Blog

Blog

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.

Struggling to Find Virtual Assistant Clients? Look at Your Numbers!

This Strategy Will Make Finding VA Clients Easier

Are you still having trouble getting Virtual Assistant clients through networking?

I hear this often from VAs in the online forums. They feel like they are always networking but not getting clients.

It can be very discouraging when you feel like you are doing ‘everything’ to find clients but you are still struggling.

We take it personally and the defeat can actually make many VAs throw in the towel on their business.

Look at your numbers.

How many clients are you actually looking for?

If you were looking for 100 clients, then you would have reason to be discouraged if every time you went to an event you came home with nothing. It would be an uphill battle to try to find 100 people to work with you.

Most VAs are looking for far fewer clients than that. You are probably only looking for one (or one at a time). To fill your practice you may only need 5 good clients. Five!

So specifically how many people you need to connect with to find 5 clients? Do you know that number?

Getting strategic about your numbers makes things easier to measure and to set goals that can help you get the clients.

How many you need to connect with depends a lot on where you are choosing to network.

If you are networking in the right place, you might only need to talk to 5 people. Most of the time it’s more like 15 or 20 good contacts that convert into 5 clients.

The point is, it’s a lot fewer people than you think it is.

If your networking is not working for you, you probably aren’t being strategic enough about it. 

Here are a few tips to help:

1.Go only where you know there are potential clients.

If you go to a lot of events and don’t get clients, identify why that is.

Who are you meeting there? Are the people attending 'your' kind of people?

What are your conversations about? What are you saying to them?

2. Know your services inside and out.

If you know who is attending the event, you can decide what you want to talk about, or present, in terms of your service offerings.

When you are in a networking situation, you need to have the answers to the questions the prospective client asks you. It expedites the process of ‘can you help me?’

3. Talk to people to gauge their interest.

Can you help them? If you think you can, ask them questions about their business and chat about how you can think you can help them.

If there is interest, invite them to a sales conversation after the event to explore the possibility of working together. It really can happen that quickly!

Networking strategically works for you much better than just ‘spending time’ networking.

You must have a good strategy to make it work for you.

Figure out where to find the people that you can help. And make the decision to spend your time there.

Focus your efforts on one good networking place, and make it work for you.

When you realize how easy it is to just work with your numbers, you can get clients much more easily.

Set up your strategy and when you find one client, then you simply rinse and repeat the process that got you that client.

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

3 Tips to Use Your Schedule to Get More Done Every Day

Why The Calendar Should Be a Virtual Assistant’s Best Friend

Being organized is a quality that a lot of Virtual Assistants bring to the table in their work.

Keeping client tasks organized and getting things done is even a common part of our service offerings.

But sometimes it’s not the way we run our own business.

Or, sometimes when we bring on a number of clients to work with at once, it becomes more difficult to make the decisions necessary to properly prioritize each client’s tasks and get things done.

Are you struggling with getting everything done in a day?

If so, I recommend using your calendar as much as possible.

Keeping a schedule makes all areas of your business better. It not only shows you what you need to get done, but it also helps you to manage your time around each thing.

Here are a few easy ways to use your calendar to get more done:

1. Schedule your business hours

Make sure that your clients and your family know when you are supposed to be working. Having regular business hours can really help everyone. For your family, it lets them know when not to disturb you, and for your clients, it tells them when they can expect to hear back from you. Business hours don’t have to be super long every day (you could have your office open just a few hours a day), but it helps communication with everyone around you, and it makes things run smoother for you.

2.  Schedule blocks of time for work

Use your calendar to block out your day. Jumping from task to task interrupts your brain’s signals too often. If you want to really focus on what you are doing, and become more efficient at it, schedule a block of time anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to work on something specific. That may not sound like a lot of time, but when you are focused during that time you will see just how much more productive you can be. Short blocks also help you to move things around as necessary if you need to. Try it for a week!

3. Schedule your distractions

I know what you’re thinking – how can I schedule something I don’t even know about? I recently came across an awesome suggestion to deal with distractions – it’s called a Distractions List. When you are in the middle of a task, and something distracts you, simply write it down on a piece of paper or in a notebook that you keep beside your computer. Then, schedule time in your calendar to handle the items on that distractions list. If you find that you have a lot of things on your list, you might book in distraction time a few times a day – mid morning, midday and mid afternoon works. Cross the things off your distraction list when you have looked after them, and get back to work!

Bonus tip: When you are scheduling your time, be sure you have a start and end time, so that you know when you are supposed to STOP working on something. If you have ever gone down a research or social media ‘rabbit hole’, you’ll know what I mean. Set a stop time, and stop then. Assess whether you completed your task on time or if you need to adjust the schedule for future.

When you work by yourself like so many VAs do, managing your time is really important. Productivity is really essential to run a profitable business, to practice excellent time management every day. 

Don’t feel that you need to jump when a client (or a family member) needs something. Hold yourself to your schedule, and advise them when you can look after what they need. Put them on your distractions list!

And remember that short blocks of time are more manageable - instead of jamming something new into the middle of your day, see what you can move to another time slot.

Simply put, scheduling works to get more done. Try it for yourself!

For more tips on time management for your VA business, check out my free Virtual Assistant training videos on my Youtube channel.

Time is Money: 3 Tips to Use Your Time More Wisely

Guest Post: Author: Jimmy Cowan www.myspeedreading.com

A Virtual Assistant (VA) charges for their work either by the hour or project basis. The rate charged will depend on the work that you’re undertaking and the complexity of the project. Every VA wants to earn the best value for their time that they are dedicating for their service. So it’s important to charge the best value for your work.

Every VA wants to find success in their work. Time management is a big part of being successful. Our rates, schedule and productivity are all more effective when we manage our time well.

Do you have a plan?

For a VA, time is money. Every minute wasted is a loss of money. A VA must plan their day efficiently. The first thing to do when you begin your day is to plan your schedule so you can complete the work that you desire to finish in that day.

Also, make a plan for that month to achieve the targets or goals you have set for yourself. Ensure that you finish your work in that stipulated time. Planning is very important to be successful. It is rightly said that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.

Can you multi-task?

Multi-tasking is doing more than one thing at a time. Not everyone agrees with multi-tasking. Some say that multitasking reduces the quality of the work, or will cause you to lose focus. In fact, multi-tasking is a skill that you will acquire with experience. As you gain experience, you will tend to be able to juggle multiple tasks more effectively.

Can experience make you more efficient?

In your initial days, you might take a couple of hours to complete work. As you get more experience, you will complete work faster. For instance, if you're a proofreader, and you used to take an hour to proofread a 10-page article. Over time, now you could proofread the same 10-page article in half an hour. So now, you can complete double the work in an hour. Efficiency and expertise come with practice.

So, what’s the importance of reading?

A VA has to read a large amount of information in a day. Things like reading client emails, documents, contracts, blogs, business news, and books to improve their skills.

Most VAs book their time for client work and don't always think about how to improve simple tasks like reading.

Speed reading is a skill that a VA can acquire through practice and training. Being able to read and comprehend things in a more efficient way impacts your whole business.

Here are three quick tips for to become more efficient at reading:

  1. Skimming – Just scan through the documents to pick up information that is important. Skimming is a technique of speed reading. From a sentence or a paragraph, just read the important words or sentences and skip the irrelevant information. This saves a lot of time from reading long documents or emails. Of course this should not be used for proofreading, but practicing skimming is an effective technique for daily reading.
  2. Pointer method – While reading, just keep your finger below the word or line you’re reading and just continue sweeping the finger along the lines or sentences that you’re reading. This method helps in focusing on what you’re reading and you will read at a much faster rate.
  3. Eye Exercises – When you read, you engage your brain, eyes, ears, mouth and more. Our eyes have a tendency to go back and forth while reading. Doing a few eye exercises can help you train your eyes to take in more information by expanding your vision field.

Practice these techniques and you can invest your time more wisely while reading. And you can get more done quickly, which will increase your earnings.

And most importantly, don't forget to take frequent breaks!

When your stress increases, you efficiency and quality of work get impacted. A 5 to 10-minute break every hour will revive your brain and you will feel fresh. A short break will not impact work but will boost your productivity.

For more great tips on how to read more efficiently, visit www.myspeedreading.com.

Building A Business Plan For Your Virtual Assistant Business

I wanted to do a quick video for you today about  building a business plan for your Virtual Assistant business. 

If you do not have a business plan, and this is something that a lot of Virtual Assistants are starting out or who are having a little bit of difficulty growing their business really often don't have in place.

When you write anything down it really helps to reinforce it in your brain.

So when VAs ask me if they need a business plan, my short answer is always: yes.

Because if you want to have any success in your business, you have to have a plan.

You have to know certain things and doing your business plan is what is going to be one of the easiest things for you to do.

One of the reasons that people don't like to do them is they get really scared of massive documents and that kind of thing. So I've got a business plan template that for my clients that I think just fits enough stuff into it.

It's not overwhelming. Well, it is overwhelming if you don't know the answers to things, but it helps you to look at what you don't know yet, what you need to figure out.

It helps you to put strategies in place but it also helps you to make decisions and that's the big thing.

If you have a big gaping hole in your business plan because you haven't figured out what your rate is, or who your ideal clients are, or  what services you're actually going to offer, or how your money's going to look, then that's a really key thing that you need to look into.

So the components of your business plan that I provide to my students are:

Your Business Model

How is your business going to be structured? Are you going to work by the hour?  By the project? By package of services? 

When you look at your business model, you can bring revenue into your business in a lot of different ways.

Are you going to work on retainer?

Are you going to work with a team?

Do you plan to have subcontractors?

Do you have part-time work?

Are you earning commissions?

How is your business going to work? There are lots of different ways.

You don't just have to work one-to-one with clients. That's obviously going to be the main way that you earn income, particularly in the first few years of your business, but there are lots of ways that you can supplement that income.

So you want to look at that and figure out how you can really make the amount of money you want to make. And the business model is a really big piece of that.

Finance and Revenue Forecasting

Because this is a really challenging area for a lot of people, I often suggest to just get help with it. Learn what you don't know.

So if you don't know how to do the finance part of it to figure out what your startup costs are, what you're going to have to pay on a regular basis, what you need to earn pre-tax, and and what you're going to bring into your household, what you need to earn in any particular month, that's what you need to look at.

You need to figure it out.

If I need to bring in $2,000 a month, and my billable rate is going to be around here ("$XX"), how does that actually convert -  how does that make sense for you in terms of client number of clients, or what those clients need to pay you?

Do you need to have two big clients at $1,000 a month? Or can you have eight smaller clients  who pay you $250 a month (is my math right?). So less commitment - it is a lot easier to get clients at a lower level, but you need more of them, obviously.

And then how does that work into how your business is going to be set up? 

So finance and revenue forecasting is really important to learn how to do.

That's something I teach, so I can definitely help!

Services and Rates

When you know what your revenue levels are going to be, then you can break that out into services.

If you need to make $500 per client (or whatever that looks like for you), how does that look and what services can you provide for clients to get them to that level? Determine what your rate is and and how much you'll do.

Services and rates always go hand in hand, so I quite often teach them together.

Clients

Big question! Who are your clients going to be?

A lot of VAs think they can serve anybody - that they can work with anybody - and although that's not false (it's actually quite true!), it really makes it hard to run a business, whenever you are sort of 'everything to everybody'.

If you target a particular industry for your marketing, in any given time you can determine the markets that you would like to work with.

I settled quite early on, on business coaches because they were often solopreneurs. There weren't a ton of people around. They were the decision-maker in their business. We could develop a one-to-one relationship. They wanted somebody long-term. They needed someone to do the things that I could do, like client care. There was always ongoing business. They did launches every few months, so I could take my marketing stuff and work into that.

So there are lots of different things that you can look at in terms of who your clients will be, and where they'll be.

Sometimes you want local clients. Sometimes you don't want local clients. That's a really big piece of your business plan as well.

Competitive Analysis

A competitive analysis is not about looking at your competitors or other VAs as competition to you. In fact, the VA industry is really really collaborative, and people who are in the industry and doing well, know there's more than enough work for everybody - really good clients!

There are tons of really good clients right now that simply don't have any help, because we're just still a growing industry ourselves.

So doing a competitive analysis (I really hate that word!),  is what it is you need. To look and see what the market will bear for the services that you want to offer.

You can't just sort of fix a price to it and go. I wouldn't suggest it, anyway.

You want to make sure that that the industry that you are going to be working with is able to support the rate that you want to charge. You want to know that you're somewhere in line with what other people are doing.

You can also get some really good ideas about how to package your services, or maybe who to market to, by doing a little bit of kind of competitive analysis for your clients.

Research is always going to be your friend here, but you have to use that research then to make some decisions.

Marketing Plan

You need to really put things down on paper. 

Set your end goal - this is always the way I do goal setting - set your end goal, and then you break it down into the steps that will take you to get there.

You break things down into actionable pieces, and then you can take those action steps and you can break those down into smaller daily activities, so that you can actually get things done.

Looking at marketing in terms of that perspective, what do you want to get? It's probably clients, right?

How do you do that? You need to write it all down. You need to  make sure that you do what you need to do.

When you put these things into your business plan, you can look at them.

You can see where the gaps are, and you can see what it is that you need to get support with, or you just need to make some decisions around.

If it's your rate, you know sometimes it's just set a rate and get going. It's not about looking around, and asking a million other people.

If you don't know how to do some pieces of the marketing, maybe that's where you need to get some support or some training.

So ... it's really important to get your business plan written down.

You can see exactly what it is that you need to work on, and then you can just get working.

There's a really great quote that I love:

Benjamin Franklin says "Failing to plan is planning to fail "

When you put things in place you can see what you need to work on.

You can see what needs to happen next, and it's really going to help your business.

For more Virtual Assistant training, visit our YouTube channel here or click the image below!


 

Skyrocket Your Success as a VA with a Specialty

3 Questions to Answer Before Choosing Your Niche

Are you considering choosing a specialty for your Virtual Assistant business?

Choosing a specialty is a great thing to do in your business for a few reasons.

Working with specific clients help you to:

  • Get your business in front of a bigger pool of potential clients who need the same services
  • Develop specific service packages that you can charge higher rates for
  • Manage multiple clients more easily because you are doing similar tasks every day

But you can’t just pick a specialty out of the air.

To make the right selection, you need to ask yourself some important questions.

Question #1: What am I really great at?

Look at your service offerings. Choose a service (or a combination of services) that you do really well. Starting with what you are really good at is key. One of my coaches told me once: ‘What comes the easiest to you, you should be charging the most for. ‘ and this is so true in business. If you have an amazing skill – organizing, delegating, project management, bookkeeping, business communication – you should consider providing this to your clients. Even if you don’t realize the value behind it, they will.

So what are you good at? Bookkeeping? Client care? Social media?  Start there.

Next question.

Question #2: What do I love to do?

The second question is so important. If you do not love the skills or services that you listed from Question #1, you need to go back to the drawing board!

To make your business happy and healthy for the long term, you need to provide services that you really enjoy. I know how to do bookkeeping, but I don’t like it. Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it.

You really do have to remember that your business is yours and you need drive to keep it going every day. Doing stuff you don’t like to do is not going to do you any favours.

Once you have a list of things you do really well, and that you love, there is one last question to ask yourself.

Question #3: Will people pay me to do this?

Again, take the answers from Questions #1 and 2, and now ask yourself the third question.

Are there people who will pay you to do this? You have to offer viable services to a viable audience.

For instance, I hear a lot of VAs say they love to do proofreading. And while that’s a really important skill, I’m not sure that you could build a business on it alone.

If you can’t think of people who will pay you to do what you do well and love, then you are back to square one again.

To find the best specialty for your business, you need to have services you are great at, that you love to do, and that you can get paid to do. Lots and lots of clients need to be able to pay you to do this!

 


 

Choosing a great specialty is just one of the important steps to building a profitable and sustainable business. For more great tips and information about how to build your amazing VA business, join our free Getting Started as a Virtual Assistant Facebook group here.

3 Great Reasons to Specialize Your Services In Your Virtual Assistant Business

Virtual Assistants who are just getting started in their business often get frustrated by veterans who tell them they need to specialize their services to succeed.

When you get started, anxiety can often set in as you try to find clients.

It can be tempting to say yes to any client, for anything they ask you to do.

But the problem is that soon you will probably realize you are either unhappy with what you are doing, or with what you are getting paid to do it.

When you start your business, you are the one who gets to make the decisions.

You get to decide what you do. You get to decide what you charge. You get to decide who you work with.

But when you are starting to struggle finding clients, it is really easy to give up those decisions when someone says they need you to help them do something.

So getting really specific with what you do and who you do it for from the start is a good business decision.

Here are a few reasons that you want to set up a specialty, or work towards one:

Reason #1: Be Seen By A Bigger Audience

When you make a decision to focus on a particular industry or a specific group of people that need a similar service, you expose your business to a larger, common audience.

Instead of hunting and pecking with every business owner you meet, you can find people in larger groups that are seeking the kind of support you offer.

Reason #2: Improve Your Daily Work Flow

If you offer varied services, you will find yourself jumping from one task to another a lot of the time. When you narrow down the services you offer to a specific niche, you will do fewer tasks every day, and they will probably be tasks that are related to each other.

Your daily work flow will naturally improve when you work on similar tasks, or linear tasks.

Reason #3: Develop Custom Service Packages

As you connect with your niche or target industry, you will learn more about what types of service they need. You can stay on top of trends they are seeing.

You can build packages that really speak to their needs. When you are connecting with the right people, you can build your business any way you want. And you can become the go-to person for your particular service offerings.

Bonus Reason: Charge Higher Rates

When you specialize your services, you can often charge higher rates. Expertise is value, and clients will pay for it when you position it properly.

You might even develop package pricing, which is always good to do because it gets you away from charging by the hour, which can make it difficult to raise your rates.

 


 

Choosing a great specialty is just one of the important steps to building a profitable and sustainable business. For more great tips and information about how to build your amazing VA business, join our free Getting Started as a Virtual Assistant Facebook group here.

I Hate Selling - How Do I Get Clients for my Virtual Assistant Business?

Do you get uncomfortable selling your VA services?

If you do, don't worry you're not alone.

This is one of the most common issues for Virtual Assistants who are just getting started (or who are trying to grow).

Here's the reason: we have usually not had any sales training in the corporate world. It's really as simple as that. We don't know how!

When I talk to VAs who are struggling with this, and I ask them what they say to people when they are networking, the result is almost always the same.

The trip over their words.

They try to educate the client about the VA industry.

They leave the conversation frustrated, and the potential client confused.

But did you know that the most effective sales conversations are simply that ... conversations?

 What are you saying to potential clients?

If this is you, it's a really simple fix!

All you have to do is make all of your conversations about the client.

Not you. The client.

Ask them questions.

  • What do they do for their business?
  • Do they have support?
  • What keeps them busy?
  • How do they find clients?
  • What systems do they use to run their business?

The answers to the questions will help you tell them more about your own business - believe it or not!

And everyone LOVES to talk about their own business (trust me on this one!). Once you start asking them questions, you will be much more at ease because they will end up doing most of the talking.

You will also learn quickly whether you can help them or not.

If you can, great - you can tell them how. It's just a conversation. 

If you can't, then you move on.

No selling involved.

Try it in your next networking conversation.

When someone says to you, 'What do you do?' respond with, 'I'm a Virtual Assistant. What do you do?'

... and watch the conversation develop from there.

There is no need to fear sales - because when you offer support, either you can help someone or you can't.

Sure, you still have to talk about logistics and pricing and all that good stuff, but the general conversation doesn't have to paralyze you.

Leave the infomercial out of it.

Many VAs I know avoid in person networking for this reason alone.  They think they have to start every conversation with their awkward one-minute infomercial. 

Don't do that. It's not natural and it usually falls completely flat.

Just talk. Ask questions. Answer questions.

Your services will naturally come up. 

No sales necessary. And I guarantee you that you will get clients!

 

 

What You Need to Know About the GDPR (and Why!)

Is your business GDPR compliant?

Unless you've been hiding under a rock lately, you have probably heard about the GDPR.

The GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulations that are coming into effect for people living in the European Union (EU) beginning Friday, May 25, 2018.

Here is what you need to know*:

What is the GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for anyone living in the European Union. (Which countries make up the European Union? Click here). The regulation also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU - so, wherever you live.  The GDPR gives control of their personal data to the citizens of the EU. They have the right  to know who has their data, why they have it, what they are doing with it, who they are sharing it with, and how to access it and delete it.

The GDPR actually came into being in April 2016, but there has been a two-year transition period in place. It becomes enforceable on May 25, 2018.

Why is it important?

The GDPR is important to residents of the EU because of the rights they will now have regarding their own personal data worldwide. It is important to those outside the EU because if you are collecting, processing or holding the data of someone in the EU and they have not consented for you to have it or use it, you could face stiff fines (up to $20 million pounds or 4% of your company's worldwide income). This is a law, and it is enforceable, so that is what makes it so important to understand. 

What kind of data is included?

The regulations include what is called "Personal Data". Basically, the main purpose of the GDPR is to protect the personal data of EU citizens. Personal data is anything that is identifiable to a specific person. It's not just about email addresses. It's about IP addresses of computers, names, addresses, credit card information, and more.

How will it affect my business?

If you are not connecting with or marketing to residents of the EU, you could be safe. However, this doesn't mean that you have EU customers. This includes your customers, your email subscribers, your website and blog visitors, anywhere you have contact with EU citizens is affected. If you are using custom audiences for your Facebook Ads, you will need to be sure your mailing list knows. And if you are using Google Analytics or Facebook pixels on your website, you are collecting cookies and that needs to be made compliant (for EU citizens) as well. 

The GDPR regulations are for data processors and data controllers. , etc. the basis of the GDPR is that it includes data processors and data controllers. The official definitions of these two are:

Data controller:  Article 4 (7) ‘controller’ means the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data; where the purposes and means of such processing are determined by Union or Member State law, the controller or the specific criteria for its nomination may be provided for by Union or Member State law;

Data processor: Article 4 (8) ‘processor’ means a natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which processes personal data on behalf of the controller;

Data controllers are you, and anyone else who works within your company who has access to the data that is being collected. 

Data processors are the businesses or services you might use to process the data that is being collected.

Simple example: If you have an opt in on your website, and you use Aweber as your email service, and you have Google Analytics activated on your website, YOU are the data controller. Aweber and Google Analytics are the data processors. Make sense? So your data processors are your ecommerce/bookkeeping systems (or services), your email system, etc. 

What do I need to do to comply with GDPR?

Review your processes and update as necessary:

  • Maintain records of the data you are collecting and processing (or having processed on your company's behalf). 
  • Make a list of those who are processing your company data for analytics, mailing lists, marketing, payment processing, online storage systems, web hosts, website, etc.
  • Ensure that you have proof of consent for personal email data (ie mailing list). If you can't prove consent, obtain fresh consent.
  • Implement a system for people to choose the way you can use their data (ie allow them to opt out of any and all forms of retargeting, marketing, segmentation, and communication).
  • Develop a plan to remove stale data from your company's records.
  • Be certain that your business's data processors are GDPR compliant.
  • Educate your employees, subcontractors and partners on your procedures if they are handling your data in any way, or provide a Code of Conduct for them to adhere to.
  • Update your Privacy Policy on your website to include GDPR compliant language (or add a special GDPR addendum to your existing Privacy Policy if you prefer and link it to your existing policy). Add a link to this page on every page of your website, and on your data collection forms (order forms, email opt ins).
  • Update your Terms of Service on your website to include GDPR compliant language. Link your terms page to your Privacy Policy page.
  • If you do use analytics or a Facebook pixel, install a notification (pop up) to tell people their data is being collected when they visit your site.
  • Ensure that your contacts are able to contact you easily if they have they questions about their data that you may be in possession of, or request for their data to be deleted from your possession ('the right to be forgotten').
  • Develop a system to handle a data breach, should it occur.

Get more information:

If you want the whole shebang in plain English, this is the best article we have found to explain it clearly: Varonis (Michael Buckbee): GDP Requirements in Plain English

Suzanne Dibble is a UK lawyer who provides excellent information about GDPR compliance. She has a free checklist here: http://globalava.org/gdpr . She also runs an excellent GDPR specific Facebook group (download her checklist to get an invitation to join it), where you can get specific help.  She also sells a GDPR Compliance Pack that provides all the forms you might need to become compliant, if you want a handy little package (the webinar is very helpful too!) 

The Bottom Line:

Whether you are actively marketing to EU citizens or not, these are good changes to make to your business. It probably won't be long before something like this is rolled out by other countries as well. Data protection is a huge topic of discussion in all areas of business. Don't avoid the whole thing and hope you don't get caught. Do what you need to, to become compliant. Know what data you are collecting, develop good procedures to handle, process and store it, and make sure your connections know that too, and you'll be just fine. 


Disclaimer: The Canadian Assocation of Virtual Assistants (CAVA) is not an official GDPR resource. CAVA is a educational website and blog, and the information contained within this site in no way constitutes legal advice. Any person who intends to rely upon or use the information contained herein in any way is solely responsible for independently verifying the information and obtaining independent expert advice as required to become GDPR compliant.

*Article sources: Suzanne Dibble (UK Lawyer), Information Commissioners Office (ICO), Varonis Systems Inside Out Security, Europa EU, Wikipedia (definitions),