Through my years as a VA I’ve had lots of wonderful opportunities and have learnt lots of new skills in the process. Often a client asking me to investigate something can lead to a new service I start providing – it’s expanded my horizons.
But there are times when we (VAs) need to know when we can’t do something for a client and that they must do it themselves. Networking for the client is one of those things. I know that some clients are so busy that they just want to hand everything over to their support team but I strongly feel that networking needs to be carried out by the client themselves.
Networking is a two-sided affair. Whilst a VA can report back to the client the people they’ve met (face-to-face) or learnt about online, the client sadly misses out on others getting to know them on a personal basis. We are, after all, our own best salespeople, and in this case the client needs to be out there doing the ‘sales-job’ on their own businesses.
The same applies to clients engaging a VA with very little information on the role that is required and then expecting the VA to know and understand the programs involved. One of my team had to make a decision to let a client go when his demands became unreasonable, wanting her to use programs she’s never used before and not being considerate enough to allow her time to learn them, listen to his program CDs and start promoting and selling his program. This was never in the original job request and rather than ask her if she’d be interested, he made an assumption she would just do as she was told.
We need to be clear and upfront about our roles with clients, what we will and won’t do, and recognise when something may be beyond us, or not in the client’s best interests (like networking on their behalf). Boundaries can get blurred with clients misunderstanding a VA’s role and/or simply through familiarity and incorrect expectations.