Collaboration in the Virtual Assistant Industry
Collaboration is something that is vitally important if you are a Virtual Assistant. As Virtual Assistants ourselves, (Amy Russell and Gwen Backhouse – organisers of NEVAC) we work closely with other virtual assistants to help clients, share ideas, create events and even just brainstorm with them on projects.
But recently, we’ve been asked a couple of times “why should I collaborate with other virtual assistants when they are my competition?”
So, here is our response…
Plenty of work!
Firstly, there is plenty of work to go around! Yes, there are many virtual assistants out there, but each one has their own unique personality and way of working, they offer their own set of skills and expertise, and that appeals to different customers.
Gwen attends a networking group in Cumbria that includes 4 other virtual assistants, but she doesn’t view this as a problem, rather an opportunity, because different people like to work with different virtual assistants, it just works, and at no point has she ever felt like they were in competition together.
They get together regularly, not only to chat about what they are doing but also if something comes up that any of them think would help another member of the group or one of their clients then they share it right away! They have also collaborated on projects.
Starting out can be daunting
When you’re learning how to grow your business it can feel daunting. Reaching out to other virtual assistants who are more experienced or even at the same stage in their journey as you, can make all the difference.
It enables you to be supported along the way. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Most virtual assistants are more than happy to share experiences and ways they have found to deal with issues. There is nothing better than having a companion to travel along the road with you. If you are at the same stage as someone else, you can learn together, ask for help, support one another and encourage one another.
Sometimes, just having someone who understands is enough.
It’s comforting knowing that there are others out there facing the same challenges (and overcoming them!). It can be a lonely job, being a VA, but having others to support you can break that isolation.
Virtual Assistants may be bloody awesome, but that doesn’t mean we know everything.
We may be experts in our field, but there is always something new to learn, attending industry CPD events, conferences and just sharing and networking with other virtual assistants can teach us so much!
You may think that you don’t need other people or they don’t need you, but that’s not true. It’s important to remember that everyone has something to offer, there is always more to learn and collaborating with others can be the key to learning more.
If you’re new in this business as a Virtual Assistant or have been doing it awhile, then it’s ok to ask for help from other professionals who understand what it takes for their client’s businesses to run smoothly. You can learn so much from others, not just practical things like getting the best deals on services and suppliers but also coping strategies, technical solutions, client relationship strategies and so much more!
You don’t want your fingers in too many pies either—you’ll end up spreading yourself too thin if you try to do everything yourself. Calling on others for their expertise will be good for both you and your clients too.
It is really hard to grow your business when you don’t collaborate.
If you want to grow your business, it is important that you collaborate with other Virtual Assistants.
In order to grow their businesses, many Virtual Assistants like to take on associates. These are other Virtual Assistants who can help and support you in your work, under your business name. And the best way to find a good associate is to… Yep, you’ve got it, collaborate with other VA’s. You can meet someone who really fits in your business.
Collaboration is also the key to learning about what is happening in the wider world that could affect the industry. For example, when GDPR was first mentioned, a couple of VA Conferences had speakers who were Data Protection specialists who taught the virtual assistants attending how to prepare for it and get everything in place when it came into force. Another example is the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, and some prominent people in the VA Community came together to lobby HMRC to consider a dispensation for virtual assistants, which made a big difference to something that could have otherwise been a real problem.
Opportunities in a thriving industry.
There are all sorts of things that go on within this thriving industry, don’t miss out because you are worried about competition.
Within the UK VA community you can find conferences (see our list at the bottom of this email), CPD, trainers, awards, amazing opportunities to get involved with some exciting projects and so much more.
The UK VA Awards are a great way to get recognition for everything you have done and the conferences are great fun, they give you an opportunity to keep up to date with industry news, learn new skills and meet other virtual assistants. So, don’t miss out on these amazing events and opportunities because you are worried about a little competition.
Trainers, Mentors & Coaches.
Finally, and most importantly, if you are in the position of coaching, mentoring, training or supporting others in the VA industry, you have a responsibility to the people you are supporting to give them the gift of collaboration and show them how they can benefit from it and by practising it yourself. You can bring in new techniques, experiences and different ideas from around the industry otherwise you are limiting what you can offer. It benefits you, not just those you are supporting.
If you can, find out if your trainer collaborates actively, you will notice a big difference between those trainers that do and those that don’t collaborate because their learning materials rarely evolve, they don’t know what is going on in the wider industry and what events are happening outside of their own. A good trainer will share news on what is happening throughout the industry and involve others in their training (as speakers, course material writers and they will sign post to other good organisations and events).
Most Virtual Assistants will happily share their experience and knowledge with you, but please, please, be sure to return the favour once you start to grow and gain more experience, and share and collaborate with those who are coming up behind you.
Remember the hashtag #Collaborationnotcompetition and get collaborating – we can’t wait to see you out there!