What qualities make an ideal Virtual Assistant
Having an assistant is one thing, having a GREAT assistant can change the trajectory of a business?
But, what does that mean — what does it take to be a great virtual assistant? After working as a Virtual Assistant (VA) for over seven years and building a program to train and place Virtual Assistants I have identified the three main attributes that make an outstanding Virtual Assistant. When on the hunt for new talent business owners should look for the three following traits in candidates to ensure themselves a long-term and successful relationship. Aspiring VAs should heed the advice and understand what it takes to separate themselves from the rest of the pool.
Ability to “Figure It Out”
As Marie Forleo always says, “Everything is Figureoutable.” This is the backbone of being a Virtual Assistant or an assistant in any capacity for that matter. The assistants that are excel are the ones that attack any problem, big or small, with confidence. The answer is never [shoulder shrug] ‘I don’t know.’ The answer should always be, [big smile] ‘I’m not quite sure how to do that but give me a day and I’ll figure it out.’ This type of attitude showcases a VAs initiative, passion and overall ownership of their position within the business. In today’s technological age the answer to almost any problem is only a Google or a YouTube video away. By solving problems and figuring out solutions themselves the VA is expanding their skillset and increasing their value to the business.
Now, I know I said everything is figureoutable but we all know that once in a while their may be that one obscure question or task that may not have a clear cut solution. On this rare occasion, the VA (after exhausting all resources) must be comfortable enough to go back to their client and say, ‘I did my due diligence and I cannot seem to find a solution to what we are trying to accomplish. Can you assist or shall we find someone who can better help us?’
Ability to be solution oriented
In close relation to being able to find solutions to problems presented to them a rock-solid VA is one that is able to identify a problem, before it becomes a problem. This is being proactive in their work and taking ownership and pride in what they bring to the company. I’m talking about broken links, misspellings, inefficient systems, etc. It is someone who goes to their client and says, ‘I have a way we can sell more, book more, streamline, save money, and have fun doing it!.’ It sounds almost too good to be true, but it’s NOT!
Being Solution Oriented is the opposite of being problem oriented. And I think we can all agree that the former is much more preferred than the latter. According to an article on Inc.com by Alain Sylvain:
A leader who is problem-oriented will consider the steps needed to reach the short-term goal of making money — the number of clients required, the budgets required, and so on. A solution-oriented individual will consider the bigger picture — long-term business growth, acquisition, diversification — and create a route to resolution based on that.
Focusing on the short-term goal can only get you so far, whereas solution-oriented minds see the big picture and push to get ahead of the curve. This mindset lends itself to time and money savings. It is doing the extra, ordinary things to become EXTRA-ORDINARY!
Ability to prioritize
The best VA’s are organized and as I mentioned earlier, understand the big picture. They are able to prioritize the needs of their client and understand that the client comes first. They are able to get out ahead of their client and do for being asked. What this means is that VA’s must be excellent communicators, they do not withhold information. They understand their client and their clients' business so well that they can work autonomously. They know what is important to their client and can build out schedules and answer customer's questions before they even reach the client.
Just like in any other business — the client comes first. It is no different in the service based industry of Virtual Assistants. What does this mean — having weekly, dedicated phone calls to prioritize their business needs, sending updated communication each week on tasks that have been completed, solutions that have been solved or ideas for bettering the business. …
Where do you find these individuals?
Finding individuals with this mindset does not have to be difficult. A good place to start may be in the same circles you hang out in. Ask friends what success they are having with their VAs, maybe that person has the capacity to work with you both. Industry conferences are a great place to meet aspiring VAs that share similar passions. There are FaceBook groups abound of great people looking to help.
Once a potential candidate has been found I always recommend an interview so both the client can get to know the VA and its offerings, and the VA can understand what it is the client needs. The client-VA relationship is important and the two parties must be a good fit for each other.
A few questions to ask during an interview that will help a business owner identify the attributes discussed above are:
- “Tell me what you would do if you are asked to do something and don’t know how”
- “What is your weekly process for communicating with your clients?”
- “If there was an issue in my business and you found it first, how would you handle it?”
- “When was a time you were faced with a problem that you couldn’t find a solution?”
- “What do you do personally to learn and expand your skillset as a Virtual Assistant?”