Search Up #vatip for Some Good Suggestions

A few tweets from the end of February, examples of #vatip posts.

A few tweets from the end of February, examples of #vatip posts.

Whether you’re swamped with your work and could use some administrative help or if you’ve ever just wondered what in the heck virtual administrative assistants even DO, Twitter has some answers for you.

Search for the hashtag #vatip, and virtual assistants all over the place are sharing what their skills are, what they’re doing for their current clients, ideas that have popped up while working on various projects, or things they wish they were doing more of.

When looking for a VA, you might want to consider a few important things.

Not all VAs are equal.

Sometimes the work that needs doing is something that also requires a bit of savvy or previous experience, something that needs some decision-making or creative problem solving. Maybe it’s a regular task you’d like streamlined while it’s done, and at the end you’d like a document that outlines a new standard operating procedure that any person could pick up and use to duplicate the process. Other tasks involve handling sensitive information, like company passwords, email addresses, or customer information. For these, of course you can get references and have your VA sign a non-disclosure agreement- but you should work with someone you really enjoy working with. Someone you can trust. I don’t totally want to dis cheap international VA firms, but having one person on some of these tasks is best for all those reasons you can imagine.

If you’re one of these people, you probably need a VA.

Creatives, sole proprietors, non-computer savvy people who work with their hands, artists… I’ve worked for all these sorts of people. In every case, they were amazing at what they were doing, but really needed someone to nail down systems or to help with their growth.

For example: an artist is great at painting. Then there are all these paintings. Assembling a statement with examples of recent works and sending that document along with a well-made press packet to a wishlist of galleries in other cities, thus landing new gallery shows and beefing up their resume, would be a great thing. The artist continues to paint, the VA takes on that press packet task. No struggling to find the time or to learn how to make a pretty press packet. Come up with a budget, hire a VA with previous experience who understands a bit about how galleries work. Done.

Know what you want, but be ready for advice, too.

Most times I’m working WITH rather than FOR my clients. As a person augmenting your passionate pursuits, virtual assistants have a unique perspective. I often have ideas for ways to expand, things to cut, and ways to streamline. I’ll have edits I want to make to documents or websites or I have things I think they don’t need to spend energy on anymore. I often find myself gently offering advice to my clients that saves them time, money, and hassle. In fact, beyond the tasks themselves, I see this as my chief mission as a consultant. I’m not here to be obedient. I’m here to make a positive impact.

Hiring a coach? Maybe you need a virtual admin.

This one is pretty self-explanatory, considering that last paragraph. If you’re feeling chaotic or like you’re running in circles, maybe you just need someone to take a look at HOW you’re working and actually do some of the legwork to make it better. Having a coach tell you what you maybe might need to do is all well and good. If you’re in the weeds or trying to get bigger, you need more hands. More brains would be awesome too, right?

How about you?

I have more thoughts about how admins could help you. Costs nothing to chat with me and discuss some ideas. An email back and forth with me could change how you think about your work and about the value another brain, another set of eyes, and another attitude along with you in your endeavors.

Pick a Name and Stick With It

My PMQG Name Tag!

This post is about a tool called NameChk, a tool that helps you search across multiple platforms to see if a username is available. I really wanted to share that with you, and the rest of this is an anecdotal case where I wish I had known about it earlier.

I recently had the opportunity to provide coaching to a marine consignment shop in Oriental, NC. We did a little crash course in how they could use social media tools to stay in touch with people who visit their shop and to introduce themselves to people who would probably be coming by boat to Oriental in the coming season.

I sketched out some goals, prioritized the order of those goals, and made sure they knew that they could use these tools anyway they like. I gave them some ideas of posts to get them started- but I had the feeling they also needed some pieces of the bigger picture.

They’ve just bought the shop, and they’re new to branding. I started with a google search, and realized that even though I had been to the shop earlier that day, I didn’t know the name of the place. So I asked.

“It’s either Oriental Marine Consignment or Marine Consignment of Oriental,” she said. Oh poop.

No blame, no shame. Here’s where a good friend and good consultant steps in and advises. On a google search, both are going to come up, but you definitely don’t want to have this on your business card, that on your twitter account, this other logo over here that has it one way, and then your sign on the door says it another.

So I backed it way up. Instead of rushing into setting them up with a page, which feels really good to do at a consult like this, I made sure to drive home my points about having a logo, sticking with a voice, and definitely, deciding what your business name is so people remember it and know it’s you talking.

That’s kind of odd, and we don’t think about it a lot of times, but if someone were to freely and subtly move from one business name to another in the course of a conversation, it’d seem kind of sly and you wouldn’t be sure that you were talking about the same company. That uneasiness betrays the trust part of having a relationship with a brand.

So enter NameChk. Let’s say you’ve got everything else together. You know what your business is called, you have your logo and your branding- now you’re going to go out and set up some accounts with social media outlets. How sweet would it be to have the same username everywhere? This makes it easy for people to find you everywhere.

I don’t have the same name everywhere. My business used to be called Wicked Neat, and people know me as that on twitter. I could change my username on there, but I’m still not sure about it. What do you think? Should I be righthandanne on twitter? Does it matter?

Politics and Business- Should you be vocal?

AIGA Get Out the Vote Poster (Blue)

With election day right around the corner and with newspapers giving their official endorsements, it seems like it’s time to decide what side of the fence you’re on here.

Yup, you. You as a person, an individual, a business owner, an employee… you’re all these things and you’d better be voting. Apathy is not the stuff of business owners or people who succeed, so don’t be apathetic in any arena of your life, friend. Get to the voting booth.

You might also be the voice of your business, and it’s mighty tempting to use the audience you have to send a message that you feel is important. Here are a few things I’ve been thinking about lately as I’ve been cruising around Twitter and Facebook.

You know your audience better than anyone, and depending on what you’re selling, taking a vocal political position might benefit you. 

If you sell hammers for a living, you’ve got democrats, republicans, and everyone in between coming to buy your hammers. Maybe you’re not the one to take a stand politically in your social media or on your website. But heck, if you sell nature vacations or guns, you might really want to consider saying which candidates you’ve found to be the best to elect to ensure your crowd can get your product. Don’t be silent just because it seems like a good point of decorum, there are lots of cases where this would help rather than backfire for you.

There’s a lot of noise out there already. Avoid being just another yell in the cacophony. 

Have something new to say or have a personal story to add to the conversation at large? That’d be worth sending out there into the ether, because that really sounds like something we could all benefit from reading or seeing. There are already a lot of rants out there, and we’re wading in other people’s general opinions- we’re all tired out here. We’re looking for substance, we’re looking for calm, and we’re looking for intelligence at this point. Be that guy.

If you’re going to stick your nose out there, be a proponent for rational discourse.

It’s easy for all of us as voters, family members, customers and sales folk to want to blame one side or another for some of the tripe we’ve been subject to. Taking a side doesn’t mean you need to be angry or negatively impactful. Please, research your claims, say why more than you’re saying what, and give us some meaty bits to chew on.

At the end of the day, lead by example.

Tell your people to vote. Tell them to care. Respect their many and varied positions. Erase apathy, because apathy might be why they haven’t picked up your latest whatsit yet.

Do business with integrity and honesty. Dislike lots of packaging and have strong feelings about environmental issues? You have the power to eliminate as much packaging as possible from your products whether you’re clerk at a counter or a CEO. Admins- use vendors who share your views and your values and produce goods and services that do good in the world.

Still wondering if it’s a good idea for you to take a stand on something publicly? Comment here and let’s chat about it.