If you spend any time at all cruising the VA social networks online, you will see something awesome.
You will see collaboration, support, and advice being doled out at a rapid fire rate, in response to questions that new, struggling or growing VAs ask.
When we decide to start our businesses, there is much to learn. Much more than any of us expect I think!
Some of the most common themes for questions are around rates, service offerings and how to handle difficult clients.
So, we take to the forums to connect with our colleagues – sometimes for information, sometimes for advice and sometimes just to vent.
Here is my advice for those who are doing the asking:
- Be clear in your question. Like anything, you will get a better response when you present your post with clarity. Write down what it is you need to know. Read it back to yourself and make sure it all makes sense. Then post.
- Be brief. Although sometimes a back story is required, emotion often enters into things the more you type. When we are talking about business, it’s important to include the facts as you see them and leave out the fluff.
- Take what you need and leave the rest. If someone responds in a way that doesn’t seem to fit, take it with a grain of salt. Look for the advice that seems most suitable and be on your way.
- It’s not personal, it’s business. Although we are all support professionals, business is business. Many of the VAs who offer advice have learned this, so don’t take it personally when someone doesn’t side with you on your post, or if they give you advice you don’t like. It’s business!
- Do some research of your own first. If you belong to a Facebook group, use the Search bar function to search for the keywords. Often your question has already been answered ad nauseum in many other posts. You can often get the answer you need just by conducting a search!
And here is my advice to those who are doing the responding:
- Answer concisely. Like children who ask about the birds and the bees (!), often the most basic response is all that’s required. If you are an experienced VA, try to avoid lecturing.
- Be clear in your response. I’ve seen many VAs answer a question with a question. That can start a mountain of confusion for the already confused VA. Provide the information you have to answer the query clearly.
- Offer advice only on what you actually know. So many of the response posts end up being advice from people who really don’t know the answer. Know that someone who is coming to the forums needs the answer to the question they post. If you don’t have direct experience with it, just follow the conversation.
- It’s business, but it’s still personal. When anyone asks for advice from colleagues, it can be a humbling experience. Admitting that we don’t know something can be difficult to do. Be kind and try to remember when you were new too. We all went through it!
- Suggest the Search function! I love seeing these posts. Many group members don’t even know they can do this, so it’s an excellent suggestion and it helps to keep all of our forums just a bit tidier and with a bit less volume of messages to go through each day.
It’s a great industry, the VA industry. It’s highly supportive of colleagues and there is a general sense of camaraderie among many of us.
We are all at different stages of our business and that it wonderful, because there is always someone who can help you with anything that you encounter.
Don’t be shy to ask a question. Don’t be shy to answer one!
It’s in our nature to be supportive and that is a wonderful thing, considering how many women try to tear each other down in the business arena.
Let’s keep helping each other build better VA businesses!
Tracey D’Aviero is a veteran VA and Founder of Your VA Mentor. Tracey trains and mentors professional women and men who are brand new to the VA industry or who have been struggling to make their business successful. Her mission is to educate professionals on how to build and grow successful and profitable virtual businesses in the VA industry by implementing systems and smart principles. Contact Tracey for speaking engagements, group training or private coaching at www.yourvamentor.com.
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