Image your website just got hacked and you don’t know how to fix it, and don’t have the time to deal with it. Or, suppose you just found out about a new way to take your business to a whole new level, but you don’t know anyone with the knowledge and time to actually make it happen, and don’t have the bandwidth to figure it all out yourself.
How are you going to find someone to help you out if you don’t know where to start? Reach out to your contacts and friends? Scour your contacts on LinkedIn? Or maybe you’ll just hit the message boards and try and figure it out yourself.
Take a Step Back
Before we go any further, let’s take a step back, and think about why you are scrambling to begin with. You lack that go-to person with the skills, time, and knowledge to help your business, who is willing and able to give you a hand.
Your buddy might do it for free, but probably doesn’t have the knowledge you really need. The expert who has just inspired you to take action is great for the 1,000 foot level, but chances are you’re going to pay through the nose for their expertise, or spend hours digesting their material. You could try and hire someone on short notice who is a pseudo-expert, but it could be hit or miss if they really can deliver when and how you need them to.
So you’re on your own – either trying to do it all yourself, or maybe passing up on a great opportunity to grow your business because you simply don’t have the bandwidth to act. It’s rather ironic that in this age of some much interconnectivity, it’s actually harder than you might think to get many of our common problems solved. Interconnectivity is a double edged sword where the same ease of use that allows us to connect with so many people and ideas also brings so much noise and makes it difficult to find folks to really give us a hand when we need it. It doesn’t have to be this way.
A New Approach
Suppose you had a mastermind group of 10 to 15 handpicked professionals who know you, a specific facet of your business or industry, and who are willing to not only offer you advice, but have the knowledge and time to do some serious work for you right now.
The good news is the road to developing such a network is straight forward, inexpensive, and can start yielding fruit very quickly.
Welcome to Gorilla Networking With All-Star Virtual Assistants
Leveraging Virtual Assistants can be an effective and often untapped resource not just to get work done inexpensively, but more importantly, it can be used as a tool to build a long term global network of professionals you can tap into months and years ahead.
I’ve managed over 100 VA projects over the past few years, and it’s amazing the great relationships and diverse network that starts to develop on even the smallest VA project. Assembling a team of All-Star Virtual Assistants whom you have a great relationship with, who understand your business, and are available for quick questions or large projects can really transform your business.
When some folks hear about Virtual Assistants/outsourcing, they think of low paid and unskilled workers, who can yield scattershot results. This perception touches on an important fact – learning to find quality VAs and successfully utilize them in your business is indeed a skill that takes time to master. However, with so little downside and risk, and so much potential upside, it’s a skill that’s well worth developing if you want to take your business to the next level.
VAs by the Numbers
There are well over a million Virtual Assistants worldwide, with skills ranging from entry level to PhDs, and the opportunities are truly massive. Right now on oDesk alone, there are close to 100,000 VAs with a feedback rating of 4.5/5.0 or higher, and of these, over 10,000 have over 1,000+ hours of experience, at a median price of under $10/hr. These are folks that know how to reliably provide value to your business day in and day out. I call them All-Star VAs.
When you consider some of the obstacles many of them have had to overcome to successfully and consistently work with European/Western clients (power outages, learning a foreign language, working in a timezone 8-12 hours away) they exhibit some serious hustle. They have overcome barriers you and I will never face, spent countless hours building and developing their brand, and have been able to rise to the top 1% in their field. I have found this shared entrepreneurial bond between All-Star VAs and small business owners often results in amazingly strong and productive working relationship.
Test projects for $10 – $50 can be posted on sites such as oDesk, and can be posted in a matter of minutes. It’s very easy to try a number of different projects, and the chances are quite good that you’ll come out ahead while you learn the ropes of VA delegation, all while rapidly developing your business network. Below are five steps to start you down the path of building your business network using Virtual Assistants.
Actionable Steps (The APPLE Method)
1) Assess the Need for a project you could hire a VA to do.
2) Post a Job on a site like oDesk, Elance, etc. using other similar posts as templates for what to include.
3) Prescreen the Applicants through e-mail and Skype.
4) Leverage Your Selected VA to perform a trial project – this involves not only getting a job done, but establishing a relationship with them as well!
5) End the Project, taking full advantage of the work while learning to hone and refine your process for your next project.
Where do you want your business to be a year from now? What areas could you use some help down the road? Consider investing your time in searching for All-Star Virtual Assistants who might become part of your business mastermind group, and can help bring you future success and less stress in the coming year!
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Virtual Assistants, check out Jonathan’s session at NMX entitled, “How to Use a Virtual Assistant to Produce Your Podcast.”