No “Gone Girl” Virtual Assistants

Don't be a "Gone Girl" Virtual AssistantI just read a blog post about someone’s bad experience hiring a virtual assistant. The subtitle of her blog post is “When Your VA goes Gone Girl”. Her experience has inspired me to write this post for two reasons:

  1. To help those looking for a virtual assistant avoid this type of experience.
  2. To help virtual assistants not to become a “Gone Girl” VA.

Looking for a Virtual Assistant?

Judy wanted to hire a VA. Her friend had suggested it because she had a good virtual assistant. However, the friend was unwilling to share her virtual assistant. This really surprises me. Most virtual assistants have allotted their work time so they are able to handle more than one client at a time. Perhaps this friend’s virtual assistant really didn’t have time to take on another client. However, she might have been able to help Judy find another virtual assistant that was reliable.

If you have a reliable virtual assistant, please share their information with others. The virtual assistant community is very open to referring others if they cannot take on the work themselves.

Judy also spend nearly a month training her new virtual assistant. Of course a VA may need some training. However, an experience, successful VA shouldn’t require a month of training – and particularly not on most computer programs. A successful VA will already be quite familiar with most computer programs and how to answer emails.

When you hire a virtual assistant, make sure you have a written contract of some sort stating the work to be done, any time frames, payment arrangements, the VA’s availability, and a confidentiality clause.

To recap, if you are looking for a reliable virtual assistant:

  1. Get a referral from a reliable source such as another successful virtual assistant.
  2. Make sure your virtual assistant is familiar with basic computer programs.
  3. Get a written contract detailing work to be done, payment arrangements, availability, etc.

Don’t be a “Gone Girl” VA

Virtual assistants need to have the right mindset. You are not an employee – you are a business owner. Take your business seriously! If you really don’t have time to take on another client, don’t. It’s very bad business form to start working with someone only to find you really don’t have time and then can’t get the work done. There is nothing wrong with referring a prospect to another virtual assistant. The VA community is worldwide and we should be helping one another out – not selfishly trying to keep all the work to ourselves.

Keep up-to-date with a basic knowledge of computer programs and tools a client may use. You should be familiar with how to use Word, Excel, Google docs and spreadsheets, manage email, and use basic social media sites. Take time to build your skills by taking online courses. You shouldn’t expect clients to pay for your time to train yourself on programs you should already know.

Most important: I say this over and over – COMMUNICATE! If, for any reason at all, you cannot do something you’ve agreed to do, tell the client up front. Don’t wait! A client will be so much more understanding if you let them know up front about an issue than if you wait and they find out on their own that you just didn’t do what you said you would. There is just no excuse for not communicating with your client when there are so many methods to do so – text, phone, email, Facebook message, Skype.

To recap, here are a few things you can do to be a reliable virtual assistant:

  1. Be willing to refer a prospect to another virtual assistant.
  2. Keep up-to-date with basic computer programs and tools a client may use.
  3. Communicate and keep your word!

Let’s educate clients so they don’t work with “Gone Girl” virtual assistants, but find reliable virtual assistants they love and work with for many years.


VA Interview: Paula Hill, Virtual Assistant

When Joel and I first met Paula online we knew she was our kind of people. She’s smart, fun and easy to talk to. I hope you enjoy her interview.

Paual Hill

1. When did you start your business?
January 2008

2. Why did you choose to become a Virtual Assistant?
In 2007 I realized I had hit a “brick wall” in my corporate career. I began looking for a new job but wasn’t excited about getting another j-o-b. Then one day I watched a TV news interview of a successful VA out in Montana and realized I could do that! I purchased a couple of books on how to be a VA and with a little prior planning I quit my corporate job and established my new business.

3. What advice would you give new and aspiring VAs?
I have two:
Polish your networking skills and force yourself to get out of the house and meet people.
Do not buy anything at the office supply store until you absolutely have to!

4. What resources have helped you in your business?
I recently read The Commonsense Virtual Assistant and recommend it to new VAs. My local business assistance center and my local chamber of commerce have been a huge help in getting me clients.

5. Share something about yourself.
Being self-employed I tend to work too much. I am not comfortable “just sitting around”. Realizing I need to relax more I recently took a knitting class. It’s the perfect hobby for fidgety people and it gives me the mental break I need.

6. Additional comments you’d like to share.
If you are considering a career change I highly recommend becoming a Virtual Assistant. There is plenty of work for all of us!

Paula’s Contact Information:
Paula Hill – Virtual Assistant

Added Bonus Items for Client Communication Clinic in Vancouver

The Client Communication Clinic in Vancouver Canada on August 6, 2010 includes some special bonus items. In addition to a Grand Prize to be announced shortly, there are two additional bonus items.

Shout outs to Vickie Turley and Christine Giri for donation these bonus items. Thank you both!

Read all the details here.

Grand Prize! To be announced shortly. We will have one Grand Prize Winner!

What's Love Got to Do With It?Bonus #3: Drawing for copies of the book What’s Love Got To Do With It? How to Have the Perfect VA Client Relationship by Vickie Turley. There will be 7 copies to give away! ($19.95 Value)

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn: A Quick-Start Guide for Virtual Assistants

Bonus #4: Drawing for copies of the ebook on CD Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – A Quick-Start Guide for Virtual Assistants by Christine Giri. There will be 5 copies to give away! ($49.95 Value)

VA Interview: Neilia Dudley, Butterfly Blue Virtual Assistant Services

Neilia and I met at a local meetup for virtual assistants. She is enrolled in Sierra College’s VOP (Virtual Office Professional) Program. Her specialty is in Genealogy. Let’s learn some more about Neilia.

Neilia Dudley

1. When did you start your business? 2008

2. Why did you choose to become a Virtual Assistant? To be able to stay at home with my children, continue my education online and supplement my husband’s income.

3. What advice would you give new and aspiring VAs? I would advise taking a class in marketing so you can tell people about your business.

4. What resources have helped you in your business? I have used Virtual Assistant,, and IVAA Forums, and attended class at Sierra College in their VOP program.  I also blog on my website and use Hootsuite to blog on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

I have been personally coached by Sue and Joel Canfield at Chief Virtual  They help me to set and achieve goals, work with my first client, and help me to start marketing myself successfully.  I have also attended the bi-weekly teleseminars which are reasonably priced at $20.00 each.  Additionally, I have purchased two of their books, “The Commonsense Virtual Assistant” and a workbook called, “Building Blocks, Succeed as a Chief Virtual Officer”. I have found these books to be well written, informative, and very useful in getting my business started.

5. Share a success story or something about yourself – a hobby perhaps. My goal as a Virtual Assistant is to use my 15 plus years of experience to help other people in their business life. I also want to share my hobby as a virtual genealogist to help others find their ancestors and build their family history.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today Neilia. Learn more about Neilia below.

Neilia Dudley,  Butterfly Blue Virtual Assistant Services