Online communications are truly the wave of the present. Gone are the days when people would send a letter via a courier. Today, if you want to speak with someone or inquire about something, all you have to do is go online and everything and everyone is yours for the taking. Because of this, a lot of jobs and opportunities have opened up, providing people the chance to work remotely or from across countries, giving rise to virtual assistants who are hired online to do work for clients from any part of the globe.

But despite the lack of face to face communications, there is still a need to maintain a professional demeanor. In fact, due to the lack of context with the help of facial expressions and voice inflections, there is a greater pressure for virtual assistants to be clearer to prevent being misunderstood in their communications whether it is via email or social media.

Read up on some quick tips for a winning online communication tactics for virtual assistants:

1. Place a subject.

When writing an email, always put a subject and make sure that it is pertinent to the items inside it. Emails are not something that people log on to or check via their desktop computers. Emails are a way of life and placing a subject is a way of showing courtesy to the recipient as it makes them aware of what they are about to read.

Furthermore, on a more technical point of view, subject-free emails are redirected to spam or to the junk mail more often than not. So don’t waste that well-written email by placing a concrete thought in the subject line.

2. Use the reply all button with caution.

Nothing puts one’s career in jeopardy than accidentally replying to all. As mentioned, emails are a major communications portal and can be very intrusive. Imagine being inundated by replies going back and forth on a business that you had nothing to do with. So double check the recipient area.

Also, when replying to the sender to confirm understanding, click reply instead. This makes sure that the message is sent only to one person and not to everybody in the email trail.

3. Send big files using big file sharing sites.

Save people’s precious bandwidth and data plans by sending big files such as editable Illustrator files or high resolution photos via a link where they can access these instead of placing them as downloadable attachments. First, they surely would not download it and second, your email will simply clog their whole inbox.

4. Do not be passive aggressive.

When it comes to social media, there is no such thing as a private status update. And if you are friends with a client, then you have basically signed up your account as a professional account, even if it’s personal. All your words can be twisted and misconstrued. To prevent this, stop with the passive aggressive language. If you have a problem for example with a person, settle it privately instead of posting irate messages that other people (read: your client) may think is directed at them.

Mind the language you use and see for yourself how it directly affects your career as a virtual assistant.

Today with so much emphasis with automation and making a business run at its maximum efficiency, many people are fearing the technological changes needed for their coaching practice.

Today there are several programs that are NOT complicated but can be extremely useful in your coaching practice.

Today we are going to cover some of the technologies you can start to use that are for the person who has the only the basic understanding of computers and programs.

CRM– one of the best ways to keep track of your clients, vendors, and even birthdays is through a CRM. These programs can sound a lot scarier than they are. The fact is that many coaches are not using this fantastic tool. Many either have no idea how much time it can save or many are just not sure what a CRM does.

Most CRM shas a group calendar as well as syncing capability to Google and many other calendars. This allows everyone to be able to see what is on the calendar and what is coming up next. This is great for recording launch calendars and other events.

The Customer panel of the CRM is easy to view and understand. Here is where you can enter all of the customer’s information as well as notes, tasks, emails sent and also what products they purchased.

Most CRMs also allow you to set up email campaigns, web forms and also includes a space for document sharing.

A few suggestions for the beginner would be:
• FreeCrm.com is one example. Best of all- it is Free like the name implies, for up to 1 year. After that there is a fee of 24.95 to 35.95.
• Zoho CRM is another good option. This one costs $12-35 a month. Most coaches    would be fine with the $20 a month option.

Online Calendar– this is one of the best tools that a coach can have. The ability for your clients to schedule a time to speak with you via the web can make your job much easier. Many of these will also send out reminders to both you and the client as well as thank you reminder emails.

A few that we suggest for ease of use and pricing are:
• Vcita.com- there is a free version as well as a paid version (pricing starts at 12.45 a month) We currently use the free version and have for years and it has been perfect for our needs.
• simplifythis.com is another option. For $18 a month they offer a calendar software that not only allows booking bit also allows invoicing, reminders, reoccurring billing, and class/group scheduling.

Project Manager– the software can place all of your to dos as well as everyone else’s in 1 place. This is perfect also for tracking and assigning tasks to your Virtual Assistants and other support staff you have.

Some of the easier ones to use that are affordable are:
• Asana- This is a great and powerful project manager. There are also a lot of free “templates” as well that you can use. There is a free version if you are only planning you own to dos. Pricing is based on the number of team members and starts at $21 a month. The interface is simple to use and team members are sent reminders of their tasks daily when projects are assigned to them.
• Zoho also has a project manager. There is a free version if you only have 1 project, otherwise pricing starts at $20 a month. This is also a very easy to use PM and also, like Asana, has good reporting features as well. If you are using the Zoho CRM, Zoho will give you a discount for the multiple purchase.
• trello.com is perfect for the “visual” person. This allows you to visually create boards as projects. There is a free version to try this one out and see how it feels. The paid version starts at $8.33 per month per user.

These are just some of the basic tools we would recommend to start to automate your business. We will be continuing this discussion in the following post. Here we will look at more advance tools that can help automate your business.

Nothing requires more reading that virtual assistants. Being the go-to people for a gamut of tasks and requirements by clients in several industries, it pays very well for virtual assistants to be well-read. Reading itself opens the person’s mind to several types of information and turns it into a sponge. Being well-skilled and well-read makes for a person who is strategic and creative, both skills that virtual assistants can make use of as they tackle client requests moving forward.

But one of the main problems of being a virtual assistant is time. Being self-employed, work comes before self-improvement activities such as reading or even exercise. What’s the best way to resolve this? Here are some quick tips:

1. Have an entrepreneur’s mindset.

Company owners know what their biggest asset is and it’s definitely not their money, their company, or their connections – it’s them. They understand that their asset’s value is closely related to their value as a person, which includes their mind and body. There is a reason why CEO’s such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is known for his well-written and long memos, which is read by his team before any meeting begins and star investor Warren Buffet is well-sought for his reading lists. Reading in itself makes people think better and when they do, they do better.

Instead of thinking how busy they are, making time for what matters such as reading can exponentially improve the business of a virtual assistant.

2. Read everything.

Most people think that reading only involves thick books. On the contrary, reading can happen in the most simple of ways and can start with just opening a newspaper. Opening one daily can be a great start until the habit is solidified.

Love for reading can be espoused by following one’s interests. Do they love cooking? Are comics engaging for them? It doesn’t have to Leo Tolstoy or an Economics book right off the bat. Doing so also makes the whole activity more sustainable as it comes from a place that is driven by one’s passions. Forget the bestseller lists and what’s popular! Read what makes your heart sing.

In fact, it also can be not just about books. Reading materials such as magazines also count and can add to one’s knowledge.

3. Read depending on the industry you are in.

Once the habit has been formed, move on to reading books that were written on the industry one is in. Business books can be quite expensive so starting off with borrowing from libraries or downloading electronic books can be a better option.

In terms of recommendations as to which titles to get, why not get it from the person who knows it well – your clients. They have the most experience in the industry plus knowing that the person they hired is willing to study more deeply into their business is a big boost to your reputation and standing.

So start cracking a reading material, and see where life as a virtual assistant who is well-read takes you!