Over on social media, I’ve been talking about trust, and how do you build trust with someone you’ve never met, like a Virtual Assistant.

Perhaps you know what tasks you want to delegate, but you’re more worried about how you build that trust with them.

“For me, it’s not about finding tasks I could give to a VA. It’s finding the right VA that I can trust and who understands what I do my vision, my brand, my roadmap for my business, existing and future clients”.

Now, there are a few things going on here because the funny thing about trust is that it can only build over time with consistency. But you need to trust the VA on some level to start delegating and assigning tasks in the first place. It all starts with what it is that you’re looking for, and for that, you need to consider skill set, availability, and so on.

Now thinking about a VA, if you’re looking to build a long-standing relationship with them, then you want somebody who is going to look after you on an ongoing basis. And sometimes VAs call them retainers or block bookings which is when you’re securing the VA’s time for maybe 10 hours a month, 20 hours a month, etc., so that they’ve got a dedicated chunk of time allocated to you each working day.

Ongoing bookings like that are freakin’ great for building that relationship and creating rapport because you know that you have regular support with somebody who is invested in the success of your business because they have that ongoing relationship.

Now if you compare that to a pay-as-you-go VA, there’s little commitment on the business owners side. Typically, a pay-as-you-go VA will fit the work in around their availability. Whereas on the block booking side, you’re working with that person regularly, so you’ll have guaranteed availability and greater access to them.

There are also questions that you can ask right there consultation stage as well, all to drill down further. These might include:

“What experience do you have?” and “How do I assign tasks to you”. If you’ve not worked with somebody on a remote basis before, there can be a learning curve. For instance, your default might be to pick up the phone, but a VA is working on a part-time basis, so they can’t always offer that level of responsiveness. You may need to come to some agreement in terms of a task management system to make that flow of communication easier between the two of you.

Another question could be “what if I certainly needed to increase or decrease the support that I need?” Because you hopefully want to work with somebody who can flex with the peaks and troughs of your own business. So for instance, going back to my example of 10 hours a month, let’s say you’ve identified that you’ve got 10 hours of work every month that you want to assign to your VA. If your workload ever increases and their maximum capacity is only over 10 hours a month, then that relationship isn’t going to stand the test of time. It’s always better to have that conversation up front, just about what their capacity is, and how they can help with those peaks and troughs would be rain business, will help set you up for success as well.

Another great question is, “what will you do to show that I can trust you with my brand?” And “how will you protect my data?” So the types of things that you’re looking for here are making sure that you assign them with an email address and that they’re happy to use that with your domain, that they are happy to use any online file storage you recommend or agree to protect files in line with your requirements. Or maybe you’re keen for them to have an encrypted hard drive. There are different things that they can do to protect both their data and your data as well.

You can ask “what kind of insurance policy do you have?” and “What do you have insurance at all?” So, again, that’s a good indicator that they are taking their brand, and their professionalism super seriously.

And then for UK based VAs, you want to be asking, “are you registered with the ICO?” This is about any data that you have. And I would say all the VAs are processing some data that’s not in the public domain. So they should have an ICO registration. They should issue you with a contract and data processing agreement. And so definitely be wary of a VA who’s willing to start work and like having access to data without those fundamentals in place.

Thinking about that trust again – we’ve spoken about identifying what it is that you’re looking for in the first place, and then some questioning techniques to qualify them.

You could even then set a test task to check for responsiveness, accuracy, communication, etc.

If you decide to work together, and those legal documents are in place (that’s the contract and the data processing agreement), it’s then a case of having an honest conversation about where you go from there. You might decide to do weekly check-ins, and I think that’s a brilliant way, particularly for the first four weeks or so, to start building rapport. A quick 30 minutes Zoom call every week to review tasks, talk about what’s on your plate for the week ahead, what’s coming up with your big picture vision, that’ll all go a long way to both building rapport and building the relationship. Plus the bonus is that you have face-to-face time which instantly helps build trust too.

When assigning tasks, start with something small and low-risk. Certainly don’t grant unrestricted access to your entire Google Drive from day one.

Instead, take a step back before assigning anything and ask yourself:

– Is this task within the VA’s remit and level of skill?

– Have I detailed what the task is, why I need it, and what I expect the finished result to look like?

– Do I want them to spend, say, 30 minutes on this and then check in with me for feedback? Keep going until it’s done. Or do I want them to spend two hours and then stop?

– Did I give the VA an opportunity to ask questions to clarify their understanding?

– Did I make it clear how they should communicate with me if they need a quick steer after the task has been assigned?

– Was I clear about how I need the task returning and what the deadline is?

Those are the types of questions that you need to be asking before you assign a task to make sure that you’re setting yourself, you’re setting you both of you up for success when you’re giving both of you the best possible chance to have that long-standing relationship.

It’s true that trust will develop over time, but there are things you can do to ensure a successful and long-lasting relationship with your VA.

 

 

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