What exactly is it you do?
I get that question a lot. From the first day I opened my virtual assistance business it became evident that I was going to have to learn how to perfect that so-called elevator speech, because no one that I came into contact with knew what a virtual assistant was. When called upon to introduce myself at networking events I always start by asking if anyone has heard of a virtual assistant. I see more hands now that I used to. Still, those same people who raise their hands end up finding me at some point and admitting that although they’ve heard of it, they really don’t know what one does. Or how they could use one.
In my short introduction I find it hard to really give an explanation of just what it is I do. I’ve always used the line “I provide administrative support to busy business professionals via the Internet”, but I still see a lot of blank stares. Even looking at my website copy (and that of other virtual assistants) I realize that I’m failing to truly answer the burning question.
What do you do?
Most of us have felt the need to define the term virtual assistant. It’s why so many of us have generalized what we do. And in generalizing, we’ve failed to truly inform anyone.
I think this was brought home to me today when I added a column to my Tweetdeck which brought me all Twitter Tweets with the term ‘virtual assistant’ in them.
First I realized a lot of VA’s spend their Twitter time giving examples of what ‘a virtual assistant’ can do. And next, I realized a lot of those things were not items that I provided. Which means, if someone came to me after seeing one of those other virtual assistants tweets, they might end up very confused.
No wonder people don’t know what I do. Unlike most job descriptions, this one encompasses many specialties and many industries. The background and training of each individual virtual assistant determines just what they offer for services. In reality, each and every virtual assistant offers something a little bit different than the next.
Perhaps we need to stop tweeting about what ‘a virtual assistant’ can do, and start tweeting about what we as the individual virtual assistant can do. And maybe we also need to make it a little clearer on our websites too.
In light of this revelation, I think there are two ways to deal with the looming question of “What do you do?”.
If the person is asking about virtual assistants in general I think it would be fair to compare it to being an engineer. Civil engineers, mechanical engineers and chemical engineers all do different things, yet they are all still engineers. Social media VA’s, bookkeeping VA’s and generalist VA’s are all still virtual assistants.
And when they ask specifically what I do? I’m working on coming up with a new elevator speech that is more specific to my services. Not only that, but I’ve decided I need to revamp my explanation of services on my website. I’m going to get specific. When someone comes to my website or reads my materials, they are going to have a much better idea of just what I can accomplish for them.
I think it’s time we stop trying to define the term ‘virtual assistant’ and instead show the world exactly what we can do.