By Kathryn Tongg

1. Establish the preferred method of communication right away. Everyone has a way they prefer to communicate. Whether this is via phone, text, email or other app such as Slack, determine upfront what your client prefers. This will ensure you’re both on the same page with clear expectations.

2. Be patient in the onboarding process. Give yourself at least 30 days to learn the ins and outs of everything. This can include the client’s personality, the company culture, new software and apps you’re using etc. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the onboarding process. The first 30 days are all about getting acquainted and building trust.

3. Set measurable goals up front. Working for Belay, this is something they’re really big on. When starting with a new client, we set 3 Wins and 3 Goals based on their needs. This gives you some benchmarks to reference to make sure you’re staying on the right track.

4. Be on time for meetings (even virtual ones). For me, this meant logging onto the call 10-15 minutes early. You never know what internet or computer issues you’re going to run into and this gives you time to troubleshoot in the event something goes wrong. On that note, invest in a hotspot for rare emergencies where WiFi isn’t available.

5. Schedule a regular meeting time with your client. We opted to meet once a week via Zoom call. We used our Standing Agenda (see #5 for more on this) to guide our conversation and took the opportunity to catch up on anything that was more easily discussed “face to face.” I highly recommend recording these calls as they are helpful to reference if you missed any details.

6. Be open to trying new things. I came into my new job with Tiago expecting to make suggestions on ways to improve efficiency and make his job easier. By nature of what he does for a living, I quickly realized I was going to learn equally as much, if not more! It was a huge stretch for me at first, but as I embraced it I gained new tools that will last me a lifetime.

7. Create a project list. Whether you use a simple Google Doc, or a more robust program like Asana, create a project list that you and your client both have access to. This helps provide accountability for tasks you’ve discussed. Tiago and I used a running Google Doc. Each week I dated it for the day we’d be meeting. He would add things he needed to share with me and vice versa. As I completed tasks, I crossed them off and added any needed notes.

8. Communication is key. As a VA communication is key. Since we don’t have the benefit of being in the same building as our clients (or even the same state for that matter) it’s imperative that you keep open communication with one another. For me, this was sending updates on the status of any projects I was working on. Even if nothing had changed or progressed, I would keep Tiago in the loop.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Just do it nicely. Ultimately my job as a VA is to make Tiago’s life easier so he can focus on the things only he can do. So once he’s delegated something to me, he may not be thinking about it any longer. If there is a piece of information I needed in order to complete something, I reach out. Depending on his schedule, he may not respond right away. Depending on the time sensitivity of the task, I may reach out again the same day, or wait a few. The important thing to remember here is your client has hired you to help them. So don’t be afraid to do just that.

10. Have fun! Get to know your client and enjoy the process of serving them.

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