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The following excerpt is from Shelby Larson's book Moonlighting on the Internet. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
Shelby Larson presents the most reliable and proven ways you can create an extra paycheck for the short term and establish a continual revenue stream for the long term with your own website. In this edited excerpt, Larson explains the 10 most important skills you must have in order to keep your virtual assistant clients loyal.
Holding on to the clients of your virtual assistant business requires loyalty, and that means you'll need to demonstrate other skills besides expertise and knowledge. It's time to review the traits outside your specific marketable skills that will inspire loyalty in your clients and keep them coming back again and again.
1. Reliability. Reliability is a must in a virtual assistant. No matter how qualified you are or how cheaply you work, you will lose clients if they can't rely on you. This means they need to "set it and forget it." When they give you a task, you must work on your own to get it done without reminders and without any hand-holding. You're supposed to make their life easier, and if they have to constantly stop what they're doing to check on you, you'll soon lose that client.
2. Accuracy. Accuracy is very important. Mistakes are human and will happen. But you must avoid unnecessary mistakes like typos and subpar work. If your client has to go back and check your work, you're not saving them much time.
3. Integrity. Integrity is everything when it comes to intellectual properties. Plagiarizing is unacceptable and will cost you clients (if not more). Additionally, you must be true to your time frame. If you promise work by Thursday, then it must be done by Thursday; if a delay is absolutely unavoidable, you need to pre-emptively communicate that. I try to get things done a day early just in case something comes up at the last minute so I have a little extra wiggle room.
4. Kind and friendly personality. Having rapport with your clients will take you further than you could imagine. Always stay positive, no matter how the client acts. When you're positive and uplifting, you show confidence in the midst of their crisis, which will gain you their respect.
5. Resourcefulness. A valuable virtual assistant is the go-to person for information. You don't have to know everything about the business, but you need to have a system in place that allows you to find out. This can be as simple as having a specific point of contact at the company that you can go to when you need information. However, once you ask a question, be sure to document it so you don't have to ask for the same information repeatedly. Being able to answer the majority, if not all, of a client's basic questions helps make you an irreplaceable part of their team.
6. An "ideas" person. This goes along with resourcefulness. You want to have ideas that make the company you're working for better. When you think about the client's business, you show you're more than a typical assistant. Plus, when you come up with a strategy to make the business better, many times the client will put you in charge of that new task, keeping you working and making you even more valuable.
7. Help grow the client's business. Along the same lines as the last two points, if you can make a client's business grow and that increases their income, you'll have a job forever. The extra income you provide the client will make you a priceless member of their team.
8. Follow through and follow up. Stay on top of every task, even when your client doesn't. Small tasks can often fall through the cracks, but it's your job not to let that happen. For example, I had a client who needed to approve all bookmarks before I posted them. If I didn't get approval after two or three days, I'd send her another email with the bookmarks attached saying, "In case you missed these, these bookmarks are awaiting approval." I did this on more than one occasion, and she even thanked me for keeping her on task.
9. Work well under pressure. Never let a client see you sweat. This is a joke, but it's true in more ways than you think. You want each client to think they're your only client, no matter your workload. This means not taking on too much, because a stressed-out virtual assistant often passes that stress on to a client, which is exactly what you're trying to relieve.
10. Ability to multitask. Probably one of the top five things a virtual assistant must do is take on multiple tasks for multiple clients and keep them all moving forward. It takes organization, efficiency, and good scheduling, but it's critical for virtual assistant success.