that is. What is taking up your time? If it is billable work, it may be time to hire a sub or two to lighten your load. It’s a great to build your business and bring in even more clients, when you get a couple of people to help you with the client work. When you are working alone, you will eventually max out the amount of work you can produce for clients. If you are underwater with bookkeeping or marketing tasks, consider getting help with those. Support is something we tell our clients is essential to grow their business, and the same is true for our own.

Use Checklists

Even if you think you know what you need to do, a checklist is an indispensable tool in our businesses. When you have a a repeatable task, set up a checklist for it so you don’t have to think about what to do next. You will free up very valuable brain space when you just need to consult a checklist to complete your tasks. And you can use a checklist when you bring in other support to help you.

When you work alone, no one is there to make sure you get everything done and don’t fall off track. You need to do it yourself.

By implementing simple things like scheduling, focus and checklists, you can help yourself get more done in a shorter period of time.

When you are starting your VA business, time management seems less important because you don’t have a full client load. As you get busier, you will need to manage many more tasks every day.

I always find myself dropping balls when I have less to do, not more. When I have lots of things to get done,  I manage my time much better.

Setting up good practices now is a good habit to get into, so when you get really busy you already have great habits!

If you want more lessons on time management, check out my Productivity videos on my YouTube channel. There are more than 50 free training videos for Virtual Assistants there! 

How to Build a Virtual Assistant Service Package

Do you get stuck trying to create service packages for your Virtual Assistant business? You are not alone.

This is one of the questions I get asked most often – how to package your services.

Virtual assistants know that when we charge clients for a package of services, we all benefit.

Trading hours for dollars is not a bad business model, but there are downfalls to it.

One of those downfalls is that you max out how much money you can actually earn. Because it is based solely on your time, and you only have so much time, you hit an earnings ceiling, and sometimes that happens very quickly.

Or, if you choose to work 60 to 80 hour weeks to earn more money (which some VAs do!), you will soon suffer from burnout. And then you will lose clients, and your income will go to ZERO!

Sounds dramatic, I know, but it really is true.

Any VA who has charged by the hour before knows that this is exactly what happens.

So. We talk about packages.

But there seems to be a lot of mystery around how to do it. Or at least how to do it properly.

I moved my clients to packages so long ago that I sometimes forget that someone taught me how to do it!

So now I’ll teach you!

Here is how you start to build a service package:

1. Write down all of the things you do for your clients. 

All of them. Go back as far as you need to in your records to figure out what services you offer. The list should be comprehensive.

2. Write down all of the services you offer on your website.

These are the services that you tell people you offer. Why the extra step? Because sometimes there are things on your website that you are not doing for clients. It's a double-check!

3. Go through both lists and start to categorize the tasks that are on them. 

Think of categories like organization, business correspondence, marketing, networking, list building, client communication, payment processing, wherever you find a common thread – that’s a category. Some services offerings/tasks can be in multiple categories.

4. Next, go through your client list.

Write down their business info: what they do, who their clients are, and what types of things they need support with (whether you are doing those things for them presently or not).

5. Categorize your clients as well. 

Who do you really love to work with? What do you love about them? Who do you prefer not to work with? Why not?

6. Finally, have a look at the lists of things that you created that your clients need support with.

Are there other things you could be doing for them that you are not currently doing? (Keep in mind this is not a wish list, but an actual ‘I have experience doing this and I could offer it to them right away’ list).


Now you have your pieces!

Take your categorized service listings and apply them to your favourite clients.

Build Your Packages

To build the packages, start with basic items (ie a regular newsletter) and then add on other complementary services (services that build on one another – ie social media posting of the newsletter, article marketing, blog post, etc.)

Voila! You have basically created a service package for a client that you love to work with.

Don’t worry if those examples aren’t on your lists.

Types of Packages

You can build a client care package, a list building package, a social media package, a graphics and web package, a bookkeeping package, a general admin package, a calendar management/follow up package … any service you provide can be packaged if you just think about what you can put with it to enhance it.

Set Your Prices

Now, from there, you need to decide what your prices look like. I suggest starting with a basic package price and then adding on additional services to come up with premium package prices as well.

For now, start with building some packages and in another blog post we will talk about how to price them.

I have a system that will help you understand what your billable rate should be, and how to build great pricing structure from that.

And certainly if you need help to get yours on paper (or post its!), have a look at my self study program How to Package Your Virtual Assistant Services  which will walk you through the steps to do it for yourself.

What Counts as Billable Time For Your VA Clients?

What do you charge your Virtual Assistant clients for? Just time on task? Or more?

Quite often, I see posts in the VA forums talking about time tracking and billing.

One of the topics that is discussed a lot is around what is billable time to your clients and what isn’t?

And the answers you see posted would probably surprise you. They definitely surprise me!

The short answer is that anything you are doing for a client should be billed to them.

Here’s a quick example.

When you go to McDonalds (I use McDonalds as an example often!), you don’t leave with anything that you haven’t paid for. You get your sandwich, your drink, and you get your condiments and napkins on the counter adjacent to the cash. Maybe you didn’t see the napkins and condiments itemized on your bill, but everything you are leaving with is factored into the price you paid – including the staff that served, the machines they used to process your order, and the lights over your head.

It’s the same thing with your clients.

You provide a VA service to them. The service includes what you do for them (ie managing their scheduling), and everything else that you need to use to provide that service for them. These things are what make up your billable rate. You need to make a certain amount of money in your business to cover your expertise and your expenses.

I’m not talking about your internet and your other overhead expenses – I’m talking about all of the time you spend looking after their client work.

If you can not earn a profit in your business, then you won’t be in business long.

Now let’s talk about the itemized stuff.

Aside from doing the client’s scheduling, what else do you need to do to manage their work? With VA work it’s mainly communication and administration. Do you bill for these things? If you do not, then you are giving away your time.

What specifically? Phone calls, meetings, updating the project management system, reading and responding to emails.

It is important to factor all of things like communication into your billable rate – and find a way to do all of it efficiently.

Some Virtual Assistants do not charge their clients for this time. They call it ‘included’ but what if one client sends you one email a day and one sends you 20?

The assumption would be that the one who is sending you 20 emails is a larger client, who is probably paying you for more time. But it’s not always the case.

I once had a client who LOVED her email. She was a writer, so words were her craft but I used to dread seeing her name in my inbox because it was there so often. One Monday morning I logged in to see more than 80 emails from her, that she had sent over the weekend. Eighty (I counted them). And she was a client who was billing only 5 hours a month with me.

I had another client who LOVED phone meetings. She didn’t like to write or type, so she wanted to speak on the phone every time she needed to tell me something. A phone call every day adds up quickly – even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes, never mind the fact that you have to stop everything you are doing to take the call.

As a service business, your time is your money. You need to get paid for it.

That means everything you do for a client should be getting billed to them. If you were not there helping them in their business, they would be doing things themselves.

And yes, we all want to be giving and generous – there is never a problem with that. As a VA, that is one of the best things you can be – provided that you are not giving your time or energy away for free.

Clients are paying you to work with them. So charge them accordingly to get their work done. Your time is as valuable as theirs (actually it’s even more valuable, in my opinion!)

Charge for your phone time, your email time, your project management system time. If you don’t like the idea of itemizing that kind of thing, fix a monthly rate to it, something like 15 minutes a day for communication with a client is only 5 hours a month. But then be sure to track it so you are sure you are billing them the right amount.

Nobody should be working for free. Your clients don’t, and you shouldn’t either.

What’s billable? Anything you do for a client (honestly - except sending them their invoice each month!).

Factor in everything you do and you will be happier in your business, and your clients will be happier too!

For more tips and resources on making your VA business more profitable, sign up for a free CAVA membership today! Connect with VAs like yourself, and have a look around at our resources, while you consider full membership in our association!

5 Tips for Better Follow Up in Your VA Business

Where are your clients coming from?

Are you getting great clients easily from the people you come into contact with on a regular basis?

Or are you struggling to find clients - and maybe even taking on clients that you don't really want to work with, just so you don't turn down the money?

If you aren't meeting enough business people, that should be your first step in trying to get new clients.

But if you are meeting business people and still not getting clients, your follow up procedure probably needs work.

How many sales conversations have you had this week? this month? this year?

The more people you talk to about your business, the more clients you will get. It's just a numbers game. Honest!

A recent Hubspot survey (and many others!) says that it takes 5 to 7 marketing touches to bring someone from a new prospect to a client.

Are you following up with people 5 to 7 times? Are you following up with some of them at all? For me, it's the statistic more than that 'marketing' piece that is important. You have to connect with most people more than once to get them to advance their relationship with you in order for them to start working with you.

Here are 5 steps to set up a follow up system that works to get you clients:

1. Create a master list, database or CRM.

Keeping everything in one place is the most important part of managing your follow up (other than doing that actual follow up, of course!) Set up something that works for you. For some people that's a notebook, for others (like me!) it's a Google Sheet, and even others use a database, CRM or app on their phone. The key is to work within your habits. A beautiful database that you never use is useless. Keep things simple to start with and find a way to use it every single day so that it becomes a simple habit.

2. Record every interaction.

When you connect with someone, you need to find that master list and update it. That's part of why it needs to be so accessible for you. If you don't keep things up to date, it will not be effective for you. I use a Google Sheet because I can access it from my PC and my phone and anywhere else online. So when I speak with someone I can update it with my most recent notes and it is always current. With the many ways we can connect with people these days, having a central place to record it all is essential.

3. Communicate with intent.

When you are looking for those 'touches', be sure that you have a reason to connect with someone. Creating the intent - the topic of conversation, if you will - is essential when you reach out to connect with them. Maybe you know of an event that is coming up that you want to tell them about, or an industry trend that you are reading about that you want to share, or maybe it's just a check in to ask how their business is going. But be sure you know what the intent of the communication is before you send it.

4. Schedule time to do it daily.

Daily follow up is really important. When you are talking to people every day about your business, you will end up with a lot of conversations going on at once. Of course that doesn't mean that you have to email or message or call everyone every day! But you should reach out to at least a couple a day. It makes the routine regular and helps you stay on top of all of the relationships you are building.

5. Ask for a sales conversation only when the time is right.

When you are prospecting and doing follow up, patience is a virtue. Don't connect with someone and right away ask them to talk to you about working together. You want to nurture the relationship with anyone you connect with. When the time is right, you can ask the prospect if they want to chat about you helping them. Or, if they aren't your ideal client, you might ask them for a referral. But always make sure it's time for that and not jump into it.

Following a few rules when you are doing your follow up helps you to keep organized, on top of things, and authentic in your relationship building.

Remember you are going to be in business for the long-term. Connecting with potential clients is about the long game. Treat your prospects well, keep in touch with them, and you will find that you will get clients more easily. And you'll probably even find the networking part FUN!

For some tips on how to manage your sales conversations once you get there, check out this free training video: The Sales Conversation. There are over 40 free training videos for VAs on my Youtube channel!

How An Accountability Partner Helps You Grow Your VA Business

Did you reach the last goal you set in your business?

Good Virtual Assistants set goals, just like all good business owners. It's how we grow, and it's how we get better at what we do.

Whether it's business or marketing related, there is nothing like achieving a goal you set for yourself to help you celebrate your success!

But if you are setting goals and then just not reaching them - then, honestly there is no point in setting them. You have to do what you say you want to do!

However, all is not lost!

All you need is someone to help you stay on track - an accountability partner.

An accountability partner is someone you choose to partner with in your VA business, that becomes your confidant/e, your cheerleader, your butt-kicker, and even your strategist.

When you start a partnership with someone else, you help each other with moving ahead in your business - and helping you to get done what you say you want to get done.

Just like we do for our clients!

Our own VA business 'stuff' often gets left by the wayside as we focus on client work - but our business can't grow if we don't nurture it.

Here are a few tips for you to find and work with an accountability partner:

Find an accountability partner. 

Look for someone who understands the VA industry or business. You don't want to spend your time explaining everything all the time. Ideally another VA might work - but it's not necessary, as long as your partner understands how the VA industry and role works. You can look in CAVA for one - just reach out to your colleagues!

Build a partnership with structure.

Don't keep it casual. You want to have a structure - a regular check in call is going to be essential to your success. Figure out how you keep your records of what your goals and actions are (I suggest a shared Google Doc you can both access and update). And be sure to schedule and structure your phone call so you both stay on track for reporting your updates.

Help each other build better habits and routines.

The hardest part of getting things done in your VA business is thinking you have more time than you do. We are all busy, so that's why we don't get things done to begin with. Try to help each other move slowly but surely. If a goal is too lofty (ie get 10 new clients in a month), you won't reach it. You want to set goals that you can reach (especially in the beginning). If you think your partner's goal is too big, challenge them to break it down so it's more manageable.

Set each other up for success.

Make sure that you are both at the same place in your business - both committed to doing the work to help yourselves and each other. Commit to being present and supportive on your check in calls. Schedule them and be honest with what you have done and what you haven't. Your partner can't help you if you are not being honest. 

Accountability is an essential piece of your business. Getting a partner is simplest way to get started. If you want support from a group, be sure to have a look at my Inspired Action Mastermind Group for VAs - a low-cost, high value coaching program centred around monthly goal setting and weekly accountability. 

Get more details here: www.YourVAMentor.com/inspired 

Freshen Up Your Social Media Content with These Tips

Do you get stuck when it comes to social media content?

Many Virtual Assistants say they don't know what to post, and so they end up either wasting time, or posting nothing at all.

But social media is one of the best tools you can use to market your VA business.

I don't know about you, but when I come across someone that I might want to work with, I immediately check out their online presence, and that includes their social media profiles and content.

No matter what your service offerings are, I want to see that content in your social media posts.

If you are struggling with what to put out there, here are some tips to help you get unstuck, and getting your profiles to work for you.

1. Plan ahead

So many VAs try to just post spontaneously, and then they say they don't know what to post or write. Your social media is marketing - and you need to present a cohesive message to your audience that lets them know what you do and how you can help them. Without a plan, you will not be able to make sure that your message is consistent and clear.

2. Focus on 1-2 platforms

It is tempting to be everywhere and do everything, but the more you try to do (especially without a great plan), the more you will dilute your efforts - and your results will reflect that. Focus on 1 platform at a time, and really do it well. Facebook or LinkedIn are usually the two biggest places that VAs post. Clients are generally in one or the other, and you will have the time to interact with people better when you don't have to go 5 places. Master one platform, and then start to work with another.

3. Schedule and Be Spontaneous

Some people will tell you to never schedule any social media, but it helps to make sure you are consistent. Don't rely on scheduling everything, however. The idea behind social media is to be social. Schedule one post a day to Facebook, and make an effort to be present at least once a day to share and be social. When you aren't present, your content will reflect that.

4. Curate Great Content

Your social media channels don't have to be all about you. Find content that others are posting and share that with your audience as well. Of course make sure it is congruent with your own marketing message. But you don't have to reinvent the wheel with every post. If you see some great information that someone else has shared about a topic that your audience will be interested in, share it. They will appreciate it!

5. Check Your Messaging

Make sure your messaging is consistent with what you are talking to clients about on a regular basis. If your service offerings have changed, or if your target market has changed, make sure that your social media has changed too. It's important that your marketing message is consistent across your online channels. You sometimes don't know how a client finds you - so you want your message to be the same no matter where they are finding you.

6. Create Your Own Images

Sharing other people's images is easy - but it's not always the best idea (or even legal!). Creating your own images helps you to ensure that you have original content - and you can brand them to suit your business. It is a fact that posts with images garner much more interest that posts without them. Do yourself a favour and have some images made or make your own with a software like Canva.

7. Educate, Don't Sell

Many VAs get challenged by the ratio of content to sell their services versus those that don't sell. You will hear percentages like 20% or 25% sales posts. But what you really should be focusing on it educating your audience. When you do that, you are seeding your service offerings without providing a link for them to buy something. Focus your posts on providing information and your audience will get the message that you can help them.

Whether you are new to social media, or stuck in a rut of 'I don't know what to post', it's about strategy and congruency. 

Freshen up your social media by taking these two things into account. Sell less. Educate more. Make things look nice, and branded for your business. Share relevant content always. Schedule but be present.

To make sure your marketing message is congruent and working properly for you, check out this blog post:   Get The Most Out of Your Marketing Message

Don't Be Wendy Whiner! Get Better at Networking with These 5 Tips

Are you good at networking?

Networking is really just talking to people about your VA business, either in person or online.

But when I ask VAs if they are good at networking, they tell me it is something that they dread.

So instead of networking with potential clients, they hang out in the VA forums and online groups with their colleagues. And they develop terrible networking habits!

You've seen them - maybe you even are 'them' - Wendy Whiner. Always complaining, or looking for someone to agree with what they are complaining about. (apologies to any Wendys out there!)

You really need to be networking with potential clients.

But even if you are spending more time in the VA forums, then I have some tips for you on how to practice your networking there, so that you get better at it (and then move to business groups!).

I see VAs talking to each other ALL DAY LONG in Facebook groups and other online forums.

I shouldn’t have to tell you that you will never get clients by spending your days in VA groups.

But it’s not just the time being spent there. It’s what I see being posted there.

Do you know what they are talking about? How crappy their clients are. Or how uncertain they are about their skills. Or how they can't even find clients because Upwork refused their profile.

These posts bother me so much.

Why? Mainly because they are not a good use of anyone's time. And some of the groups even have potential clients in them which makes VAs look even worse.

If you are going to seek out support from - or give support to - your colleagues, you need to start to develop the right attitude and skill - to do it well, so it supports both of you. You might even find a great collaboration or referral colleague!

Here are 5 tips to get better at your networking:

1. Find a Great Support Network

Where do you find support for your business? Many business owners seek it out through their colleagues - and VAs are no different! If you want to be successful, you need to surround yourself with others who are working towards success as well. Fresh ideas, advice and camaraderie is important as a business owner, but especially one who works virtually - alone - all the time. A free VA group with thousands of members is not always the best place for you to grow, or to get the best support. If you can't find a support network that gets you excited to share and support the others in the group, keep looking. There is one for you!

2. Offer Advice Only From Experience

One of the things I see VAs do all too often is offer advice they are not qualified to offer. That's not a dig - it's a simple truth. You should only offer advice when you have had experience with the exact situation that is being discussed. If a VA is asking about business advice or advice about a client situation that you have no experience with, simply don't respond. Don't guess at what you think you would do. Think of your VA colleagues as your clients for a moment. Would you offer your client untested advice in a similar conversation? Probably not. 

3. It's Not Personal, It's Business

Keeping emotions out of business is challenging at times  - especially for women. But if we don’t learn to separate the business from the personal, that makes for difficult conversations with people. When you are networking with colleagues, look for the opportunities to lift everyone up by focusing on the business impact of the discussion - not on how it makes you feel. Business is business and when you remove the emotion from decision making and how you handle certain conversations (like money!), it is often so much easier. Sounds easier said than done – until you try it and you’ll love it!

4. Come From Abundance

When you are struggling to find clients, it is hard to stay positive. It gets difficult to watch others celebrate getting new clients if you aren't. You might even feel that other VAs are somehow taking your clients. Having a poverty mindset will take its toll on you. It's important to remind yourself every day that there are plenty of clients for everyone. You just need to find and connect with yours. Creating and maintaining an abundance mindset - where you know that there is enough for everyone - is so worthwhile.

5. Keep a Positive Mindset

Stop complaining! As a VA, you are a business owner. You must act like one everywhere you go. A negative mindset will soon take over your thoughts and will reflect in your actions. Work on reframing your thoughts when they go to the negative side. If the forums suck you in and drag you down, stay away from them for a week (or forever!). Focusing on a positive mindset not only helps you, but it helps those around you. Connect with other excited business owners – who need your support! You might even get a client!

Simple advice, right? I know it’s difficult to do. That’s why it takes practice and good daily habits to help you maintain it.

I urge you to try it.

Focus only on positive messaging for a week – in what you post yourself, and in what you respond to. Skip over everything else.

I think you’ll find that you are in a better frame of mind. And that’s the vibe you’ll be putting out there for your potential clients. They’ll notice!

For more tips on how to think like a business owner, check out this free training video Creating a Business Mindset. There are over 50 free training videos for Virtual Assistants on my Youtube channel. 

7 Tips to Get the Most Out of a Live Virtual Assistant Conference

Attending a Virtual Assistant conference often come with expenses – registration, of course, and sometimes travel costs. So many VAs shy away from going to them when they see them.

I recently attended the IVAA Live Summit in San Antonio, Texas with 40 other VAs. Getting together in person with your fellow VAs is not just fun, but it helps you grow as a business owner.

Attending a Virtual Assistant conference is different than any other business conference you will attend because all of the content and event activities are focused around our industry – VAs. The attendees are all VAs, and the whole theme is how to help you make your VA business better.

Here are 7 tips to help you get the most out of attending a live VA conference:

1. Deepen Relationships

Just like you build more know, like and trust with your potential clients when you meet them at in person events, the same is true for VAs. But at a VA conference, the relationships you are building are with your colleagues. They GET what you do. You can be relaxed and connect with others, ask questions about problems you are dealing with in your business, and just make friends!

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Share

Many conference hosts and speakers will have ice breakers in their talks or events that help you to share some information about your business that you might not have otherwise put up your hand to share. Don’t be afraid to share when asked to. You are always in a safe space at a conference with your colleagues – and you might just get the advice you need from VAs who really understand.

3. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

You know more than you think you do. Many VAs struggle with their own value, or focus on what others are doing instead of what they should be doing. When you gather with a group of VAs – many of us have been in your shoes – trying to find a way to make money and not feeling like what we already know how to do is adequate. Successful VAs will show you that you have special skills right now, and that should be what you focus on right now to get clients.

4. Focus on One Takeway

We have all gotten conference brain-freeze at one time or another. There is so much information that comes at us in a short period of time, it can often be overwhelming. To manage what you are taking in, at the end of each session, focus on just one thing that you can implement in your business moving forward. Virtual Assistants often think we have to do it all to be successful, but it’s better to find one nugget from each speaker that you can use – and then build a plan to implement the other stuff at a later date.

5. Social is Essential

One of the biggest reasons to attend a live VA conference is to socialize with your peers. Usually there are breaks so that you can network – but don’t forget to also change seats after each speaker or break – so that you can connect with new people throughout the event.  If there are meal breaks, get together with others to deepen your relationships with them. And if there are after-hours social events, be sure to take part. Many VAs are introverts but the social aspect is an essential way to help you realize what an amazing camaraderie Virtual Assistants have.

6. Ask Questions

Never be afraid to ask questions when you are at a VA conference.  Sometimes the speakers or the hosts are trying to fit their information into a box of time – and they can leave out details you need to process their advice or information. If something is unclear or you need further explanation, ask. You are probably not the only wondering – and you will get more out of the session when you completely understand what is being taught. And – by standing up to ask a question, you introduce yourself and your business – and the others will remember you when the event ends.

7. Take Pictures

Long after you are back home, you will have memories of your time with your VA colleagues. But pictures are worth a thousand words. Be sure to take some photos of the event. Not only can you savour your memories of time well spent, but you can also use them on social media and in your blog, and help you remain excited about the connections you made and the learning you received.

If you have not yet attended a VA conference, consider doing so.

You will grow relationships with Virtual Assistants that can turned into accountability partners, strategic partners, trusted colleagues, and even some of your best friends.

You will learn how to make your business better – topics vary from event to event, but often cover things like business foundations, mindset, marketing, skills, and so much more… the same things that you learn at other business events, but they are all tailored to Virtual Assistants at our conferences.

The VA Conference Live in Ottawa

I invite you to check out our upcoming live VA conference in Ottawa on June 7-8, 2019. This is our third annual VA conference in Ottawa, and every year we make it better for you! This year we have introduced a theme of Confidence - and will have expert speakers teaching you how to improve your mindset, branding, value, message, content, marketing strategies, and more. For more details and to register, visit:  www.TheVAConference.com

Dealing with Difficult Clients

Do you ever say yes when you really would prefer to say no?

We spend so much time in our Virtual Assistant businesses trying to find clients, we rarely stop to think about what we do if they aren't that great.

You know who I'm talking about ... the clients who make you cringe when you see their name on your phone or in your email.

Our support professional persona almost always contains the 'people-pleaser' gene, and we never really want to say no to people when they ask us to do something for them.

We might put up with behaviour from clients that is not really acceptable - if those clients think of us as their 'help', or their 'staff'. It's not fun.

But who wants to turn away clients and lose the revenue, right?

Dealing with difficult clients is a necessary thing to learn how to do well in your business. It will help you attain longevity and be in business (happily!) for a long time.

You teach people how to treat you.

And it's up to you to teach them to treat you well!

So what is a difficult client? Here are a few behaviours that might be defined as difficult:

Breaks your boundaries.

If you have a preferred method of communication (email) and the client is constantly messaging you or calling you instead, they need to be taught the right way to communicate with you. Don't respond using methods that are not allowed. Tip: If a client texts you, email them back and let them know you got their message but to please use your communication channels so you can keep your paper trail of their work all in one place.

Micromanages your task list.

Your clients are hiring you to help them in their business because of your expertise. You should be the one managing your tasks and your schedule. You get to say what gets done and when - not someone else. You need to work with lead times and deadlines with your clients so that everyone has enough time to fit the work into their own schedule. Tip: Be proactive and communicate well. If a client sends you a task request, acknowledge it and let them know when you will complete it. Part of micromanaging comes from the client not knowing if you got their request, or not knowing when you will do it. So tell them!

Last minute work

We mentioned lead times above but last minute work is really important to address. If your clients are constantly sending you their newsletter the morning it needs to be sent out, you need to stop it. Let them know what lead time you need to get it done properly, and then hold them to it. When you consistently do last minute work, you are developing bad habits that clients will find hard to break. Tip: The easiest way to stop this habit is to simply refuse to do the work. Rush fees rarely speak to clients. But when their work does not get done because they are not organized enough, they will find a way to get organized.

Difficult clients are often just clients that have been allowed to creep boundaries or work scope. Not always, but often.

Don't let anyone treat you the way you don't want to be treated.

Act like a business owner. Treat the clients with respect. Set rules for them and hold both of you to those rules.

Everything will be clearer and your communication and your work together will improve vastly. Promise!

5 Effective Ways Virtual Assistants Can Follow Up To Get More Clients

Follow up that falls flat is wasting your networking time.

As a virtual assistant, you probably know by now that everything in your business can’t be done virtually.

Most things can – but when it comes to meeting new clients, the quickest way is still in person.

When you see people face to face, trust builds more quickly and easily.

Online connections have their place, but face to face networking is really something you should get used to in your business.

And when you do, make sure you have an effective follow up strategy.

Meeting people in person takes more time, so you want to make sure you are making the most of your time by building a solid foundation for those new connections.

Here are 5 effective things you can do to follow up with a new connection:

1. Collect business cards or contact info.

When you go to an event, you often meet more than one person at a time. It will be difficult to remember all of the details about everyone, so be sure to get their contact info so you can reach out to them afterwards.

Even if you think you have only met a few good connections, it saves you time when you get home to connect again.

Bring your own business cards to hand out as well. The other person may not contact you (if they don’t do good follow up!) but it is always professional to be able to hand out your card, and often it becomes a conversation starter.

2. Send them a resource or something of value.

After you have met someone, send them an initial email letting them know that you enjoyed meeting them, what you liked about the event, and something that you think might be of value to them.

Sometimes that is a link to one of your blog posts that was the topic of a conversations. Or maybe you send them the name of a book from an author you spoke about. Or a link to and event you discussed.

Whatever you send them, make sure it’s in line with what you talked about at the event. Relevancy is important – it shows that you were listening.

3. Ask before adding them to your mailing list.

Even though you can technically add someone to your mailing list when they give you their business card, always ask them first. I always prefer to have people reach out directly to me after I give them my card – rather than just starting to send me their newsletter.

Because it often takes up to 10 ‘touches’ for someone to move from being a prospect to a client, you don’t want to lose them right away by dumping them onto your newsletter list. Those touches really should be made personally if you met face to face.

4. Introduce yourself afterwards if you didn't have a conversation.

Some events allow you to put your business card at everyone’s place setting, or they provide you with a swag bag with marketing materials in it.

If this is the case, and you find yourself with a handful of business cards, start at the beginning. Reach out to the person and introduce yourself as you would have in person. If you can get the opportunity to have a quick phone call it’s even better.

Try not to discount anyone from their business card. Reach out to everyone. You never know where your next client will come from.

If someone doesn’t look like they might be your client, they could still have a great network, and be a potential referral source. Take a few minutes to explore their business and you might be surprised.

5. Connect with people on their social networks.

After every event, take some time to connect with everyone you met or came into contact with on social media. That doesn’t mean add them as a friend on Facebook. You can do that, but I prefer add only actual friends to my Facebook. But by all means check out all of their social media pages, and follow or like the ones that are suitable.

While you are there, explore a little bit about what they post and who they are speaking to. Add that information to your follow up notes in case it is relevant to your conversations.

Social media is meant to be social, so don’t just follow them and be done with it. Take the opportunity to reach out and send them a personal message. And like and share their stuff. The best way to get a referral is to give one first. The same goes for social media. Share other people’s stuff and they’ll share yours.

The fortune is in the follow up.

You may have heard that saying and it’s true.

Why spend your time networking if you are not going to work to make those connections stronger?

And when you develop a system that works for you, your follow up can be flawless and regular. And you will get clients sooners.

For more great info about networking for your VA business, check out my free networking videos for Virtual Assistants on my Youtube channel.