When you engage a Virtual Assistant (VA), it’s not like hiring a member of staff who sits alongside you in your office. The VA may not be in the same city or even country. He or she may be in a different time zone altogether. This person can’t interpret your body language or tone, and he or she cannot ask you questions easily if your instructions are unclear.
This means that effective communication with your Virtual Assistant is critical. Here are the 7 ‘be’s for effective communication with your VA.
Be thorough – When you’re giving instructions for the tasks you’d like completed by your VA, imagine you were doing the task yourself – what information would you need to complete the task effectively?
Be-ware of tone – When communicating via email, the recipient of your correspondence is unable to judge tone or read your body language. Something that would be perfectly acceptable to say when you are face-to-face and are able to smile and place inflection in your voice, might come across as offensive or curt in text. It’s always good to re-read your email to ensure it is conveying the right message to your Virtual Assistant. This applies to all email correspondence really! The use of exclamations marks, humour and emoticons can also build rapport with your Virtual Assistant.
Be responsive – In the instance where instructions are unclear or further clarification is required, it’s important to remember that without this input from you, task completion may be delayed. If you receive email from your VA seeking more information, try to respond in a timely manner.
Be verbal – While communicating solely by email can work – I do have a client to whom I’ve never spoken – it is ideal to have a verbal conversation every so often. This conversation can be via Skype, telephone or in person, if you both are geographically close to one another. It is great for maintaining a healthy working relationship and for updating each other on any news that might not get covered in email correspondence.
Be informative – Give updates to your Virtual Assistant on what is happening with your business. You never know when this sharing of information might prompt your VA to offer you some helpful advice or valuable insight. Remember your Virtual Assistant has experience of working with small businesses like yours and may be able to shed some light on something you are struggling with (keeping within the limits of confidentiality of course!)
Be clear on time sensitivity – Your Virtual Assistant has other clients to whom he or she provides services. It is very helpful to know whether a task is of an urgent nature at a first glance. If you would like a quick turnaround on a task, make it obvious – one client places [Time Sensitive] in the subject heading of her urgent emails so those messages get read and actioned immediately. Try not to overuse this, if your email messages are not really urgent, but you consistently mark them as such, the technique loses its effectiveness.
Be appreciative – It doesn’t hurt to say thanks or give positive feedback. Everybody enjoys a pat on the back every once in a while!
So if you communicate well with your VA, you both may enjoy a productive and cooperative working relationship for many months or years to come!
Now it’s your turn, do you have any tips to add to the above list?