When discussing the skills a virtual assistant needs to be successful people will recommend things like social media management, marketing, wordpress, etc. These recommendations are all considered Hard Skills and are essentially the skills that are based on your expertise. Your hard skills will directly link to the services that you offer and are definitely an important part of your business. However, there’s another category of skills that are often overlooked when you’re looking to be a virtual assistant called Soft Skills or your people skills. Soft skills are less about what you know technically and more about who you are personality wise; they shape the way you work on your own and with others. Soft skills are equally as important as hard skills in any service based industry; they essentially determine the success of your business. Hard Skills win clients, but Soft Skills keep them.
Here are 5 ideal soft skills a virtual assistant needs to be truly successful:
The VA business is one based on relationships. You are meant to be your client’s “go-to” person. No client wants to be doing business with someone who is untrustworthy or unreliable; especially if that person is going to be privy to some of the most private workings of their company.
Be truthful about your capabilities. Don’t be afraid to let a client know that you don’t have experience with something but are willing to learn. A client is much more likely to give you a chance (if the price is right) knowing that you’re figuring it out as you go along. The likelihood that they will continue to work with someone who pretended they could do something and then failed at it horribly is 100 times less.
Be accountable for your actions. If you make a mistake or you misunderstood something, own up to it. If you think you’re going to miss a deadline say so. If you don’t think you can accomplish a task exactly as the client wants it admit that. Even if the client decides they no longer want to work with you that’s better than having the reputation of being deceitful or a fraud.
This is one of the really critical soft skills for a virtual assistant because you don’t have the benefit of face to face interaction; most of the time you’re using only written modes of communication. You don’t get to use verbal cues, facial expressions or body language to interpret instructions. Because of this you need to be very direct and clear cut in your communications with clients; leave nothing to chance.
Remember, clear communication involves both listening and speaking. Take in the information provided and ask plenty of questions for clarification. Be sure to always let clients know the channels of communication are open for further discussion.
It doesn’t matter how efficient you are, at some point issues will arise. It may be the result of human error, technology or just good ol’ Murphy’s law doing it’s thing; whatever the cause though you cannot be a person that panics. Panic solves absolutely nothing. As a virtual assistant you need to be someone who either has a plan B, C and D, or knows how to think on the spot. At times it will call for creativity and critical analysis as you may have to think outside of the box to find alternative solutions to a problem, but where there’s a will there’s a way. A client will always appreciate you more if they feel they can trust you to handle anything that pops up.
For me this particular skill is what determines if a virtual assistant is really extra special. The VA industry thrives on technology and technology is ever changing. Everyday there are new updates and releases to software we use for our jobs. Every month there’s a new app that’s trending, a new social media platform to get to know, a new method of doing things, a new algorithm to learn. Are you able to keep learning new things and moving forward?
You may also need to be flexible with regards to your business on a whole. Maybe you’re starting out with a set plan in mind; you know what you’re going to niche in and you think there’s going to be a demand for it. But what happens if after a few months you realize the demand really isn’t there? Are you going to give up and quit? Or will you be able to shift and learn the new skills necessary to make yourself relevant?
You absolutely NEED to know how to manage your time. There’s isn’t going to be a schedule set for you by a supervisor with a start, lunch and end time. You’re all on your own and can work whenever you like; if you don’t have the discipline to manage your time efficiently you’ll find yourself speedily heading towards failure.
You’ll be managing several different projects for your clients and you will need to make sure they each get your full attention. What a lot of virtual assistants tend to overlook when they’re just starting out though, is that you’ll also need to be able to manage your own projects as well. While you’re helping entrepreneurs run their business, there is no one helping you run yours. You must be able to find the balance that allows the time to adequately manage your client’s requests but still implement your own business processes.
Time management helps you make better decisions and maximizes your work.
If you’re lacking in any of the soft skills above it doesn’t automatically rule you out of having a virtual assistant business. It’s definitely possible for you to still get clients and make money if you’re missing any of these skills. However, these 5 skills will shift you from just having a hustle that brings you in a few extra coins to having a truly successful business that allows you to thrive and live your ideal life.
The good news is that aside from Integrity/Dependability, pretty much everything else on this list can be learned. I can’t teach you to be a good person, you either are or you’re not, but everything else we can work on and improve. It may take a bit longer than if you were to learn a hard skill since soft skills call for a development of self; but as is the case with most things you have to work hard for, the reward will be immeasurable.