There are quite a few VA forums on the web these days. Which indicates that the industry is healthy and growing and there’s a need for VAs to seek assistance, advice and support, as they build and develop their VA practices.
For a long time I’ve been a fan of the email based forums, mainly because I don’t have to remember they exist, the emails arrive in my inbox and I can go read them at a time that suits me. However, it does mean that you receive every single piece of email that is generated by those forums and sometimes the topics might not be relevant to your particular needs at the time. Or it might seem there’s too much happening at a time when you can’t afford to be distracted.
Enter the board forums. Yes, you do have to visit to learn about new threads that are being discussed but you can choose to subscribe to the threads you are only interested in, and if you’re no longer interested you can unsubscribe. Board forums allow you to see who are the most active members, and like social media tools, allow you to see that person if they’ve added their photo to the avatar. I like that you can see the full thread for each topic discussed, instead of it being mixed up amongst other messages. There are a number of other benefits that I’m beginning to really appreciate.
Many years ago I started up the Virtual Assistants International Group (VAIG) at yahoogroups.com, mainly for members of my VA network, but over time I opened it to any and all VAs so that others could benefit from the discussions there and to encourage networking and interaction between all members of the forum. It had many homes, having started in 1997, finally finishing at yahoogroups in 2003 and has been there ever since.
Earlier this year I decided to start up a board forum, initially so that members of my VA network could have a place to discuss things amongst themselves, closed to the general public but then I felt again, that they, and other VAs, would benefit if some of the board forum was open publicly. This is something I can’t do with the email based forum. Enter the VA Directory Forum. Now that the forum has been established and we have members and discussions taking place, it’s time to take it to the next step. I’m busy redesigning the front entry to the forum and plan to put a number of things in place for forum members. So, hence the question at the start of this post. What’s in a forum? Or, more to the point, what would you like to see in a VA forum?
Addendum: Thank you to those who have been filling out the survey. It is anonymous so I don’t know who sends in the comments but one person did ask what part was open to the public. If you view the forum without logging in, you’ll be able to see that. Once logged in, if you are an ACS member you’ll be able to see the whole forum. Those that aren’t ACS members are unable to access the discussions in that portion of the forum.
Please fill out this survey and let me know what you look for in a VA forum. I will publish the results in a few weeks. Thanks for participating.