Six Keys to Building a Thriving Virtual Assistant Practice in 2009

Happy New Year! I definitely took a long hiatus from my blog, but have re-charged my creative batteries and am officially ready to go!

I have had the privilege of working with a whole variety of Virtual Assistants over a number of years and have been able to assess the particular traits or characteristics that make some of them very successful. As we head into a New Year full of much promise here are six keys to building a thriving Virtual Assistant Practice in 2009:

KEY 1 - Be Active in Social Networking - I continue to hear great testimonies of some of our VAClassroom students finding new ideal clients through such popular Social Networks as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. They are building their jasminlive network with a target audience and are finding opportunities emerge through these connections! So, one of the keys to sustaining a Thriving Virtual Assistance practice in 2009 is to become a "Master Networker" in the key social networks, forums, groups and online communities!

KEY 2 - Build a Compelling Web Presence - I have also had the opportunity to review many different VA websites and I noticed that some of them still do not market themselves super well. The page sometimes is super text heavy, with no multimedia or compelling images. As an Internet Business Owner (who currently works with 4 VAs), I love coming to site that has a YouTube Video, compelling graphics, an optin box to a free PDF guide, Twitter & Facebook Badges and possibly a blog. This shows me that this business is cutting edge and savvy! So, here s a test .

Go to your website right now and ask yourself: "If I was a prospective client, would I be drawn to my website?" Now is the best time of year to make changes!

KEY 3 - Participate in Blogging and Social Media Content Sharing - Many of you who are blogging right now know the value of being of thought leader in the VA industry and building credibility with your prospective client base - not to mention the great SEO value of regularly updating your blog! The key with your blog is to create content that would be relevant to your target client audience. For example; I saw a PDF guide that a VA was offering called "101 Reasons to Use a Virtual Assistant in 2009? - this was great and relevant content for small busineses, which certainly could pave the way to new client opportunities!

It is imperative to build your traffic and web presence through sharing content in such sites as HubPages, Squidoo and EzineArticles. This again positions you as a thought leader and drives traffic and Search Engine results back to your website!

KEY 4 - Establish a Clear Business Niche - As you know, the Virtual Assistant role is constantly in flux and means many different things to different people. Many VAs are bloggers, web-designers, social media marketers, bookkeepers, event planners, PR specialists and so much more! The most successful VAs have been able to establish the right niche at the right time to create the best opportunities for their Live Sex Chat business. For example; businesses are screaming for VAs with Social Media Marketing expertise, which is why we recently launched our Social Media Marketing Specialist Training Program.

Also, it is important to identify the niche audience you are targeting. Is your ideal client audience, Real-Estate Agents, Business Coaches, Women Entrepreneurs, Internet Marketer, Ecommerce Sites etc.?

KEY 5 - Proactive Marketing Strategies - I always love the saying "The squeaky wheel gets the grease"! Translation: A Pro-active Virtual Assistant will create the best opportunities for their business! As you know, the clients may find you on Social Networks or via your website, which is great, but for the most part, you will need to go out there and connect with your ideal client audience in creative ways. For example; One of our VAClassroom Students mentioned that she was putting on workshops for small business associations in her local area on "The Power of Social Media Marketing". Well, this served as an excellent avenue for her to position herself as an authority and build some new client opportunities.

KEY 6 - Highly Committed to Continual Learning - Of all the industries I have be apart of in my career, none has moved faster than the Internet Business. New technology and web trends are evolving at a rapid pace and 6 months is like 5-10 years in another industry! It is paramount that you are actively pursuing learning and training opportunities in your niche to ensure that you remain on the cutting edge and at the top of your game in 2009.

So, there you have it . Six keys to building a thriving Virtual Assistant business in the New Year!

I am sure there are other "Keys" and would love to hear yours!

Charitable Organizations Using Social Media to Spread Christmas Cheer

Can you believe that December has already arrived - this Fall season has just blown by hasn"t it?

I came across an interesting article that I thought might interest you. In these tough economic times, great charitable organizations like The Salvation Army are feeling the crunch and overall giving is down this year. The Salvation Army and other non-profits have gotten creative this Christmas season and are making use of the popular Social networks, Twitter and Facebook to connect with the younger generation and ultimately increase their donations!

This article confirms an interesting trend taking shape with a growing number of non-profits and charitable organizations starting to use Social Media to spread awareness and bolster their donations. The emergence of non-profits using Social Media presents an ideal, niche opportunity for those considering working as Social Media Specialists and Consultants! Many of these livejasmin organizations are just feeling their way through Social Networking and need a consultant to help them to chart the right course!

As many of you know, we are currently running the Social Marketing Specialist Training Program to about 40 students. We just actually finished the training session involving Facebook and Twitter and talked about non-profits being an ideal client prospect!

Check out this interesting article on The Salvation Army and the virtual "Red Kettle".

Explaining Social Media To Your Family and Friends

For many of you that work on the Internet virtually from home, you probably get the question from family members: "What exactly do you do?" I remember when I first started working in the Internet industry just about 6 years ago, I received a lot of interesting comments and looks to say the least:)

I was recently at a family function and someone asked me about the types of training courses we teach at VAClassroom. I started sharing about our Social Marketing Training Program and quickly realized that what I was speaking "Greek" to this person. Twitter? Huh?

Anyways, since you are involved in Social Media to some extent or have an interest in adding it as a service in your business, I thought I should send you this video that will save you some grief with family and friends when they ask "What exactly do you do?"

This video is called "Social Media in Plain English" and it is one of the best and most practical explanations I have seen on this topic!

Our Social Marketing Training Course started last week and we just completed our 2nd session on Social Media Strategy and Social Networking Set-up and Management. I will keep you posted on the next enrolment in January!

Social Media Marketing Training Program Sold Out

Well, this has been a crazy busy week as we just starting the first run of our live Social Marketing Specialist Training Program. We have an enthusiastic group of about 40+ who are very pumped about learning how to position themselves as a Social Marketing Specialist in 2009.

It is amazing to see the demand for this kind of niche! One of our students mentioned that she connected with one of her clients on what she had learned in the first session of the Social Marketing Training Program and the client wants her to get started right away with building a Social Media Strategy - very cool.

Another Virtual Assistant mentioned that one of her clients was waiting to hire her once she completed the course. Also, last week, I got a call from a marketing firm, who asked if three of their Virtual Assistants could attend the program as they really wanted to bolster their Social Marketing efforts in 2009.

All of this is pointing to serious opportunity for those seeking to offer a Social Media service in 2009! Although this course is sold out right now, we will be offering another opportunity in January. Free Free to jump on our alert list at our Social Marketing Training page here.

Until next time!

Lessons from Barack Obama s Social Media Strategy

Well, the long US election campaign culminated last night with Barack Obama winning the Presidency of the United States. This is now the time where streams of political analysts will weigh in on what the parties did right, the potential missteps the Republicans may have taken and so on and so forth. But politics aside, as a Social Media enthusiast myself, I have to stand back and applaud the Social Media Strategy that was brilliantly executed by the Obama campaign!

The social network gurus on his team implemented some innovative strategies, even going as far as creating their own Obama Social Network where people all over the US could connect, share Ideas and dialogue about the issues.

I read a great post today from an Aussie that summed up the social media brilliance displayed by Team Obama over the last few months. Take a read of this post titled: Lessons We Can Learn From Barack Obama s Online Marketing Strategy. As you read this, reflect on your own Social Media efforts and take stock of how effective your current activities are - is there something to be learned from this Social Media President? I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback!

The timing of this post is great, especially as we get set to launch our new Social Marketing Specialist Training Program here at VAClassroom.com. Obama s ability to successfully leverage Social Media will no doubt alert to action many of those businesses who may be dabbling with Social Media, but not employing any real concrete strategy.

The opportunities for Social Marketing Specialists will be plentiful in 2009!

Becoming an Online Business Manager Book Release

I am happy to be involved with Tina Forsyth s Blog Tour for her timely book release, "Becoming an Online Business Manager". I have had an opportunity to get to know Tina over the last while and have been super impressed with her experience and knowledge in the Virtual Business field!

Last week, we sat down for a 20 minute interview to discuss her new book launch, her motivation behind this project and the key distinctions between a Virtual Assistant and an Online Business Manager. I have had an opportunity to review the book and it is a very well thought out, relevant and timely read for any Virtual Assistant or Online Professional seeking to shift their skills and services into the Online Business Management space. After talking with Tina, I quickly realized that I need an "Online Business Manager" for my own business:). While I work with 3-4 different Virtual Assistants, I do not currently have someone that is functioning as the point person for my business activities.

Take a listen to the MP3 recording of this 20 minute interview.

Interview with Tina Forsyth, author of "Becoming an Online Business Manager"

I woud highly recommend adding this one to your upcoming holiday break reading list. You can grab your copy here:

Becoming an Online Business Manager

Google Tools - A Productivity Gem

I know many of you probably have a Gmail account and may use Google Alerts and track your RSS feeds with Google Reader. But are you leveraging the wide array of Google tools to maximize your productivity?

I am currently having a “love affair” with Google tools as I find that the more I incorporate the web apps into my daily work activities, the more organized and productive I am. Here is why I am loving Google these days

I am tracking my work emails with a Gmail account and have actually added my other work emails via the POP tool into Google Mail to consolidate all my mail activity into one location.

I am then using Google Calendar to track my schedule, meetings, and urgent time-sensitive tasks. Google Calendar has a cool feature that delivers email alerts at 5am in the morning with your scheduled appointments and activities. From a multi-tasking standpoint, I like that I can be writing an email and then quickly jump into Google Calendar to update my schedule.

I then track all my spreadsheets and work documents with Google Docs, which again is nicely integrated into the Gmail Interface. I have all the VAs and contractors I work with use Google docs which enables us to quickly share and collaborate on documents.

Not to mention, you can track all RSS feeds with Google Reader, which makes it easy to review existing feeds and add new ones.

Now, I know there are many other great productivity tools and web apps on the market, but my personal opinion is that it is hard to match up against the integrated, user-friendly and easy to access elements of Google Tools.

In short, Google Tools ROCKS!