Saturday, April 28, 2007

Right-Hand-Man and Podcast & Blog Hopping VA Discuss Industry Growth

Darrell, this is my first stop at a blog hosted by a male, and you are VA too. I love it! I read you are relatively new to the industry, but also recently received great media coverage. So, let me first congratulate you and wish you continued success and second, welcome you to the world of virtual assisting. Since we’re spending Saturday together, let’s just kick back, get comfortable and sip something refreshing as I respond to your questions.
Great idea, Sharon!

1. How is the Virtual Assistant profession growing worldwide?

The industry is actually growing in leaps and bounds. Ten years ago, there were only a few thousand VA's, most of whom resided in the United States. Now, there are at least 20,000 globally situated. More virtual assistants (individually and collectively) are spreading the word about the industry, and new businesses are opening daily. As information about the industry circulates, more and more administrative and executive assistants, office managers, and other experienced administrative professionals are considering alternative business and employment opportunities. Many recognize virtual assisting as a viable, achievable option.

In conjunction with new businesses opening, VA networks are springing up, too. A comprehensive list of international VA organizations, list servs, etc. can be found at the Alliance for Virtual Businesses.

2. How important is it to belong to some kind of network of other VA's?

It is very important to belong to a VA network. Membership provides an opportunity to share experiences and literally combine business with the pleasure of social networking. The VA networking community offers lively discussion regarding topics that directly and indirectly affect your business. They also offer a sense of empowerment and are a non-threatening way to solicit support, learn from peers and develop potential partnering relationships. By actively participating in a network, you have the opportunity to increase your sphere of influence, which may eventually lead to additional income-generating opportunities.

3. Where do Virtual Assistants find clients?

Virtual Assistants can find clients literally anywhere on the planet. However, before beginning your search conduct some research. First, identify your ideal clients, determine where they congregate, join an industry organization – the group, be it a list serv, networking group, association, etc., and listen to their conversations regarding what they want and need. Next, create products or services to meet their desires and gradually begin interacting and sharing your expertise – offering solutions – etc. Once you begin this process and unselfishly share your expertise, clients will find you!

4. How will the OIVAC help Virtual Assistants to grow their businesses?

This year’s OIVAC has a wonderful lineup of non-industry and VA-industry presenters, each offering resources and information specifically designed to help grow your business. As a matter of fact, these resources can be applied to business from any industry. Some of the talented VA's presenting at this year’s convention includes:

• Laurie Dart - Write powerful sales copy that draws your customer to your product or service and results in increased sales and higher search engine rankings
• Mary Lou Ashton - Determine your ideal client, what qualities to consider, where to possibly find them, and what red flags to pay attention to
• Janice Byer – How to respond to Request for Proposals
• Cheryl Callighan - Subcontracting Made Simple!
• Andrea Cannavina - Working Virtually with the Right Technology
• Jeannine Clontz - Business Ethics for Your VA Practice
• Diana Ennen – Preparing for the unexpected

The complete list of OIVAC presenters and their topics is available at the official OIVAC web site.

5) Why do VA's choose to become Virtual Assistants?

There are many reasons why someone would chose to become a VA. They include: control of one’s destiny, spending more time with family, and health issues. The explosion of the Internet and the availability of the PC have made working from home a reality for many with administrative and office skills. Many virtual assistants don’t even realize they are VA's. But, that is changing as we educate more and more people about the industry. I think people are attracted to virtual assisting because of their goals, their experience and the potential of the industry.

Darrell, I’ve really enjoyed my Saturday visit. And, I’m elated to see more men entering the industry. Good for you! Now before I forget, here’s your scrambled puzzle game clue (#28). rfuom. When I visited Shannon Cherry of Cherry Communications yesterday, I left a relatively easy clue. Frankly, some of the clues have just been too easy; so, beginning tomorrow I’m back to more difficult words. Let’s see, Ann Zuccardy of Vermont Shortbread Company is my next stop. Ah, shortbread! I can’t wait!

About Sharon Williams
Sharon is the Chairperson of the Alliance for Virtual Businesses and OIVAC, and president of The 24 Hour Secretary an administrative, secretarial and internet-based marketing support services company. She is the 2006 recipient of the Thomas Leonard International Virtual Assistant of Distinction Award and co-founder of Virtual Business University an e-learning environment for entrepreneurs willing to step towards their greatness.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I think that the OIVAC is a great event and utilizes the power of the internet fantastically!

We just got our booth set up, hope to see you there!

- Mark