Originally Published: 2/23/2009
Communication is an important piece when working with a virtual assistant — or when working with any subcontractor. While in some cases we do perform “miracles,” we are not mind readers.
To have a successful working relationship with a VA, it is important to communicate. If there are specific elements of a project you want included, communicate those. If there are deadlines that need to be met, communicate those also. All relevant facts should be communicated to the virtual assistant. Do NOT assume that your virtual assistant is thinking along the same lines as you and will know all those elements of the project. What you might consider an important piece and a can’t-live-without piece of the project might be something the virtual assistant sees as something that doesn’t need to be included.
While virtual assistants can “run with a project,” things that you — as the client — feel are important need to be communicated.
Also, be aware of the virtual assistant’s working hours. If the hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, for instance, and you send an email after hours, you should not expect a reply until the next business day. Sending an email Friday evening and asking for something to be done over the weekend is bad practice.
At times there truly may be an emergency that requires after hours or weekend work. If this is the case, be sure to follow up the email with a phone call.
And be clear on deadlines. In normal situations we may allow for some padding when stating “I’d like this done by the 15th of the month.” But when you’re already in a “gotta have it now” situation, be very clear on what that deadline is. I recently had a situation arise where my client asked me to fax something now, as he was walking out the door. I did not get the email until 30 minutes later and figured he was, indeed, already gone. Therefore, I did not drop everything to work on the project. He called an hour after he was “walking out the door” to see if I had it ready to fax (he was just then walking out the door). No, I didn’t. However, if I had known that he was not “walking out the door” an hour earlier, but that I had some time, I would have gotten it done in time.
So communicate with your virtual assistant, or any subcontractor, to be clear on your desires and deadlines!