Anyone with an internet connection and a dream can call themselves a VA. Do not be fooled into using some penny on the dollar foreign corporation or someone who is just dabbling in the profession. You’ll end up losing – time and money!
What can you do to make sure your VA is a professional – not only willing but able to do your work:
1. Google their name. No website, no Google profile or no links referencing them on the first page means they aren’t very good at the virtual part. That’s not necessarily a deal breaker, but you’ll want to make sure they are not so tech deficient, you spend more time explaining to them how to get things done vs. what you need done.
2. Ask for references and call them. If a VA can’t give you the name and telephone number of a client who is happy with their service, chances are there aren’t any. Even if they don’t have any virtual clients (yet), they should be able to give you the name of a previous employer willing to give a reference or attest to their abilities.
3. Sign a contract. This contract should outline that the VA is working as an independent contractor and not an employee, the turn around times/parameters by which projects or tasks will be completed, and the cost for same. Do not work with any VA without a signed contract.
Of course, there are a lot of other considerations when hiring an assistant – confidentiality, how and what exactly they will be doing for you to name a few. Use the three tips above to help you narrow in on that perfect individual. Once s/he is found, you can take it to the next level and work out the details of getting things done.
Hat tip to @gtdguy and this story: http://www.gtdtimes.com/2010/01/06/using-a-virtual-assistant/ for prompting this post.