5 Tips for Choosing the Right Virtual Assistant
As the owner of your business, you probably want to do everything yourself because you trust yourself to get the job done. You know what needs to be done more than anyone. Your business is your baby. Your precious, if you will. But listen up, Gollum, you have to let other people help you with it sometimes. In fact, it's critical that you do so.
Allowing others to help you with certain tasks will allow you to focus on the more critical tasks that your business needs in order to survive. For obvious reasons, you shouldn't just go into this blindly. There are things to keep in mind when choosing the right virtual assistant.
1. Understand Your Needs
It is clear that you need help, but what exactly does that entail? Do you need someone monitoring your email? Or will you just need someone to help with customer service. Obviously, because this is a virtual assistant, they won't be doing menial tasks like getting your coffee, so you will certainly have to dig deep to determine the tasks you'll need them to accomplish. Generally, an in-office assistant will work when you do, but will this be the same for the virtual assistant? Can they work whenever they want or do you need them to work when you do?
I know I'm throwing a lot of questions at you, but these are questions you're going to need to ask yourself while you're discerning the tasks that are needed of you. Understanding what it is that you need is the first step to picking the right assistant. This goes for anything in life. If you know what you need, it's easier to seek out help.
2. Check Their References
This one should be a given. If you're going to entrust your business to someone else, you need to make sure they can handle the task. Find out where they've been, who they know, what they've done. It's all important to being a successful virtual assistant within your company. In fact, it's all important to being a virtual assistant anywhere. If their references don't give them much stock, then you probably shouldn't bother with them.
It's pretty easy to put different job histories on a resume, but unless you verify it, it means nothing. Say, for instance, they list that they assisted one of your competitors. Why did they leave and on what terms? Are there any prohibitions to them joining another, similar, company? Where they efficient at their job? Checking their reference will put your mind at ease and guarantee that they're suited for the task of carrying the One Ring to Mordor.
3. Determine Their Niche
You know what you need for your business, but does the virtual assistant? Just because they are an assistant for hire doesn't mean that they should be working for your company. In this day and age, there are good virtual assistants and then there are just virtual assistants. Clearly, you want a good virtual assistant. Many virtual assistants will advertise that they can assist with virtually any business, but that's not necessarily true. Having a background, or a specialty area, will give them a little more understanding of your business. If your business is based in skincare, you'll want someone who is familiar with that industry as opposed to someone who is more familiar with automechanics.
4. Meet With Your Potentials
Granted, while you probably won't see much of your assistant when they're actively working for your company, you should meet with them in person. First impressions are very important. If they weren't, in-person interviews wouldn't be necessary. You can learn a lot about a person when you meet with them in person. Anyone can make themselves sound good on paper.
Meeting with them in person would help you understand how they interact with other people. This could be useful if you'll have them working in customer service. Additionally, meeting them in person will help determine their professionalism with you. If you meet with the person, and you don't feel comfortable with them, how will you feel comfortable with handing over the reigns to your company?
5. Be Readily Available
It is possible that it might be hard to determine if a VA is right for you just by meeting with them or conferring with their references. For some companies, it is a good idea to do a dry run. This wouldn't be a bad idea for your company either. It could help you discern how they act under pressure and how they communicate. If they're unable to be available to you, then they might not be right to work with.
If you decide not to do a dry run and you just want to see how they communicate with you, try giving them a test project and see how they fare with communicating the results to you. Communication is critical in this regard because you don't see your assistant in person. You can't just drop by their office and you likely won't see them in passing. If they're unable to keep you updated or keep in touch, you may want to take a hard pass.
While the idea of choosing a virtual assistant may still be daunting, it doesn't have to be as difficult as all that. One you've figured out your needs, you will be more apt to make an informed decision. There are many agencies around that make it possible to to make several assistants available for review. You can also look at places like LinkedIn, which would make it easier to figure out a potential's niche. Once you have all of the information, you'll be more willing to let your baby go off to daycare.