Do you know which soft skills every VA needs to be successful? I see questions related to skills being asked on social media all the time. So I thought it would make for a great series of blog posts. There are 3 blog posts in the series, each one with a specific topic on skills needed to be successful as a Virtual Assistant.
- Part 1: The 8 Soft Skills Every VA Needs To Master
- Part 2: The Top VA Skills Clients Are Looking For
- Part 3: Skills To Be A Professional Virtual Assistant
This first blog post focuses on what I call “the soft skills“.
Don’t forget, you can also listen to this instead of reading the blog post. Simply hit the play button below.
What Are Soft Skills?
What I call “soft skills” are your people skills. The online dictionary defines soft skills as “the personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.”
They are the soft skills every VA needs to master. Remember, the VA Industry is a service-based industry, where we work one on one with clients. It’s all about building and maintaining strong relationships with our clients.
What Are Hard Skills?
Hard skills are expertise-based skills, such as:
- Email Marketing
- Social Media
Please don’t get me wrong hard skills are a MUST but so are soft skills, and they seem to be overlooked. These are the skills you need to master to become a service professional.
You can have the “hard skills,” but if you don’t have the soft skills, it’s hard to keep clients! (I will cover hard skills in the next two blogs in this series.) So… let’s dive into the top 8 soft skills you need to embrace and master.
The Top 8 Soft Skills Every VA Needs To Develop
- Honesty and Integrity
- Problem Solving
- Time Management
- Customer Service
Let’s break them down one a time, starting with honesty and integrity.
#1 Honesty And Integrity
Having integrity and being honest is number #1 on my list. The VA industry is a relationship-based business. Who wants to do business with somebody dishonest or someone with no integrity? Not me! It’s even more important since we work virtually!
To me, it’s simple. Be honest if you make a mistake – own it! Then fix it. Don’t make excuses, apologize, then take care of it.
Be transparent about your abilities. If you don’t know how to do something – say so. Let your clients know you’re willing to learn. But please don’t take on a task because you want to learn on the fly. Or because you need the money.
I’ve heard too many horror stories from clients about how a VA promises the moon and then falls off the earth’s face with their money because they can’t deliver. It’s what causes trust issues for so many people.
Be accountable. If you’re going to miss a deadline – say so. Have integrity in your work and how you represent the VA Industry. It makes a difference for all of us.
It’s the most important soft skill to master. If you can’t communicate effectively, it’s hard to meet your clients’ deadlines and expectations, especially since we’re virtual.
It’s important to ask questions, so you fully understand what you’re doing for clients. If you don’t understand – ask. There are NO stupid questions, except the ones you don’t ask. Don’t worry about looking silly for asking questions – it means you’re listening and trying to gain an understanding.
Since we’re virtual, we communicate in different ways. Know what the best method of communication is for you. Let your clients know. Remember.. communicating clearly involves listening and speaking, be sure you’re doing both.
And always be honest if you made a mistake. We all make them; the worst thing you can do is try to cover it up instead of own up to it.
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to know how to work well with others. Realize that you might need a combination of soft skills to be effective at teamwork, especially if you don’t experience being part of a team. It’s essential to listen to others and inspire your clients and team to work together for the best results.
It also means you need to do your own part. Recognizing your role in the team and acknowledging others’ contributions is important. You are part of your client’s team, even if it’s just the two of you.
#4 Problem Solving
You need to be okay when it comes to dealing with unexpected issues or problems – it’s going to happen. You can’t freak out – well, you can, but don’t let your client know <grin>. Problems and issues are just part of life and business.
The best thing is to know they’re going to happen from time to time and, if possible, have a plan B. Technology is a blessing and a curse; sometimes, things blow up or don’t work as expected. It’s just part of having an online business. You have to be ready to solve any problems that come your way.
This requires creativity and good analytical skills. When it comes to problem-solving, you should be able to analyze the situation and look at it from different angles. Plus, it’s crucial to find other, sometimes out-of-the-box solutions to problems. It’s where you can reach out to team members or even your clients to find the best solutions. Problem-solving is one of the best soft skills you can have if you’re looking to be more than just an assistant.
Are you able to change direction and think fast on your feet? Are you willing to try new things? Flexibility is a skill that can help you survive as an entrepreneur and a Virtual Assistant.
Business changes, technology changes. Change is part of life – you need to embrace it or at least be willing to bend. With this skill, you are more likely to be open to learning new things and moving forward.
If one thing doesn’t work (or stops working), you need to be flexible enough to try something else. Your ability to have an agile mind and thought process could pave the way to success.
#6 Time Management
This is a BIG one. If you want to be successful, you need to know how to manage your time. Time management is key to being successful in this business. Why? Because we complete tasks or projects for clients, and they want them delivered on time.
Understand which tasks are vital to your business, and which you can do later or delegate. Revenue generating tasks are the ones you should spend 80% of your time on – because that’s what pays the bills. The other 20% should be spent on your own business – the day to day stuff that keeps your business running.
Knowing how to use your time — and developing the discipline to stick to a timetable — can help you make better decisions and maximize your work. I use a combination of tools to be sure I get done what I need to. All of my client tasks go into my Task Management system (Teamwork), and I use a planner to keep track of my daily to-do’s. This system works for me – find one that works for you!
#7 Customer Service
This one relates directly to honesty and integrity. I come from the school that customers are always right. You do whatever it takes to make your clients happy. Do what you say you’re going to do. Make them feel understood and appreciated, and treat them with kindness and respect.
If you screw up, you own it. You say, “I messed up. Here’s what I did, and I’m going to fix it for you.” And you don’t charge them for the fix because it’s your mistake. Everybody makes mistakes. The worst thing you can do is try to hide it or blame it on somebody else. Stand up, say you did it, take ownership, be accountable, and fix it. Be grateful for your clients – without them, you wouldn’t have a business. Strive to make your clients happy, and they’ll stick around.
This one goes hand in hand with all the soft skills I’ve covered. It’s part of having integrity and being honest. Be ethical. It’s simple – don’t cheat, lie, or steal from your clients or anyone, for that matter. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t take on work that you know you can’t do. Remember, what you do affects the whole VA Industry.
Soft skills are essential to the success of your business. When you develop them, you have the chance to push yourself to the next level. They will help you stand out as a professional in the industry.
What do you think? Do you have experience with these soft skills? I’d love to hear from you.
Feel free to post below and let me know what action you’re taking to improve your soft skills.
All comments and questions are welcome.
Thanks for reading – Susan