Do you know which skills you need to be successful? I see this question 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: What Skills Does A Virtual Assistant Need?
- 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“.
What Are Soft Skills?
Well.. they’re the skills you need to master when working in a service-based business. Because 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.
They Are Not Hard Skills
Hard skills are expertise based skills such as:
- Email Marketing
- Social Media
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 be a service professional.
You can have the “hard skills” but if you don’t have the soft skills too – it’s hard to keep clients! (Hard skills will be covered in the next two blogs in this series.)
So… let’s dive into the top 5 soft skills you need to embrace and master.
The Top 5 Soft Skills are:
- Problem Solving
- Time Management
Let’s break them down one a time, starting with Communication.
This is 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 have any experience being part of a team. It’s important 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 part 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.
#3 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 need 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 important to find different, sometimes out-of-the-box solutions to problems. This is where you can reach out to team members or even your clients to help find the best solutions.
This 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 can pave the way to success.
#5 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 the work you do.
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!
Soft skills are important 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