After finding out what a virtual assistant is and the types of services you can offer as a VA, you decide that this may be the business for you. Now what? Well, you may want to start by having an idea of how to work with clients. Although you’d be working remotely, it’s not completely different from physically working with clients. Of course, you’d be working with people from different parts of the world without necessarily seeing them, but the work ethics will remain the same as working face to face with them.
It may be a little intimidating right before working with your first client, but don’t worry, it’s a completely natural feeling for most people. Just take a deep breath and know that there is absolutely nothing to worry about as long as you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and make sure you’re working with trustworthy clients. Before I get into explaining how to do that, please remember that as a VA, you are NOT an employee. You are a business owner providing services. You make your own rules, your own prices, and work with clients you feel comfortable working with. So, how do you work with clients as a virtual assistant?
Start with a consultation
Many virtual assistants set up a consultation before working with their clients. After the initial contact through email, this is the phase where clients ask any questions related to the services that they need. If you have a website/blog (and you should), this is where you showcase some of your experiences and why clients should choose you as their VA. You shouldn’t have to share your CV/resume because again, you are NOT an employee. Just share your portfolio on your blog/website and that’d be enough. You should try to also have a social media presence where you interact with potential clients and other VAs. This is the time to clarify everything, ask and asnwer questions. Every VA works differently, so be sure to communicate your method of working with clients. It’d save you time, money, and may even prevent headaches on both sides. Most VAs offer 20-30 minutes of free phone consultation, but you can also offer 10-15 or even one hour for free or charge a little. You’re the boss, so do what works for you.
Sign a service agreement before starting any work
Professionally speaking, it is very important to set up an agreement before working with anyone. It is not only a protection for you, but also for your clients. Everything is clear and documented before starting any work. This is where you should write about the names and contact information of the two parties, the date they enter into an agreement, information of the service requested, the deadlines, rates of the services, what happens in case of problem, backup solutions, and confidentiality. Both parties would then sign the agreement. Obviously there are more than just what I have listed; this was just to give you an idea. There are many free samples of service agreements online, so explore and make your own.
Communicate with your clients
Communication is CRUCIAL, crucial and crucial! Did I mention that communication was crucial? Oh, yes, I just did. So you get the point… Please make sure that you and your clients set up various ways of communicating throughout your work relationship. You can communicate by email, Skype chat, Google Hangout, or whatever other ways you find easy. However you do it, just know that communication is the KEY! But please, keep a written record of everything.
Ask for clear instructions
This is related to communication. If your client doesn’t, make sure to ask for explicit instructions for specific tasks you’re supposed to work on. You can’t read minds, so you can only offer the services you’ve been clearly asked to offer. Making everything clear from the beginning makes it less stressful for both of you.
Set up a way to share files
As technology advances, so does the world of virtual interaction. Since you’ll be remotely working with your clients, cloud sharing would be the best and easier way of sharing files. The traditional way of sharing files through e-mails isn’t always ideal. It limits the size of files you can send. There are better alternatives to make it easier. Your client may share with you his/her preferable way of sharing files, if not, share yours. I’ve talkied about tools for synchronization on a previous post, but you can also use the same tools to share documents. You and your clients may also choose to work using project management (PM) tools to work together depending on the type of services you offer. PMs are software/apps/open sites that enable and facilitate planning, organization, collaboration, task management, and serve as file sharing tools as well. Examples of PMs are: Asana, BaseCamp, Redbooth (formerly TeamBox), and Paymo.
Ask for honest feedback, testimonials, and/or referrals
If your client doesn’t give you feedback, ask for one. It would be very helpful for you to know what your client thinks of the way you worked or the service you offered. This is where you find out if your client was happy with your work, if he/she may come back, and/or if he/she would be happy to recommend you to others. Based on feedbacks, you may have ideas of what you’re doing well, what needs to change, or what you can do better. It helps you as the service provider to better your work and lets your clients know that client satisfaction is important to you.
Additionally, you can ask for testimonials and even referrals from happy clients. A testimonial is when your client writes a positive note of how satisfied he/she was while working with you. In testimonials, clients can also write that they recommend others to work with you because of the positive experience they’ve had with you. Make sure to create a Testimonial page on your website/blog and post all the testimonials you get. Potential clients will often read your testimonials before deciding if working with you may be best for them. A referral is when you ask clients to recommend you to their friends/contacts or whether they are happy enough to recommend you. Don’t be ashamed to ask for testimonials and/or referrals. You’d be surprised at how happy many clients would be to recommend you. You’d never know till you ask.
Send a Thank You note/letter
Make sure to always end the work journey with a Thank You note. Send a simple email letting your clients know that you appreciate their business and professionalism. Everyone appreciates a little thank you, and it may encourage them to work again with you next time.
I wish you all the best. If you have further questions about how to work with clients as a virtual assistant, be sure to comment below. I’d be more than happy to answer your questions to the best of my abilities.