The Legal Connection Hosts Blog Hopping & Podcast Tour VA on Earth Day 2009.
Andrea, what a day it has been today. A double whammy – Earth Day and Administrative Professionals Day. We’ve a lot to talk about, so let’s get started.
1. Today we celebrate not just Administrative Professionals Day, but Earth Day… can you give me a few examples of how Virtual Assistants help keep the world green?
Hi Andrea, ironic you would ask, as “working green” is becoming a huge concern in the VA industry. Just because we work virtually, doesn’t mean there aren’t ways we can reduce pollution, become eco-friendly and contribute to the conservation of our planet. Five steps we can implement include:
a. Send electronic greeting cards. Let’s save some paper. Now, there are lots of free greeting card online places. Even if you are “late” an electronic message is always welcome. And, there are tons of cards/categories/messages to choose from for all occasions.
b. Use a laptop computer. I never realized it, but a desktop computer plugged into a wall uses 100 times more energy than a battery run laptop. So, save a little energy (and help reduce your electric bill) by keeping your battery charged and working from your portable computer.
c. Recycle your cell phone: Donate your phone to a women’s shelter. I read this tip contributed by Belma M. Johnson. He states “a dead phone that is not connected to services can still make 911 calls.” What a fabulous idea! As a matter of fact, recycle everything your company collects. Almost any kind of paper, including fax paper, envelops, and junk mail can be recycled.
d. Let your computer take a nap: During the day, setting your computer to go to sleep automatically during short breaks can cut energy use by 70 percent. Remember, screen savers don’t save energy.
e. Use both sides of the page: Make it a habit to print and write on both sides and use the back side of old documents for faxes, scrap paper, or drafts. Avoid color printing and print in draft mode whenever feasible.
2. The name of the conference is Online International Virtual Assistants Convention. Do participants have to be “virtual assistants” in order to benefit from attending this event?
Definitely not! Each year we have purposely included seminars that would be of interest to entrepreneurs, regardless of their niche or focus. Our intent is to offer sessions to enhance a business owner’s knowledge, skills and abilities. This year, for instance, we’ve included social media and marketing topics, WordPress, SEO, developing a business plan and marketing strategy seminars, and many other topics to help spur business growth and development. We encourage and invite anyone interested in improving their business and learning new skills to participate.
3. You know my practice is specializes in “legal” – how can VAs help attorneys and support staff in these trying economic times?
Virtual Assistants can be the “secret weapon” attorneys use to keep the business afloat, because they can assume some of the day-to-day responsibilities that consume numerous man hours and negatively impact billable hours and staff production. Some of the tasks VAs can handle include:
- Prepare court documents and complaints, answers, motions, etc.
- Transcribe letters, depositions, pleadings, etc.
- Conduct legal research
- Create and maintain client files
- Calendar management
- Coordinate travel arrangements, pickups and deliveries
Law offices can burn copies of templates and system models so the VA can implement the same processes and systems in her remote office.
In addition, the attorney or assistant may choose to setup access to internal office computers through web-based programs such as LawyerDoneDeal or Web-Ex in which your VA does the work on the web site or desktop, and you pick it up and print it directly in your office. Several remote access tools include LogMe In, PCAnywhere, RemotePC. In addition, VAs and the office can communicate by video conference from anywhere, usually for free or at a low cost. All of these capabilities assist with reducing overhead.
By utilizing the services of a VA, attorneys and their staff can focus on “client services”, etc. and leave the mundane, back-office assignments to us.
4. Can anyone BE a virtual assistant? If I wanted to become a VA, what would be my first step?
No, no, no! Everyone is not qualified to be a virtual assistant, nor has the aptitude or desire to become one. Okay, yes, there are those who see the industry as a “make quick money by doing work on the side” venture, but actually, being a virtual assistant first and foremost means you are a BUSINESS OWNER, AN ENTREPRENEUR! So, if the person desires to run their own business, and have an interest in assisting other business owners in growing and sustaining their business, then yes, they can become a VA.
The first step, frankly, is to determine if you have entrepreneurial spirit, understand what that is, and are willing to take steps necessary to develop and run a successful business. Once you have decided to take the plunge, I strongly recommend that the candidate create a written business plan and marketing strategies – strategies that fit their personality and they are comfortable with implementing. Maybe attend a few counseling sessions offered by Score or SBA. Finally, there are several VA-focused training and certification programs the individual may want to investigate. If interested, visit the Alliance for Virtual Businesses website, which lists several VA-industry training programs. Finally, speak to some other successful VAs wiling to share insight into the industry, so you can get an “insiders” view of virtual assisting.
Wow Andrea, great questions. Okay, time to skip to the next stop. Yesterday, I relaxed at OIVAC and left a clue or two. Your clue today is: mphlcsoiadee. Tomorrow, we hop on over to Wealth Together, hosted by Melodieann Whiteley. See you soon.
Sharon Williams is the president of The 24 Hour Secretary and founder of OIVAC. Stop by her blog and signup for the soon to be launched “Let Your VA Handle It” case studies series, where she identifies tasks and solutions VAs offer that save time and money and give clients time to handle responsibilities that fuel their passion.