What Makes a Competent and Reliable VA & How to Find the Best Assistants
Finding the right virtual assistant can be a game-changer for you and your business. A competent and reliable VA acts as a trusted aide who handles all your general administrative tasks, your finances, calls, emails, social media, as well as customer support, taking a huge weight off your shoulders.
With the bandwidth that you free up for yourself by hiring a VA, you can play an active role in spearheading growth strategies instead of being bogged down by mundane jobs, such as preparing routine reports and checking your emails.
If you've decided to take the leap and hire a VA, that's great news. There are plenty of places you can hire one. Freelance marketplaces such as Upwork or Fiverr are good platforms, or you can opt for a trusted virtual assistant company if you don't want to sift through hundreds of applications and interview dozens of candidates yourself.
Regardless of the hiring source, all VAs should have a set of essential skills that enable them to add value to your business and improve your life. In this article, we'll cover the key skills every VA should possess.
Top-Notch Communication Skills & Bilingual Proficiency
A virtual assistant will regularly be in touch with your vendors, clients, travel agent, as well as business partners. You will also frequently need your VA to type emails and memos or make calls on your behalf. To ensure everything runs smoothly, you need a VA who can understand your requirements and can interact well via various formats, both written and oral.
This means not just having proficiency in English vocabulary and grammar, but also being a good listener (to be able to understand requirements well) & having some basic command over negotiation (to get you the best deals from vendors) and conflict resolution techniques (to deal with irate customers).
Additionally, if you're doing business in a country where English isn't the primary language, you should hire a bilingual VA who can act as a translator whenever needed.
Basic Bookkeeping & Accounting
A virtual assistant doesn’t need to be a full-fledged accountant, but as someone who will be paying your bills for you and collecting payments from your clients, it's beneficial if they know their way around simple invoicing/billing and can crunch some numbers whenever needed. Basic bookkeeping skills will also help a VA keep track of your expenses and prepare basic reports using simple spreadsheets.
Another key skill that is essential for any virtual assistant is internet research. Whether it's finding the lowest fare on a flight or hotel booking, locating the most affordable vendor for your business, or analyzing your competitor's strategies, a savvy VA who can navigate the world of the internet to find you the best resources can add a lot of value and save you a bunch of money.
Familiarity with Project Management & Collaboration Softwares
You're never going to be face-to-face with your VA, so you'll probably be using a variety of software such as Trello, Asana, or Slack for collaborating on projects and keeping in touch. An ideal virtual assistant will have proficiency in some of these tools or at least, the ability to quickly learn new tools and software. When you interview a virtual assistant, ask them what project management or collaboration software they have used in the past and how long their usual learning curve with new software is.
Planning & Scheduling Skills
A VA who can effectively organize your calendar — so that you know, in advance, your whole week's plan and objectives — is truly worth their weight in gold. As a business leader, chances are your schedule is already packed. You’ll need a virtual assistant who knows how to plan smartly and understands your priorities to ensure the best use of your time and help you focus on taking your business to the next level.
Email Inbox Management
Email is the primary medium of business communication, therefore, a good VA should be well-versed in email management. An intelligent virtual assistant should be able to spruce up your inbox and figure out which emails need your personal consideration, which ones they can respond to on your behalf, and which emails should head directly to the trash folder.
Social Media Skills
If you're going to ask your VA to respond to messages or comments on your business profile on social media, ensure that the VA you're hiring has experience with popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn and can navigate their way around managing a business page on these platforms.
What about Qualities?
So far, we've listed the skills that a capable VA should possess. But character is just as important as skill set, isn't it?
In most scenarios, a VA will have access to confidential information such as financial statements and your credit card number, will be directly interacting with your clients, and will be handling all your emails and scheduling details. As such, here are some qualities that are absolutely indispensable for a VA:
Honesty & Trustworthiness
Kind & Courteous
Someone who loves continuous learning
It all boils down to this: if you make the right choice and hire a VA who is self-driven, diligent, and motivated, it will serve as a huge boon for your business. You'll be able to free up time to launch new projects, focus on the company's bottom line, and double your productivity!
But, if you make the wrong selection, things can quickly go pear-shaped. At best, you might miss a few meetings or deadlines due to scheduling errors, at worst, you might lose a few loyal clients or a whole lot of money.
So make sure that you're hiring a VA from a reputed source that rigorously vets and trains their VAs or take the time to thoroughly analyze their skills and qualities before you hire them.
Why not try out our industry-leading virtual assistant service today? Pricing starts at just ¥15,000/mo — or roughly the price of one month’s gym membership. There’s no contract or sign-up fee, so you’re free to cancel at any time if you choose.
Here at TokyoMate, we say work smarter, not harder.