If you’ve read the first three posts in this series, you’ve done the prep work necessary to create a successful working relationship with a virtual assistant. (If you are still stuck on just what tasks you can have a virtual assistant do for you, download my Top 100 Ways You Can Utilize a Virtual Assistant list). Now it’s time to actually find one. And that brings us to Top Secret Tip #4—
Where Do The Right Virtual Assistants Hang Out?
If you’re at the point where you’re desperate for help, this might be where you drop the ball. After all, you needed help yesterday. But Googling the term virtual assistant and going with the first name or two you see is almost guaranteed to lower your chances of success.
This is also going to be the point where many people get overwhelmed by the sheer number of virtual assistants out there and the incredible diversity of what they have (or don’t have) to offer. But if you’ve put Top Secret Tips #1-3 to work for you, you’re one step ahead of most people. You’ve managed to give yourself a very clear picture of exactly what you need for services and even what type of work personality is going to be best for you. You also understand that it’s going to be worth a little extra time to find someone you can work with repeatedly and build a working relationship with.
Your first temptation is going to be to run to Google and type in the term ‘virtual assistant’. Resist the urge. If you do so, chances are your mind is going to be boggled by the sheer number of results and if you’re like most people, you’ll get discouraged quickly as you wade through the results in search of the right one.
It’s not that doing an Internet search is the wrong thing to do, but doing a general search for a virtual assistant can be likened to typing in the word restaurant when looking for a place to have dinner. There’s an easier way.
- My first suggestion is that you ask people within your network or industry if they’ve ever worked with a virtual assistant. Keeping in mind that a virtual assistant that works great for them might not be the right fit for you, it’s still a great place to start looking for someone who can provide the type of services you need.
- The next places to try are the virtual assistant forums. Both virtualassistantforums.com and vanetworking.com give you the option of submitting an RFP or request for proposal in which you can be specific about your requirements and needs. Both sites also have virtual assistant directories, so you can search for a VA based on specialty or location.
- You can also try the Virtual Assistant associations like IVAA and the VACOC. If using either of these there are two things you should be aware of. 1. IVAA is a paid membership. 2. VACOC is a membership by application and screening. Virtual assistants who are accepted have to adhere to the VACOC’s thoughts and ideas on the nature and definition of virtual assistance. Many highly qualified virtual professionals don’t and as such are not included in the directory or the membership there.
- Next, try Twitter. Don’t just do a general “hey I need a virtual assistant” tweet unless your prepared for scores of “I’m a VA how can I help you” replies. You can either be more specific “Looking for a virtual paralegal familiar with Lexus Nexus and electronic discovery” or you can use Twitter Search and look for your terms, for example ‘virtual paralegal’. Checking out the tweeters and the links in their posts may lead you to a possibility.
- My next suggestion would be Google Blog search, again using the terms that fit your needs the best. And of course there are the search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask. These final suggestions are more helpful when you actually have some virtual assistants in mind, but if you do use these for your initial search, be sure to include specifics and not just the terms “virtual paralegal” or “virtual assistant”.
Following these simple suggestions are just another step that will help you to choose a virtual assistant that fits your needs best and in turn can give you a higher chance of building that successful working relationship.
The next post in this series will give you the inside scoop on what to do once you find suitable candidates.