We all know that virtual assistants can work globally, but making it happen in your own business can be a challenge if you are used to working exclusively with local clients. I know. I worked for years with a steady client base of attorneys, doctors, businesses, etc. , no more than 30 minutes from my home-based business. I was hesitant to think that it would work without that personal connection and physical pick-up and delivery of work. But once I went global, I never looked back.
When thinking of going global and getting those clients, it's important to first understand what all you can provide and how you can provide it. I recommend getting active on the boards and doing your research to find out what tools virtual assistants are using to better their business. You don't have to always go out and get the latest and greatest, but we are in a cutting edge industry that constantly is expanding with technology. Therefore, it's imperative to keep up and learn all you can and have the best that's out there. The VA Boards and forums provide this information. Plus, make sure that you are connected to newsletters and ezines from professionals that you respect.
Think outside of the box. You don't have to do it the same as everyone else. When approaching clients to first get them as clients and also in your working with them after they've signed the retainer, think of new and innovative ways that you can excel at things and do it better. What edge do you have? What skills make you the best at what you do? For your international clients providing essential e-business tools is key. Those tools are obviously specialized to each particular VA whether its web design, database integration, word processing, script installations, online advertising & promotions including press releases and article writing/distribution, to name a few.
What is it like working internationally? Absolutely wonderful. Here's what one of my clients had to say. Paula Polman, owner of Basic Scents & Supplies states, “Working together with a VA like Diana shows there is no boundary or border issues when it comes to providing important ebusiness services. Having such services as marketing and promotional exposure, epublishing and publishing, and priority networking is extremely beneficial to my online success. By priority networking I mean personal introductions to other business owners with relevant needs/services. Most of this could never have been possible without the internet and the global access it has created. We've effectively handled meetings with 4 and 5 people, did radio shows together, utilized online conferencing via IM chats to plan our strategies and promotions, and used teleconferences for putting it all together. We created joint ventures such as the DaysofChristmas project and UnderTheAwning last year, and this year so far worked on SnapCodeSystems.com. We seem to be able to bring out the brilliance in one another and each other's creativity. If you don't have a VA now, get one!"
Also, for Red Deer College in Canada Kelly Poelker and I are guest speakers for their VA Programs and discuss the topics of pricing, disaster recovery, and newsletters. We prepare Powerpoint presentations for the classes so students can follow along through a web conferencing program. With a microphone headset, I can speak and teach the class while the students see the outline I have prepared. It's just like being in a classroom. The tip is to always check your equipment prior to class and make sure everything is up and running.
Here are some additional tips I recommend for working internationally. You need a high-speed Internet connection. I also have unlimited long distance. I discovered that for only 50 cents more a month I can add Canada onto my plan. Make sure you check your phone plan to ensure you have what you think you have and whenever you change plans, specifically ask for that feature. It's not included in many regular plans and when you change if you don't ask for it, you might not get it.
In closing, it's up to us as Virtual Assistants to get the word out and there's no better time than now. I was on a publisher's listserve the other day and one of the publishers was discussing how small publishers or self-publishers can't afford a publicist to help with the sales of their books. I mentioned that many virtual assistants are doing just that, offering book marketing and publicity. The response was fantastic after, of course, the initial, “What's a virtual assistant. " The time is now to be active and talk more, blog more, and just do more for this Industry that we are all so proud of.
Diana Ennen is the author of numerous books including Virtual Assistant: the Series, Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA, Words From Home, Start, Run and Profit from a Home-Based Word Processing Business & the Home Office Recovery Plan. She specializes in publicity and book marketing and is president of Virtual Word Publishing http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com and http://www.Publicity-VA.com . Articles are free to be reprinted as long as the author's bio remains intact.