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.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

CBC Radio Interview

I was interviewed today for the morning program for CBC Prince Edward Island. The interviewer, Mitch Cormier, asked me a lot of questions about the Virtual Assistant industry and about my practice. Even though I was nervous, he said it would sound great on air. My business name and website will be noted and hopefully the interview will be available online.

If you want to listen for it go to CBC Radio One PEI between 6a.m. and 8:30a.m.AST (5a.m.-7:30a.m.EST). It will either be on tomorrow or Monday.

All of this came about due to my press release (see earlier post). Mitch Cormier picked it up through a Google alert. So get your press releases out there. If you need help, get in touch and we can work on a press release that will get you noticed.

OIVAC Podcast/Blog Tour

"Join us on this exciting tour. Follow Sharon as she travels the Web answering challenging questions about the VA industry. If you are a podcaster or blogger, select an open date and host a visit. It's fun, and you can obtain answers to burning questions on your mind about the virtual assistance industry." OIVAC Website

This great tour will stop here on Saturday, April 28. Remember to stop by and check out the questions and answers and pick up the clues. This is the link for the Tour Schedule:
OIVAC Podcast/Blog Tour

Monday, April 23, 2007

My First Press Release

The following is my first ever press release:
Virtual Assistants In The News
The Virtual Assistant industry is catching the eye of the national media.

The Virtual Assistant industry is being highlighted in the national media once again. In the May issue of Reader's Digest, an article on ways to make extra money states, "If you've got word processing, transcription, bookkeeping, public relations or website design skills, you may want to try life as a virtual assistant." The article goes on to quote VA and author, Diana Ennen whose book, "Virtual Assistant -The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA", is a must-have manual for every Virtual Assistant.

In an upcoming episode of the "Today Show", another VA will be featured. A film crew will follow her through a "typical day" in the life of a Virtual Assistant.

"The Virtual Assistant industry is growing rapidly and having it noticed by the press will only help its growth. People will learn what a VA is and either want to become one or hire one."

The Virtual Assistant industry has been featured in national publications in the past. TIME, Businessweek, The Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today have all published articles about Virtual Assistants.

According to Darrell Williams, owner of Right-Hand-Man Virtual Assistant Services, "The more exposure the Virtual Assistant industry gets, the better. Explaining the concept of a VA to potential clients is half the battle. National press exposure makes this so much easier."

For more information on Virtual Assistants and what they can do for you, visit