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WHAT IS YOUR NAME?

There was a HUGE debate going on and posted on the “Linked In” website regarding the Virtual World. The issue was regarding whether you should drop the name Virtual Assistant from your title, logo, or whatever, and use other options to promote yourself, or your small business in the virtual world…or EVEN in the real world!

The debate went on for several months, and came to no definitive conclusion, more – that it was a voting platform to see who agreed to dropping the name vs. who disagreed. Now this is not the platform to vote either way…even though my profound belief is that anyone that is setting up business in their own home, are virtual any way you look at it. They also assist business people with whichever specialty niche they possess. So, on a personal note, although I thought the initial discussion was very good, I think it soon became a contest, and reply’s became redundant and serving no real value after a while. If you want to call yourself a VA do so, if not, don’t. That simple – no one has to “prove”  their title to be successful in the virtual world.

Here is what the International Virtual Assistant Association has to offer…as stated right on their website. They offer first, their definition of a VA.

“What is a Virtual Assistant?”

Virtual assistants are independent contractors who (from a remote location, usually their home or office) support multiple clients in a variety of industries by providing administrative, creative, and technical services.

“What is the International Virtual Assistant Association?”

The International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the professional education and development of members of the Virtual Assistance profession, and to educating the public on the role and function of the Virtual Assistant. The IVAA provides continuing education, networking opportunities, member benefits and optional certification to its members, as well as provide a member directory and Request for Proposal (RFP) system for parties interested in utilizing the services of a member virtual assistant. http://www.ivaa.org.

Now, who is, The Georgia VA Connection? (GVAC)

Simple too…we are a State member site that is a direct connection from IVAA. So far, there are 10 states that expanded locally to promote virtual business (ideal for businesses who don’t want to go out of town to hire a VA) and the GVAC is the newest member site dedicated to:

Promoting IVAA
Virtual Assistants
Connecting local businesses with Virtual Assistants in Georgia
The bottom line? Change your business name if you must, that’s fine, but don’t go down that lone mental- health road of losing your identity of who you really are, and always will be…a VIRTUAL ASSISTANT, no matter what your “title” is.

Thanks to Virtual Assistant Networking Association (VANA) and The International Virtual Assistant Association (IVAA) for making the industry what we are today… not hundreds, but thousands of happy VA’s providing Virtual Assistance all over the world!

WHAT DOES YOUR BLOG SAY ABOUT YOU?

 

 

"I'm breaking the word-check rules today and writing about me, I, myself"...1st person!

 

I received many comments about my blog when writing about merging technology and sports. Obviously, this passionate topic warrants a lot of considerations. It got me thinking…”Isn’t it funny how some blogs get very little attention while others are jammed with responses?”

One comment that alerted me to my topic today, was suggesting that I should teach others how to write a blog. I smiled big on that one because my blogs are probably the most “relaxed and informal” work of all my writing skills and talents. On my blogs, I write as I talk…it’s like having a conversation with you on paper, or should I say, a screen…LOL.

Let me share with you my take on blogs.

I see blogs as being an instrument to show others “who” you are, more than what products you are selling or what marketing you are doing for your own business. Sometimes, it’s just good to see the person behind the scenes, you know.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfect place to market your business and get some free advertising for yourself. I assure you, I can write formal blogs that would gain attention, and I do write them for clients that want strictly professional. However, a blog is also the one place you can get to know someone by his or her writing. Consequently, it invites a comment or response from the reader with whom you have just made a connection with through your blog.

Now social media is a venue that does play into gaining a viable connection. However, you can only write one or two liners, “you are doing this or that today”, but where on the net can you just express your ideas, feelings, favorite things in life, or even promote yourself in a manner that expresses who you are as a person…right, a blog.

In my world of opinions, there are several types of blogs:

Opinion blogs
Marketing blogs
Product blogs
Point of Interest blogs
Political Blogs
Inspirational blogs
Self-help blogs
Technology blogs
Family/Parenting blogs
Sports blogs
Pet blogs

The list could probably go on and on…but guess what? If you really want to be a great blogger, write about every single one of those topics and pretty soon you have reflected the person you are behind the scenes. Don’t forget, a picture is also worth a thousand words…so don’t be afraid to use them. The main suggestion is to just be you and have fun with it. It is your website/blog site and it’s the one place you can communicate who you are – by what you write…and that my friend is the best place to strut your personal (not private) stuff!

NEW YEARS BUSINESS RESOLUTIONS FOR SUCCESS

With the New Year quickly approaching, many of us are no doubt thinking about Resolutions for next year. Several of these may include:

  • Dieting
  • Get Rid of Credit Card Debt
  • Stop Smoking (Yuk! You still smoke?!!!)
  • Stick to Household Budget
  • Ask for that Promotion at work (during THIS economy?! Nah!)

However, with the economy sinking into the abyss more and more each week, perhaps some newly suggested guidelines would be more realistic in achieving success, making for a productive year in the long run.

Let’s start with Business Resolutions:

Delegate We always want to do things ourselves.  We very rarely delegate any work because we just don’t trust that it will get done as efficiently or thoroughly as if we did it ourselves. This year, let’s PROMISE ourselves that we will delegate some work so that we can increase production and add new clients to our database. Delegation also helps us  to balance work and home life making for a happier life.

Promote your Business – It is so easy to fall down on promoting our business because we tend to believe that a one week blog should be significant enough to tap into the areas of marketing that are important. NOPE. We all need to market our business either through a Marketing Coach or create a strong strategy that goes beyond Social Media Marketing. Too often, it is easy to assume that Google or the social media sites will do the marketing for us, but for a successful business, this is not realistic thinking. We have to push beyond the comfort zone for business success.

Take Inventory on Your Business –  Let’s take a look at last year’s successes and failures and refine, rework and redefine, the do’s and don’ts in each area to help us plan better for this year. What have we learned from our mistakes? Have we done research to check out different viewpoints or ways of doing things so that we can improve our own approach? We should allow ourselves the time to do research weekly to be sure, that we can pre-empt any possible mistakes before they happen.

Networking & Business Groups – Probably the easiest thing for us to do is stay in our comfort zone when it comes to networking and we also prefer to do it online. If we don’t allow ourselves to go beyond that comfort zone and go “outside” to promote our business, we fall short of becoming known and reaching potential clients. If we plan on attending a networking group once a month, (at the very least) we will improve our business contacts by a minimum of 50%. How many clients do you think that would bring to our business?

Personal Time – If we don’t have “downtime,” we invite the creepy crawler of “burnout” into our lives. Burnout will only make our business suffer since our heart, mind, soul or energy, will not make us functional…and this could last for months, curtailing your business success. A happy home and family make for a happy work life; there is no doubt about that. So on that busy calendar we have, let’s block out one day a week for “me day” which could include going to a spa, getting our hair or nails done, going to the gym, going out to lunch with friends, or even enjoying our “alone” time with just a good book.

Set Realistic Goals – It seems that at the beginning of each year, we all jump into all these new goals which we are determined to achieve with all the energy and determination of a bull ready to charge. Our goals need to be realistic and able to achieve. If we don’t set realistic goals, we will become discouraged quickly and fall short of even trying to maintain or achieve them. Let’s make a wish list of what we would like to achieve this next year. Then, we can do some research to see how others have done it, or gather information to help us formulate that goal. Information is so vital to success, and it is right at our fingertips every day while we are sitting at our computer! Let’s allow those fingers to do the walking on the information highway to success!

Office Equipment – Take inventory of your office and get organized. Do we need new equipment or are we making do? Are our “real” files organized and easy to surf through?  Is the environment helpful for our focus, or do we need to have an office at home with a closed door and a dog that needs to be in quarantine for the day, so he doesn’t want to play or distract us? Are the kids on a timetable that is conducive to working at home uninterrupted for a couple of hours? We can’t ignore the kids for work, or even ignore the work for the kids, so the key is scheduling our time and efficient tools and equipment that help maximize our limited time.

Results of Strategy – If it’s broke…fix it or drop it quickly. Let’s not waste a lot of time working on things that will not help us reach your goals. Drop it and move on. Normally, trial and errors in our business dealings are what help us move forward if we stay focused on its value, and know when to drop out.

Finally, we need to re-evaluate our goals every 6-8 weeks and readjust if we find that we have fallen off the wagon!  To quote a popular song, “pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again!” Ok, it is an oldie, but it is still a goodie!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE AS WE MOVE FORWARD TO

NEW AVENUES OF PROSPEROUS BUSINESS VENTURES!

The Teachings of Life in Quotes

The concept of a tree of life as a many-branched tree illustrating the idea that all life on earth is related has been used in sciencereligionphilosophymythology, and other areas.

Many famous quotes lead us down the path to success. These quotes feed that internal drive that helps to define who we are, what we are made of, or enlightens us as to what we hope to become. Such quotes can be inspirational, motivational, spiritual, or thought-provoking. Some of them are testimonials from great Greek philosophers. Others are note-worthy disciples of quotes spoken by Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, and even Yogi Berra. Essentially, if we are open to learning in all aspects of our lives, from the Bible to the famous words of great authors, quotes and symbolisms, we are ready to capture that internal area of ourselves that wants to be enlightened and fed.

Mother Teresa provides a good religious one…“Words, which do not give the light of Christ, increase the darkness.”

Ironically, these quotes appear somehow, at  just the right moment in life that we seem to need them.

Let’s say you are at the baseball game, and the score is tied 3-3. You are in the locker room where Yogi Berra is telling you…“You give 100% in the first half of the game, and if that isn’t enough, in the second half you give what’s left.”

Why is this quote famous? The coach’s words mean more than just telling his team to win the ballgame. You can apply this principle to all aspects of life. Take business; you can’t go half way to make a new business grow; you have to give it your all. On the other hand, use that same principal in marriage…if we only meet our partner 50% of the way, there is a 50% chance it could fail. It’s the same principal in many areas of life, which is what makes the quote famous.

Lou Holtz, retired football coach, sportscaster, author, and motivational speakers says:

“If you don’t make a total commitment to whatever you’re doing, then you start looking forward to bailing out the first time the boat starts leaking. It’s tough enough getting that boat to shore with everybody rowing, let alone when a guy stands up and starts putting his life jacket on.” — Lou Holtz

This quote can be applied in many areas of life as well. If you have a stack of cans, 5ft tall, and a child happens to pull the bottom can out first, the entire stack falls and scatters. Alternatively, let’s say if you are a minister or political figure, and a scandal breaks out, the congregation or the constituents cast a pall over the whole congregation, and the trust of the people in both cases suffers.

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” — Vince Lombardi

Look over the following quotes and see how many different areas in your life they could be applied to.

Every great man is always being helped by everybody; for his gift is to get good out of all things and all persons.” — John Ruskin

“It is the men behind who make the man ahead.” — Merle Crowell

“If I have seen more than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.” — Sir Isaac Newton

“There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.” — Emerson

“You can accomplish much if you don’t care who gets the credit.” — Ronald Reagan

“Remember, nobody wins, unless everybody wins.” — Bruce Springsteen

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller

“All of us are smarter than one of us.” — Japanese proverb

 

The famous serenity prayer, however, which is mostly geared to those suffering with the disease of alcohol abuse or addiction, is one of the strongest messages in life quoted by many, which could become a mantra for all of us to live by…

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

We can all learn many lessons if we remember to nurture our own Tree of Life with meaning, purpose and value – standing by our convictions, but always in humility.

Marketing with Mail

Email Marketing is just ONE aspect of gaining a potential client. Personally, I am not totally opposed to the old-fashioned idea of doing mail-outs…want to know why?

The postcard, brochure, or flyer is laying in the mail pile of the Executive’s desk until he can get to it. If it is colorful, attractive and professional, chances are he will glance at it contrary to tossing it in the trash.

On the other hand, emails are so inundated now with social marketing info, networking groups, colleague’s mail, and scams that the vast specialization of social networking is taking over the internet. When one goes to their email, more-than-likely they are hoping to see a new client, or a proposal to obtain a new client, or a return request for work from previous clients. I personally think social media may burn out someday, but not to worry. Someone will come up with a newer better idea in its place.

Having worked for several of the large companies as an Executive Assistant to the V.P. and CEO’s, I actually loved going through what some may term the “junk mail” however, more than once, there WAS a service that my bosses were interested in.

They see the mail first thing when they arrive in the morning. It’s in their hand! Then, once again, he sees that piece of mail which needs to be moved, It’s in his hand! while he works on something else, then it is moved again when he cleans his desk, again, it’s in his hands!…Hey, in one day that Boss touched your piece of mail 3-4 times and chances are, he had to look at it.  I bet not one boss prints out an email you are using to market yourself with.

When you are marketing, there is such a thing as the ’33 Touch program that stands for 33 contacts or touches over the course of the year. This is done of course, by 12 monthly newsletters, eight pieces of mail, market reports, thank you cards or handwritten notes, three telephone calls, two personal contacts and one client/sphere of influence event, according to “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent,” Gary Keller. Whew!! Then there is always networking in person so you can meet the potential client first hand.

If you see a colorful post-card on your desk, you now know it was from ME; if you had to touch it 3-4 times, you might as well read it the first time around!  Thanks!  I’ll be waiting for your call!

TEAM – Mission4Maureen, REACHES OUT as “HOPE STEPS FORWARD”

An interesting conversation took place between my brother and I this week.  It was regarding Cancer Research.  I had a widget that I installed on my site asking people  to “stand up to cancer”, and having 2 members in my family die of cancer, and a third battling it as we speak, I was ready willing and able to attach any and all links toward Research of this horrible disease to help eradicate it if at all possible.

As a certified Grief Counselor, I have worked with several groups who were either dealing with cancer themselves, or dealing with the loss of someone they loved due to Cancer.  There are so many things to deal with – even beyond the most horrible of which is the cancer itself, that many of us do not even think about beyond the loss.

My brother and sister-in-law lost a daughter to brain cancer.  She was only in her 30’s and left behind a husband and three small children at the time, all trying to cope with the horrible loss, which of course all family members felt for our beloved  Maureen.  For Maureen’s inspirational story, please go to http://www.Mission4Maureen.org  and see how the family dealt with their grief and turned a horrible tragedy into a memorial that transcends their completed grief process, into positive motivation in helping others who suffer the demons of cancer.

My brother pointed out to me that while Research was so very important, even just as important, there are so many families dealing with high financial costs due to members having cancer and how difficult it was trying to cope with the high cost of medical bills.  To that end, I went to HIS website and read the stories of so many who are suffering, so many success stories of those fighting cancer, and noted the help that this organization, Mission4Maureen has contributed to so many families.  Whether it was a light bill, food, medical equipment or gas for the car – this team has done so much for families in honor of their beloved Maureen, that you could not help but want to contribute to the cause.

This weekend, you will hear about the “Have a chance Walk” which is a walk for cancer patients.

Every year, the team for Maureen, walks or contributes, inspiring the “hope” that ignites the fuel to support their cause.  Grants have been awarded, monies contributed, prayers and well-wishes have abound as a result of their efforts.

This year’s Have A Chance Walk is counting on a huge team turnout as “Hope Steps Forward” on October 17th!

For team members arriving from out of state, Rooms are available close to Battery Park at the Holiday Inn Express at 126 Water Street, New York City, NY 10005,(http://www.hiexpress.com/hotels/us/en/new-york-city/nycsf/hoteldetail#hotel-information) Hotel Front Desk: 212-747-9222.

Also, please R.S.V.P. on the Events Page at Mission4Maureen.org so we have an idea as to how many will be joining us. I will be updating as we get closer to the event. Even if you can’t join us, don’t forget to register as a team fundraiser to add to our team total! (http://www.active.com/donate/haveachance2010/HACLWALKER)

If you don’t live in New York, or can’t attend the walk, you CAN donate to this great cause.  Just follow the link above and help out those families who have such a big burden, that even your small donation can be appreciated by the help it provides.  Thanks for your support.

Networking! The Art of Selling Yourself

This week was very busy! I did some serious networking for not only my own business, but for our new local member site, The Georgia VA Connection.(GVAC) (Click on my picture and it will take you to that site)  I am the founder and President of this new member site, and I have a fantastic board of additional founders making up a great team of Virtual Assistants located in Georgia, but we do work for clients outside the state too.  The Georgia VA Connection is a site originating from the International Virtual Assistant Association and the goal for all of us, of course, is to solicit new business for ourselves and collectively work on marketing a connection between GVAC and businesses in Georgia.

Given that background, this week was the first meet & greet of our new member site in Georgia, and we were very pleased how well it turned out!  More importantly, the ladies and gentlemen all networked together and exchanged laughs and thoughts.

That evening brought a couple of us to yet another networking event for the National Association of Women Business Owners, where there were over 60 exhibitors all networking and doing their thing all over the place. A bounty of business cards were exchanged, and I had an increase of over 50 emails since that event…and a couple of phone calls!

It brought home to me again, that networking is an art form.  One Coach was giving away a free drawing for hypnotherapy that would assist me in my business. I won…but –unfortunately, so did all my associates…a ½ talk session (sales session!) to see what type of therapy would benefit us the BEST, either on a personal basis or for our businesses. Unfortunately, I confused hypo with hydro and thought I was going to get a water massage! I was very excited.  Only took a minute and a booked appointment to finally see that this gal was cleverly getting people to her office by giving them nothing more than a free ½ sales pitch in her office!

That my friends, is art form to the highest degree…it almost worked too…but in the end, I did cancel that appointment seeing no need at all to take a swim suit!

Mary Beth