If you’re anything like me then, you weren’t always a virtual assistant. You were working not from home in a completely different industry (maybe something more customer service-related), and the opportunity to support ambitious entrepreneurs from the comforts of your own space seemed appealing.
PLUS you get to create your schedule? Yes.
I was a certified veterinary assistant for four years and I know what you’re thinking right now. It’s one of two things (or both): “You got to play with so many little puppies and kittens!” and/or “At least you didn’t have much contact with other people!”
While the first statement can definitely be a perk of the job, the second one isn’t entirely accurate for those in the veterinary industry. This is because, unfortunately, people’s pets can’t talk. They can’t pay service bills, answer phones, or send medical records. So pet owners become advocates, the veterinary staff listens, and this leads to a massive customer service aspect of the field.
As a veterinary assistant, part of my job was to make my clients feel comfortable enough to trust me with their pet, their baby. From the moment I introduced myself, to the second I took the carrier from their hands, I made sure they knew that I was in my element.
Now, working as a virtual assistant, part of my job is to make my clients feel comfortable enough to trust me with their business, their baby. From the moment I introduce myself, to the second they’ve delivered to me their most important credentials in LastPass, I make sure they know that I’m in my element. Because I know how important it is for them to feel like they made the right decision trusting me as their VA.
Related: What Are Virtual Assistant Jobs Like? An Interview with Jamie Williams, VA
If you agree with me that first impressions matter, then read on for my three tips for kicking off with a new client.
1. Grab Your Ducks, and Line Them Up!
Ideally, you have already introduced yourself and initiated contact with your new client. Maybe they have already scheduled an appointment with you for a kick-off call.
It’s time to create an outline! I’ve found that an outline of how I generally want the conversation to flow helps me gather all of my ideas and thoughts, i.e. get my ducks in a row. It’s easier to feel confident and in control when I know how the meeting will flow. I’m a sucker for a good To-Do List app or handy dandy notebook, but use whatever you’re comfortable with for this tip.
The very basic version of my outline only has three sections:
The expectation of the VA, Need to Know, and then Loose Ends. I don’t include a section for the first few minutes because they’re conversational and introductory. Feel free to name and organize your sections however you would like, you just need to structure it in a way that will address the points that need to be made, and allows you to get back on topic if you end up straying.
The following is an example of my outline:
Expectations of the VA
- Why do they need me?
- What are their goals?
- What should I prioritize and are there deadlines?
Need to Know
- When is best to contact them?
- Which way is best to contact them?
- How often will we meet?
- How many hours should I work weekly?
- Make sure they understand how time is tracked, and that I will send them weekly timesheets and updates on progress.
- Have they created a LastPass account and started sending me credentials?
- Ask any loose questions I have and answer any of theirs.
Why? Simply because you’ll feel good.
The issue I run into is that a plastered smile does nothing for me, and I recently discovered that people can tell the difference.
Especially when they can’t see you.
Thus, my solution and next tip for you is to set some time aside to naturally put a smile on your face. There are so many ways to get a smile going, but whatever makes you laugh in a normal setting is your best bet! I start anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before a scheduled meeting but I also understand that you may live a busier life, and could only have about ten minutes in between appointments.
And to that I say, there are short funny cat videos, running less than eight minutes in length.
The point here is that a smile makes you approachable, and trustworthy. Two personality traits that you want your new client to get a feel of!
3. Lean Into Your Expertise
There’s a reason you are their VA. You’re the expert. You possess the skills they need to take their business to the next level. Whether this is your tenth new client or your first, you have to trust in your ability to make your special brand of VA magic happen.
So wiggle those fingers, twitch your nose a couple of times and dive in with confidence!
Outline your first meeting to control the flow of conversation, be confident in what you bring to the virtual table, and don’t forget to smile! I hope my top three tips serve you well, friend.