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Employing a virtual assistant can help lighten your workload and shave off a few precious hours from your workweek. But having a virtual assistant at your disposal and utilizing his skills efficiently are two different things. Knowing which tasks to assign to improve efficiency and productivity can be a challenge, especially if you are in the early stages of starting up your business.
A virtual assistant’s job is similar to those of a secretary or executive assistant’s, doing mostly administrative tasks. The key difference is that most virtual assistants do their jobs from home and that a majority of them are freelance or contract workers. Online job sourcing websites have a plethora of listings for virtual assistants with varying administrative skills.
With the growing number of virtual assistants, their individual skills and expertise have become the most important points in choosing the right virtual employee who can help your business grow. Business owners, managers, and entrepreneurs can utilize skilled virtual assistants for a wide variety of tasks. The duties of a virtual assistant vary on his set of skills, expertise, and qualifications. However, there are several primary responsibilities that an experienced virtual assistant should have a firm grasp on.
The Primary Duties and Responsibilities of a Virtual Assistant
The virtual assistant is responsible for:
- maintaining and filing documents
- organizing meeting agenda and providing support documents when needed
- creating and maintaining websites, and link building
- taking care of data entry work for the client
- making proper travel arrangements for the client
- organizing the client’s calendar and scheduling appointments
- preparing newsletters and updating online profile information
- building and maintaining social platform profiles
- writing articles and blogs for SEO
- creating custom service, product, and website graphics to suit the client’s needs
- preparing print and verbal communications for the client
These tasks are the fundamental duties of a seasoned virtual assistant. But with the diversity of the skills and expertise needed to accomplish some of these tasks, it would be inefficient to assign them all to one individual. The key to an efficient and productive use of a virtual assistant is delegating only the most essential tasks that are within the person’s capacity. This is why it is important to properly assess the employee’s aptitude when it comes to doing the job he’s hired for, so you will have an idea of what to expect of him and his work. It is essential for you to be able to build trust and a professional relationship with your virtual assistant, as he becomes an integral part of your organization.
The 10 Basic Tasks You Can Assign To Your Virtual Assistant
- Email Management – Let’s face it, you have a lot more important things to do than waste your time sorting through your emails. A good virtual assistant will sift through all your emails, set aside the most important ones for you to read, and deal with the rest of the emails by responding on your behalf. This task can be delegated to a virtual assistant quite easily since it’s the type of job that can be done remotely. You just have to provide clear instructions and the right guidance on how to filter key emails and how he should respond to some of them appropriately.
- Online Data Research – Internet research is quite easy to outsource to a virtual assistant. You can have your assistant gather as much information about a particular subject you’re interested in and have all the relevant data sorted before handing them over to you. Some of the common research requests include gathering information on a variety of corporate websites, collecting data on new products that have come out the market, vetting prospective clients, employees, and/or business contacts, as well as researching potential blog topics that are currently trending. This particular task is easy enough to do remotely. Assigning it to a virtual assistant can save you a lot of time, which you can spend on other more important aspects of your business.
- Bookkeeping and Clerical Tasks – Time-consuming and tedious tasks like keeping company bills in check, dealing with unpaid bills or outstanding invoices are some of the most common jobs often assigned to a virtual assistant. Many micro establishments these days have opted to share their records and processes to virtual assistants who have become more efficient in clerical work. Again, this will depend on the expertise of your assistant, as well as the rapport you have created with the individual. You’ll be handing over some control, so trust is an important issue here.
- Taking Care of Social Media Tasks and Responsibilities – Businesses today rely heavily on social media to lure potential clients. If you want a surefire way for your brand to reach your target audience, the best way to do it is through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. But creating and maintaining a social media profile is a time-consuming endeavor that requires your constant attention. The best way to take care of all these is to assign the task to a virtual assistant, who can then actively post status updates, comments, replies, videos; and even send out tweets on your behalf.
- Industry Research – Keeping up with the recent happenings in the industry your business is operating in can take up a huge chunk of your time. Most small businesses have turned to virtual assistance services to help them keep up with the latest news and updates in the industry. Social media also plays a huge role in this area of the business. A good virtual assistant can really make a big difference in this aspect.
- Data Entry – One of the most grueling tasks in running a business is maintaining the company’s database, whether it’s updating existing contact information or entering a slew of new client data. This particular task can be accomplished by an experienced virtual assistant without trouble. Just don’t be vague about what needs to be done. And to minimize errors, you also have to be sure that the assistant you hired has done this kind of work before. This is where experience can really pay off.
- Data Summary and Presentations – Collecting raw data and summarizing it for the benefit of shareholders, potential clients, and investors can be a challenging and time-consuming job. This is an administrative task that few people can really do well. Luckily, a lot of virtual assistants are already quite adept at this kind of work. As an entrepreneur, you can have access to the expertise and skills of seasoned virtual assistants; you just have to find one that has the right qualifications.
- Scheduling and Calendar Management – There are a lot of scheduling tools available online, most of which are within the purview of many experienced virtual assistants. This is why managing calendars and scheduling is a fundamental element in virtual assistance services. Such tasks include dealing with business meeting schedules, invitations, client appointments, and event planning.
- Travel Research and Arrangements – virtual assistants are an excellent resource for searching for hotels and making reservations, booking airfares and logistics, as well as setting up travel itineraries, whether for business or pleasure. Because assistants are adept at the various research tools at their disposal, they can easily gather pertinent information available online. They are better at dealing with the various time zones when reserving airline slots and hotel rooms, especially when it comes to international travel.
- Finding Potential Business Opportunities – Believe it or not, a good virtual assistant has the ability to chase down possible leads to benefit your business. This is a skill that comes only with experience. For a small business, tracking down leads can be a challenge, but not for a seasoned assistant. Whatever industry you are operating in, it is important that your assistant is aware of what your business is all about in order to find the right kind of business opportunities for your company.
Hiring the Right Virtual Assistant
Online job sourcing websites have tens of thousands of postings for virtual assistant jobs each year. That is how murky the VA pool is. Finding the right virtual assistant for your organization takes time and patience. You need to be certain that the person you hire has the capability and the skills to meet your needs.
The relationship between a virtual assistant and his client is a unique partnership based on trust. You need to be able to depend on that individual to diligently do the job you ask of him. Obviously, it’s tough to put your trust on someone halfway around the world. But through proper communication, research, and interviews, you will find an assistant who’s perfectly suited for your organization; one who can help stir your business on the road to success.