Today, social media is prevalent. It’s the preferred communication among the younger set and studies have shown that a considerable amount of hours are spent on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during work hours. Most companies would respond by banning social media site access in offices as it is believed to take away from the productivity of workers. But this strategy simply boomerangs negatively, with employees instead opting to resign and move where rules are not as strict or resort to checking their sites on their own devices with data plans anyway.

In a nutshell, this is the best way for companies to deal with it: lose in the battle but win the war. Accept that social media is not entirely good or bad in itself, it is just a matter of having the right perspective and providing the right controls – the kind that respects the employee and at the same time, benefits the organization. Here are some ways to accomplish this in the long term:

1. Have a social media policy.

Most strict rules come from a place of fear. For companies, they are usually afraid of what the employee will share and the amount of hours they will spend online. First of all, owners should work with HR in accomplishing a holistic rule list when it comes to content. What’s deemed as confidential? What can help the marketing team? Be specific and if needed, list down the documents which can harm the company if shared. The last thing the company wants is to have an open ended memo which can be interpreted in many ways. Having so also protects the employees from other colleagues who may want to malign them online.

Instead of coming from a place of fear, come from a place of opportunity. Word the policies in such a way that they benefit the employee instead of seeming to stifle them. The goal is not to censor them but to ensure their safety and privacy as well.

2. Set smart limits.

The amount of bandwidth that is used for watching movies on YouTube for example can be detrimental for the company. So instead of banning the sites altogether, opt to have a social media hour for example so that these sites are not on round the clock. Rules such as not allowing downloading of movies or music are understandable. If the company security is compromised, invest in tablets which anyone can use for socials instead of individual PCs logging in.

This way, employees shift their mindset from something negative to positive. They are seen as the responsible adults that they are who plays a big role in maintaining the professional integrity of their workplace.

3. Provide the content.

When it comes to marketing, employees are the best brand ambassadors. It’s literally a gold mine usually untapped by most organizations. Since people are inclined to use social media, why not make them talk about the efforts of the company as well?

Nothing beats a company’s employee when it comes to announcing all its messages. And with the right guidance, it just might be the secret sauce to the company’s sustainable success, one post at a time.

Let’s face it: there are a lot of virtual assistants today. Due to cheaper laptops and PCs as well as more reliable web connection right at the comfort of one’s home, setting up practice for virtual assistants is very easy. But still, not all can maintain their practice and there is more to having a slew of clients to keep one’s business sustainable.

This is where the benefit of having a strong personal brand as a virtual assistant comes in. Having one makes the person not just a producer but also an expert in the job – one that ensures clients will always choose them over everyone else. Personal branding elevates the person into a different level of providing service to someone who is also a great strategic partner for several projects.

How does one even begin? Let us count the ways:

1. Find a niche.
For beginners, it’s understandable for a virtual assistant to accept every project that comes their way. However, creating a list of clients who pay well should also serve another end: finding one’s real passion. From this, the virtual assistant can find out which type of work they will be more than happy to extend their names to and do for a very long time. Passion fuels interest and this leads to one being willing to studying that field until he or she reaches the expert level.
Then once that is established, getting more projects in that line of work makes him or her attributable to that field. Finding a niche can also come from careful study of what is in demand; this ensures lasting demand for one’s services in the long run.

2. Start a blog and have social media presence.
Having a blog and writing about the topic further, beyond the needs of the client, establishes one as a go-to person. This also makes one’s name stand out on search engines as clients search for people to connect with to help them with their needs.
Having social media presence also makes the person more reachable. With a carefully curated posting schedule, social media can work wonders for one’s reputation. At a glance, client will know the kind of person they are dealing with.

3. Let them talk about you.
Good PR is talking about one’s self, great PR is other people saying good things about you. Just like that famous saying that what people say when you are not in the room matters, working on one’s PR always makes for a fantastic business. Testimonials from clients matter and sharing these on Facebook or Twitter are not in bad taste at all – it is simply about letting people know of the good you do.
Connecting with local media and the community is a good strategy as well in getting the word out when it comes to one’s practice.

4. Network.
Being a virtual assistant can be home-based but it does not have to 100 percent home bound. Attend conferences and network. Meet people in the same business. Effective networking makes one aware of the latest in the field. At the same time, it is the best time to know more about the competition.
The best of them, with the strongest personal brands, are always ready to tackle it head on.

It’s true: people work for money. Even people who love what they do and are willing to work for free won’t do it without a salary. The corporate world has always been perceived as a ladder with people climbing looking at the “carrot” or more money as incentive. However, there is a new generation of employees now filling up the workforce called the millenials. According to a growing body of studies, this generation is not just in cubicles for their paycheck. They are indeed looking for something more.
But with an equally growing evidence of more mature working generation’s working motivations, there is a higher demand for work and life balance, something that goes against the very nature of providing more money as it equates to more responsibilities.
What is an employer to do? Here are some ways to make a winning team that’s on the ball even without the pay increase:

1. Instead of a ladder, create a jungle.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s famous COO and author of Lean In said it best: think of one’s career and the rise to the top as a jungle, not a ladder. In it she explains that going sideways or learning laterally is the way to go, with different departments and different managers contributing to one’s capabilities.
One sure way to achieve this is by having a great mentorship program wherein managers are transformed into leaders, providing key insights to mentees when it comes to the industry. It’s true, not all employees will stay even after being mentored, but the act itself shows the employees how invested the company is in their growth.

2. Make them do personal projects—on company time.
Google is famous for their innovative nature, but innovation rarely happens during the throes of work, which is why employees there always have personal projects that they work on during company time.
For employees who have kids or who commute, money is not the problem—time is, so providing at least three hours from their 40-hour work week to work on personal projects is giving them ample time to rest and yet be productive at the same time, something that the company in the end will benefit from anyway.

3. Offer telecommuting as an option if possible.
Family first is a message every company espouses or at least they think they do. But like most mantras, this is easier said than done with a ton of deliverables on a person’s head. Telecommuting is a way to bridge the gap. This can be offered to employees who are parents to kids at least 10 years old and below for starters.
The great thing about telecommuting is that employees feel that their company values their families and at the same time trusts them to get the job done.

4. Have a cause.
Most employees spend most of their lives on the job, no doubt about it. And it is truly something that no salary can pay for. Having a solid CSR program then gives the employees the chance to work for something greater than themselves and makes all the hours worth it.
No matter what, a company’s vision to make a difference counts to attract and maintain employees who are determined to make it happen without the need for adding zeroes to their salaries.

Virtual assistants are on the rise. According to popular outsourcing platform Upwork (formerly known as oDesk), they have 3 million job postings per year amounting to $1 billion. It also has 9 million registered freelancers from all over the world. That’s 9 million competitors worldwide, and this figure doesn’t include yet the numbers from the other popular platforms like Elance or Freelancer.
With more businesses hiring virtual assistants, the industry is bound to grow in the years to come. So how do you make sure you get noticed in the midst of millions of virtual assistants who are probably offering the same services or even better skills than you do?

1. Have your own website.
Yes, that’s right. Have your own website. Most virtual assistants would have their profiles on their platforms, but only a few would think of setting up their own website with their own domain name. Go for paid web hosting. There is a tendency for people to not take you seriously when you don’t have your own domain name according to an article on Forbes. The website can showcase your portfolio and your services, too. You can also publish blogs, which can help you establish your credibility and expertise in your industry.

2. Create a winning LinkedIn profile.
Gone are the days where employers only ask for your resume. Oftentimes, they would check your LinkedIn profile instead. Your LinkedIn profile is not just your resume, it’s also your branding tool. Take full advantage of its features. Have a professional photo taken for your account. Maximize the headline space by not just writing your job title, but also a summary of what you are offering. Finally, the summary below must highlight your skills, goals, and accomplishments. When writing this area, keep in mind the keywords that your potential clients might use when looking for the kinds of services that you offer. Aim to have multiple endorsements from your past clients or associates.

3. Upgrade your skills.
Regardless of the industry, learning is an activity that shouldn’t stop if you want to stand out. Stay ahead of your competitors by keeping abreast of the latest trends in your industry and equipping yourself with skills that can make you more desirable as a virtual assistant. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you can upgrade your skills by learning how to use the latest software for designing or knowing how to do web programming, so your client doesn’t have to outsource this part of their business requirement to another freelancer. Ultimately, you are helping them save time and cost.

4. Treat your proposal as a business proposal.
When applying for a job, treat your cover letter as a business proposal. Don’t just say what you can offer. Understand what the company needs. They don’t always say this on their job requirements, but doing a little research like checking their website or asking the client for more information can help you determine needs that the company hasn’t even thought of yet. This also shows your resourcefulness and determination to win. Mention their needs and propose solutions that can help them solve their problems.
More than just hard work, the best virtual assistants who get noticed are smart and strategic. Take the time to plan for your career, work on it, and success will come naturally.

 

Virtual assistants are at the forefront of the so called New Economy. Their ability to leverage their skills set and at the same time take advantage of working on their own terms is a dream come true that most corporate fiends can only wish for. They own their own time, they work on their own terms, and they manage their work load, making them the masters of their own fate.
But not all is rosy as the next problem faced by virtual assistants is the load of work they receive from various clients and how they can manage their time efficiently. Versus their employed peers who can leave work at the office by 5 p.m. or during the weekends, virtual assistants basically can work overtime just to be able to reach the amount of money they want to achieve to live. But it does not have to be that way.

Here are some ways to beat the non-stop working hours and live more as virtual assistants:

1. Carve time for exercise and leisure.

Having all the work at home and without the need to commute or the time clock to look at, virtual assistants can literally overexert themselves. The best way to eliminate this is by setting vacation leave schedules, and setting specific time for exercise, hobbies, and entertainment. Like work deadlines, the schedule for these activities should be non-negotiable.
Although it may be sort of counterintuitive, having a set number of hours for work can save a virtual assistant’s sanity and establish limits.

When it comes to keeping a healthy body, virtual assistants should invest in exercise. This is because all that sitting can really wreak havoc to their health. Also, especially for those in more creative industries, having a life can be a good way to make them more competitively advantaged. Investing time and energy on enriching activities such as reading and painting for example, makes them more in tuned with their creativity, resulting to better output for client.

2. Have a hero client

Virtual assistants still need to make a living. But instead of taking small projects to achieve the amount of money needed for needs and wants, look instead for a hero client who can provide the most salary for the effort exerted. Think of it as applying the Pareto principle. This ensures a steady and reliable paycheck and helps the virtual assistant focus on providing great service versus constantly looking for clients.

3. Work to your strengths

Another way to make more time is by choosing projects that play to the strengths of the virtual assistant. Not only does it shorten the learning curve, but it also makes the output faster to make since the virtual assistant has a natural affinity to the job at hand.

Aside from one’s strengths, choosing jobs that are related to the person’s passions can be a great productivity boost. Because of the inclination to the work at hand, procrastination is prevented and learning further on the topic makes the virtual assistant a thought leader on it as well.

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When it comes to creating more business for a company, nothing beats the good old traditional business proposal. It contains the correct information as the basis of the decision to be made by the potetntial client. As a document, it provides a clear and concise opportunity for any company to present their products and services in a portable manner. It extends the opportunity to make a sale, even without a meeting.
Here are some tips to create one that not just gets kept, but more so, acted upon.

1. It comes in many forms.
Usually, the business proposals come in printed format all placed in one folder. But think of it this way: if every person in the world does it, imagine how many of those folders are found in one’s desk? Rise above the clutter by being creative. Choose other formats such as video. Not only is it environmentally friendly, it’s also more engaging and impressive.
Using other formats that are more digitally driven also gives the chance for the business development person to simply send a link to the decision makers in the company without hassle. This makes the proposal portable in different gadgets, increasing its chances of being seen in the first place.

2. Address the company’s goals.
Sue Clayton of Entrepreneur says writing a winning proposal should start with clearly understanding the client’s requirements. If the client has released a document called Request for Proposal or RFP, study it and the company’s goals, then dig deeper. Analyze what the company needs from an objective and unbiased outsider’s point of view.
What can you do to help the company achieve their goals? Do you have the experience, manpower, and other resources to meet the needs, or even better, exceed the expectations of the client if you get the project?

3. Copyedit the whole thing.
Proper grammar can make or break a business proposal. Coherence in text can make a big difference. Remember, it is this document that makes the meeting possible. The content must be therefore polished to perfection.
No matter how beautifully printed or creatively designed a document is, it’s still nothing without accurate and on point copy. Work with a corporate communication specialist who can help you better articulate your ideas for the proposal.
In general, great copy is one that gets the message across without the need for more words. Entrepreneur recommends the following format presented by Shervin Freed, co-author of Writing Winning Business Proposals:
a. Current Situation. – outlines the needs of the company.
b. Goals – explains what you want to achieve.
c. Proposed Methodology- presents the steps you will take to achieve your goals.
d. Time and Cost – shows a detailed list of the requirements needed to complete the project, including the timeframe and the resources.
e. Qualifications – lists your experience, expertise, and strengths
f. Benefits – explains the many ways your proposal will benefit the client.

4. The success relies on the follow through.
Even if you get out reams upon reams of business proposals, it would still be for nothing if there is no strong plan for follow through. To maximize this, consider hiring virtual assistants who can do the follow up and monitoring of responses. They can also update the leads list, which the sales team can refer to for selling communications. The virtual assistant also provides a human touch to the business proposal and the fact that there is consistent communications give the potential client the impression the company is really adamant in winning their business.

With these steps, a formidable list of business leads is not far behind.

When it comes to helping your virtual assistants stay productive, nothing would be better than gaining their loyalty. This is because loyalty from your virtual assistants or VA’s does pay. When your VA’s are loyal to you, they will be willing to go beyond the call of duty to finish their tasks, they will do their best to make you happy and you may never have to go through time-consuming process of looking for VAs ever again. But the question is, how do you make your VA’s loyal to you?
The following are ways to increase VA loyalty, wherever they are from.

1. Ensure good match between the job and their skills.
Building loyalty starts from the hiring process. When your virtual assistant has the skills to succeed at the job and the kind of attitude that will blend with the values of your team or company, it would be easier to find happiness at work. A happy virtual assistant, much like happy regular employees, will never think of leaving a job that makes them feel that they’re valuable to the company.

2. Give regular feedback about the job.
Offering feedback about their job, especially positive feedback, will make virtual assistants feel appreciated for what they do. Praising their efforts for a job well done or offering constructive criticisms that will help them learn from their mistakes builds trust and loyalty.

3. Be friendly.
Treat VA’s as friends and they will reward you with loyalty. Friendliness means you care about them, engaging them in interesting conversations, getting to know who they are beyond the skills they can offer at work, and treating them with respect at all times.

4. Help them create a path to career success.
Providing growth opportunities can come in many forms. You can pay for their training or further education. You can also give them a raise or a promotion, if you have a hierarchy in your organization. A good way to encourage growth is by setting goals at the beginning of job then reward appropriately. The key here is to help them find fulfilment in the work that they do for you.

5. Trust your VA.
Most virtual assistants and even regular employees who work in a physical office would hate micro-managers. While it’s important to oversee their progress, it is actually offensive to ask about how they are doing every hour they work for you. Aside from being offensive, this may actually be also counter-productive. Instead of letting them focus on the job, you are wasting their time by asking for unnecessary updates all the time.
Loyal virtual assistants are a gem. Build trust and loyalty, and you will see the direct rewards of having a dedicated virtual assistant to your business.