Virtual Assistant Is Not A Title

VA is not a title. It’s an Industry. Like many of us, when we’re first starting out, we become part of the VA industry and we take on the title of Virtual Assistant. Which, is really not a good thing.

First of all, if you’d rather listen to this than reading it please check out the podcast below.  

Titles don’t mean as much in the entrepreneurial world or the solo-preneurial world as they do in corporate America.

For instance, when I was in corporate America, my title was Senior IT Project Manager.

Well, a lot of stuff hung from that title, like what I did, who I worked for, which department, how much money I made, and so much more was actually rolled up into my title.

Now when you become your own boss, titles really don’t matter. They don’t carry the same amount of weight as they did when you were an employee.

Nobody Really Cares What You Call Yourself

No disrespect but what clients want is somebody who can solve their problems. You could call yourself Queen of Sheba as long as you solved your client’s problems.

The point is titles don’t really matter to your clients.

Now back to why you need to stop calling yourself a Virtual Assistant.

When you’re talking to people, whether it be family, friends or even prospective clients at a networking event and they ask you – “What do you do?”.

And, you answer – “I’m a Virtual Assistant”.

You’ll most likely get one of two responses.

  • You get the deer in the headlights look. In other words they really have no idea what that means.
  • They assume you’re an admin in one way, shape or form.

I didn’t want to be known as an Admin – because I wasn’t one. I was not offering admin type services  – I was offering back-end systems and techie services.

The types of services that gave my the freedom I wanted and didn’t keep me tied to my desk certain hours a day like admin work does.

So… when I talk to somebody and they’re like, “Oh, Virtual Assistant. You can answer my phone or you manage my email.” I’m like, “Uh, no. That’s not what I do.”

I quickly realized that using VA as a title or as a business owner wasn’t working for me.

I had to spend too much time trying to explain what the heck it was that I did. So, I changed my strategy to thinking about Virtual Assistant as an industry NOT a title.

And… really that is what it is, it’s not a title, but I know for most of us who’ve come out of corporate American or any JOB with a title, that’s what we kind of glob onto.

We want to call ourself a Virtual Assistant. But… it’s time to move on and away from being a “VA”. Remember people, don’t know what it is, they assume you’re an admin.

Start looking at VA as an industry and focus on what you do for your clients. How you help them – that is where you need to shift your focus.

If you need a title for your business card or an event, use something related to the services you offer. For example Email Marketing Manager, Transcriptionist, Social Media Specialist, etc.

Stop Spending Money On Business Cards

They don’t work! Instead use a Benefits Flyer™. It’s something I came up with myself many years ago because when I handed someone my business card (especially if it said VA on it), we had the same old conversation. “Well, what is it that you do? Can you explain that to me?”

So… I dropped both the business card and the title of VA and went with a flyer that says, “Here’s how I can help you.”

I’ve included a link to “How to create a Benefits Flyer™” at the end of this post just in case you want to know more.

Going forward you want to focus on how you help people and the results they get and not on a title.

For instance, let’s say that I am a social media manager and my focus is the travel industry.

So when someone asks, “Hey Susan, what do you do?”

I answer, “Well, I help family-owned travel agencies manage their social media.”  Then people immediately understand what I do.

Use this simple formula: I help, WHO (who do you help – your target audience) RESULTS (what results do they get) and HOW (how do you help them – what do you do).

A few more examples to help you, are:

  • I help Business Coaches (WHO) get in front of their audience (RESULTS) by managing their social media (HOW).
  • I help Yoga Studios (WHO) get more clients (RESULTS) by writing great copy (HOW).
  • I help Virtual Assistants (WHO) launch a successful business (RESULTS) by teaching them how to create and implement systems (HOW).

I know it takes time for many people to come up with these – to summarize them in one sentence.

It took me a long time – it’s part of getting clear on who you help and how. Be patient and practice – it will come. Play around with it. It may not roll off your tongue immediately but it’s really something that you want to start focusing on.

Oh and on a side note… I know many people think that the VA industry is made up of nothing but administrative assistants and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

As I mentioned, I’m not an admin, never wanted to be, never was one. I’m not knocking admins they have great skills but it just wasn’t something that I wanted to do.

The VA industry is very, very diverse just like a business. There’s people here from HR, IT, like myself, people who do sales and marketing, systems and technology and many more.

So…  don’t think that you have to be an admin if you don’t want to be.

You can learn the skills and the systems that you need to make a difference and that helps you quit your soul-sucking job or do whatever it is that you want to do.

Remember… clients are more interested in results NOT what you’re called. Focus on that!

Here is another article talking about why you need to ditch titles and switch to talking to what you do and how you help your clients.

What’s your title?

I’d love to know!

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share.

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading – Susan

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Written by Susan Mershon

Susan Mershon started The Techie Mentor™ in 2013 to teach Virtual Assistants her no-fluff approach to the systems and skills they need to build and automate a successful business.

With a strong base in project management, Susan brings her love of systems and teaching to offer in-depth training and mentoring to new and experienced Virtual Assistants.

She’s taught over 5,000 students her unique systems and strategies that focus on offering high-end skills that give you the freedom to work when and where you want.

To learn more about The Techie Mentor™ and the systems and skills she teaches without all the fluff or hype go to The Techie Mentor website.

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59 Comments
  1. Swati Rapotra

    Hi Susan, Absolutely epic post! Here I found the exact information I wanted and didn’t know who to ask.

    Reply
    • Susan Mershon

      Thank you so much Swati and glad it was helpful to you! Be sure to subscribe!

      Reply
  2. Anitra

    Susan, Thank You for this article. I love it especially since I was just think about and talking titles recently. Even on my live video’s I talk about VA as an industry instead of my title. I’m very adamant about not saying I’m a VA because yes it’s true people either have their idea of what you do or have on clue about what you do.

    I’m a Tech & Systems Detail Connoisseur, who takes care of the important little technical system details that give coaches more time to focus on their clients needs and gives them more freedom to enjoy the other things they love.

    Reply
    • Susan Mershon

      Hi Anitra, thank you for taking the time to comment and you’re kind words! I love your title, and your “tag” line is very clear on the who and how – congrats!!

      Reply
  3. Dawn Beech

    Great article, well said Susan. If you think people in the US misunderstand the VA Industry, it’s definitely a mystery here in South Africa, so great to have a mind change on the title ;o)

    Reply
    • Susan Mershon

      Hi Dawn, thank you so much and for taking the time to comment – much appreciated.

      Reply
  4. Tina PereteTina

    Thank you so much ffor this post. This has given me time to think of what I shall say next I was ask of what I do.

    Reply
    • Susan Mershon

      Hi Tina, you’re most welcome and thank you for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it. Be sure to come back and share what you come up with!

      Reply
  5. Drell Torres

    WOW! You just empowered every individual not to look as mere VA but totally we’re an industry! Thanks for your inspiring thoughts! Kudos!

    Reply
    • Susan Mershon

      Thank you Drell, much appreciated 😉

      Reply
  6. Edna

    Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article It is very helpful. Some of my fellow VA are still stuck with though of ‘Virtual Assistant’ as a title. I want to get away from “Virtual Assistant” since most of my friends do not know what it is as if it is a robot like ‘Siri’. I am new to the industry, but I have experience as a temp. (I signed up with various staffing industry). I had worked mostly with mid-sized company and a few small businesses in the construction/financial industry providing administrative tasks: answering phones, bookkeeping, preparing tax and maintaining/updating/creating customer database via MS Access. I have trouble articulating the benefits clients receive. So I don’t know my specialty, yet.

    Sincerely,
    Edna Vidrine

    Reply
  7. Dineisha

    I provide professional administrative, technical and business to small businesses, entrepreneurs, consultants etc

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thanks Dineisha for commenting 😉

      Reply
  8. Dina Eisenberg

    Great conversation, Susan. That’s the reason why I’m excited to have you as a guest on Blabpreneur! Can I offer a different point of view.

    The title question is tricky. I like to see a more defined, niched title like ‘Webinar Support Specialist’. My expectation is that this teammate is an expert in her field and will bring not only technical but strategic expertise to a team. I think a more specific title allows clients to select you faster, deepen their trust faster and let go faster.

    My niche is really unique and unusual. I’m curious what you’ll say about my pitch, Susan.

    Im an Outsourcing Matchmaker. I love teaching overwhelmed solopreneurs how to know when it’s time to delegate and what to do to select and lead a smart, caring team who helps them survive and soar!

    My niche is licensed professionals like nurse entrepreneurs, lawyers as well as encore entrepreneurs. So lovely to meet so many new resources 🙂

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thank you Dina for your comment. I like to hear different points of view and I understand yours from a client’s perspective. My main goal with the post was to get people to think outside of using titles or just using I’m a VA. Your comment adds more relevance to the discussion – thank you! And you’re pitch is very clear to me – who you serve, what you do and the benefits they get!

      Reply
  9. Leanne

    Online Support in Administrative Services, Research and Resume Services

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thanks for sharing Leanne!

      Reply
  10. Linda Hansen

    Hi Susan! Thanks for another awesome post.

    I help free up time to do what they do best by handling their bookkeeping, websites and social media marketing.

    How did I end up with such an array of clients and niches? How do I specialize, or at least consolidate that statement? LOL

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Hi Linda, thank you! Who is your target market?

      Reply
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