Thursday, May 24, 2007

Virtual Assistant on NBC!!!

NBC Today Show Showcases Colorado Virtual Assistant


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen L. Reddick, MVA
Tel: (720) 870-6435
E-mail: Karen@VandEServices.com
Website: http://www.vandeservices.com


CENTENNIAL, CO (April 2007) – Six years ago if anyone had told Karen Reddick that the growing industry she has been working hard to promote would finally receive its day in the limelight with a segment on the NBC Today Show, she wouldn’t have believed it. It’s a dream come true to see the industry she is passionate about get national attention. Reddick is a Virtual Assistant (VA) who helps small businesses successfully run their businesses virtually from her home office. When an NBC correspondent got wind that there was such a business, they became intrigued and decided to pursue the story. NBC flew to Reddick’s home office in Centennial to film a typical day at the office. They also set up a crew at one of Reddick’s client’s office 850 miles away in the St. Louis area to show how easy and efficient working with a VA can be. The piece is scheduled to air in April.

Reddick, owner of V-And-E Services, is a former executive assistant and originally conceived the idea for her business in October 2001 immediately following 9/11. Starting her new career was her way to put family first and be home for her then pre-teenage daughter. Reddick helps clients by working remotely and uses the latest technology to deliver creative administrative support and technical business services to busy professionals. Projects are often handled over the phone, by fax, e-mail and instant messaging.
Most attractive to her clients is perhaps the fact that Virtual Assistants are responsible for their own taxes, training, healthcare, insurance, and overhead costs that make hiring an in-house employee expensive. Reddick states, “My clients pay only for the time actually spent working on their projects. They don’t pay for my coffee breaks, visits to colleagues or other things that happen in a normal office environment. This is a great benefit for them to pay on an as-needed basis.”

Reddick is also the author of The A-Z Guide: The Best Ways to Work With a Virtual Assistant, which shows businesses exactly what a VA can do for them. In her A-Z Guide, Reddick starts with the letter A and highlights typical services such as administrative assistance, ad campaigns, appointment setting, auto responders; B--bookkeeping, branding, brochures, bulk mailings; C--concierge services, copywriting, contact list management and so on. It clearly helps businesses and virtual assistants see exactly what a VA can do for them and highlights tasks they might not have even considered.

“I think this industry will just continue to grow,” Reddick adds. “This used to seem like a radical concept; and now hopefully with this national recognition it will allow other business owners to realize how using a Virtual Assistant can streamline their administrative tasks and save them time and money.”
As proof that the industry is growing, Diana Ennen of http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com recently landed an interview in Reader’s Digest, where she was able to spread the news of the Virtual Assistant Industry. The article talks about making money while working at home, stating “If you possess word processing, transcription, bookkeeping, public relations, or website design skills, you may want to try employment as a virtual assistant. Ennen is quoted as saying, “There is so much work for VAs that the field is thriving. It is absolutely booming.” And Ennen believes this with all her heart.

Look for this segment airing on NBC sometime in April. Stop by Reddick’s site at: http://www.vandeservices.com for additional information on the VA industry and her services.
About V-And-E-Services: V-And-E-Services specializes in “taking the administrative weight off the shoulders” of the small business owner and/or entrepreneur so they can concentrate on making their business grow. Visit http://www.vandeservices.com for more information. Reddick also offers a weekly newsletter entitled Grammar Tips From The Red Editor, a division of V-And-E-Services. http://www.theredpeneditor.com.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Gossiping

Living with 3 teenagers and overhearing conversations they have when friends are over I know all too well about gossiping and how hurtful in can be. In this day and age with the internet gossip can travel at light speed. I try to explain this to my girls... never write something about someone else in IM, Myspace, Email, Chat rooms, your Blog, text message or anywhere that you would not be comfortable saying to that persons face. In this day and age... integrity is incredibly important to possess. Gossip is not just a teenage girl phenomena... it happens everywhere. We all do it. I do it. My friends do it. My dog would do it, but he can't talk. I found this article... thought I'd share. Next time you start to type something about someone else... stop and think how you would feel if you knew they were going to be reading it or how they would feel...


Esther Muller - Gossip Hurting the Industry
By Esther Muller

"Fair words never hurt the tongue." —George Chapman, seventeenth century English poet.

After a few recent instances where my colleagues’ words scorched professional earth like runaway forest fires, I find myself wishing that more of my fellow real estate brokers would take Chapman’s wise words to heart.

Allow me to share a couple of examples. While enjoying an evening out at a real estate event with a friend of mine, another colleague came over and blurted out to my friend, "I heard how you treated your ex-husband!" Needless to say, we were both shocked at this woman’s indiscreet and unprofessional outburst. Later, I found out that she got this alleged tidbit from my friend’s doorman.

At another event, also related to real estate, I heard biting words about one of our industry’s rising stars — an acquaintance of mine. The verbal venom took my breath away. What dismayed me — and many others in attendance — was the casual ease with which others partook in what I can only describe as a conversational lynching.

What is particularly sad is that the allegations from both incidents were completely false. Yet they were said — and spread — as if they were the truth. Unfortunately, these two incidents are not aberrations; they are becoming more and more commonplace, and accepted, within our industry. It’s not just a lack of civility that bothers me — it’s the idea that the malicious chatter of a few will discredit most of us.

"Words have the ability to create their own reality," says Allan Schranz, who has lectured on the power and impact of language. Hurtful, spiteful words can take on a life of their own. Truthful or not, they can have a severe, devastating impact on a person’s reputation or career. According to a Gannet News Service article that quotes Schranz, "gossip can undermine workplace morale, affect productivity and lead to bottom-line problems." Some people engage in this activity for a specific reason. "They know the consequences of their actions," says Schranz. "For them, this is a strategic way to advance their own cause."

We’ve all gossiped, but have we ever considered the consequences of our words? "Negative language not only reflects badly about the person you are speaking of," says Schranz. "It also reflects poorly on you."

Think about what’s at stake: if Broker A will say something negative about Broker B, what is he saying about you or me? Would I really want to work with — or trust — Broker A, knowing that he may speak negatively of me?

So what can we do? A suggestion: we need to become more verbally aware and more sensitive as to how our words may affect others. "People have to be trained to listen to themselves," says Schranz. This can be extremely revealing. We may not like what we hear, but we can learn from it.

This business is full of talented professionals. When was the last time you offered a compliment to a colleague on his or her exceptional work? Nobody has ever resented receiving praise, says Deborah Tannen, Ph.D., the linguist and author of the book "Talking From 9 to 5." By building up another person, you create a positive reputation for yourself, as well as creating a foundation of trust and goodwill, all of which you may need for a challenging deal that requires outside assistance.

The next time you feel the urge to gossip, stop. You may accomplish more by saying nothing at all.

-
Ms. Muller is the master teacher at The Real Estate Academy

Monday, May 21, 2007

My Dog Poncho

Obviously this blog is still evolving. Is it for business, coaching, Virtual Assistants, my friends, my clients, strangers? Who knows! I'm still trying to figure that out. Today it is for my ramblings.

I'm pleased to announce that my dog Poncho made it in to a blog. Although it is a blog written by a cat who doesn't think very highly of dogs... Poncho is still honored to be mentioned. If you'd like to read more about Poncho check out: The Life of a Cat



















Here is prince Poncho sleeping with the princess. Notice the photo on the night stand...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Wall Street Journal and Reader’s Digest Explore the Thriving Virtual Assistant Industry

Congratulations Kelly!

Another 8 Hours Publishing
(WebWire) 5/8/2007 10:45:07 AM

O’Fallon, IL (May, 2007) — The Virtual Assistant Industry shines this month when two major publications recognize the profession and provide tips for getting started. The Wall Street Journal quotes best selling author Paul Edwards as saying, “Virtual assistants provide services ranging from administrative support to consulting via e-mail, fax and phone.” The article continues recommending several books for getting started, including
Virtual Assistant–The Series by Diana Ennen and Kelly Poelker. http://www.careerjournal.com/columnists/workfamily/20070504-workfamily.html

In the May issue of Reader’s Digest, an article entitled New Ways to Make a Bundle states, “If you possess word processing, transcription, bookkeeping, public relations, or website design skills, you may want to try employment as a virtual assistant. Ennen is quoted as saying, “There is so much work for VAs that the field is thriving. It is absolutely booming.” The important thing is to use your own skills and expertise to build your business. Starting a virtual assistant business isn’t a get rich quick scheme. It takes time and talent, but those who succeed can’t imagine doing anything else. Clients are grateful to have talented, highly skilled, and motivated virtual assistants to support their business growth.

Ennen and Poelker’s book, Virtual Assistant – The Series has become what many call the Bible in the Virtual Assistant Industry inspiring readers and providing priceless tools on everything from choosing the right specialty, to promoting your business, to daily operational procedures. Along with its accompanying Workbook Edition, it is quickly becoming a staple in colleges as more are adding VA Certificate Programs to their curriculum. Randi Tucker Barr, an Instructor at Raymond Walters College, states, “I have incorporated their book and accompanying workbook as required text. The book guides students from the basic concept of the Virtual Assistant Industry to creating a workable business plan, marketing plan, and web presence. The workbook encourages students to integrate material from the book into their personal goals and objectives. My belief is that Virtual Assistant – The Series has given my students the necessary foundation to become successful entrepreneurs.

Virtual Assistant – The Series is available at
www.VA-TheSeries.com as well as through online retailers. The authors are available for media interviews via email at: authors@VA-TheSeries.com or by calling 954.971.4025 (Ennen) or 618.624.3080 (Poelker).
Related Links

VA the Series
http://www.va-theseries.com/
Virtual Word Publishing
http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com/
Another 8 Hours
http://www.another8hours.com/

Contact Information
Kelly Poelker, Publisher Another 8 Hours Publishing(618) 624-3080
authors@va-theseries.com

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Soul of Business™

© Castle Montone, Limited
Part One
The Guiding Light of Business — Branding

Soul and business. Business and ... soul. You don’t often see these two words in the same sentence — especially over the last "make-it-until-you-drop-I don’t care who’s in my way” 60 years.

If you have "it", you understand the concept without skipping a beat.

If you’re looking for "it”, you feel a longing with every step you take in your business — even if it’s just the unspoken tug of unknowing.

If the concept of soul and business in the same breath incites you to... uncomfortable levels... well... that’s a whole different article.

To understand the concept of the soul of business, you have to consider what soul means. The challenge is — it has a different meaning for each individual. The context is flexible. It’s in the beholder.

This is also where the fun and the power of business is... IF you know how to tap into it.

Soul Defining

Defining the meaning of soul is like defining the concept of reality — you make it up. The real power resides in your meaning of soul, its application to your business and your unwavering command of that power.

The dictionary defines soul as:

  • the complex of human attributes that manifests as consciousness, thought, feeling, and will,
  • somebody’s emotional and moral nature,
  • the deepest and truest nature of a people or a nation,
  • what gives somebody or something a distinctive character

These definitions come close, but lack that mysterious unspoken essence of something that is far bigger. It’s that space that you fill up with... experience.

If you apply this unspoken power to business, both large and small, you will arrive at the very core of what makes a business tick — from why it was created to why it continues to exist.

Unfortunately, the problem is most small entrepreneurial business owners focus their initial business efforts "outside" of their business, on marketing, on sales, on... proof.

Then, if they are able to hold on enough to stay in the game, layer after external layer begins to form which solidify with tactical approaches to continue to market, to sell, to prove.

Eventually, this outer layer becomes heavy and can cause a business to implode if the core of the business isn’t established and maintained. Or it could lose its way altogether if the wrong kind of funding is thrown it’s way.

Remembering the Future™

Over the past eighty years the way business is done has come full circle from the days of yore when you brought your soap from the general store, which was at the front of the grocers house, through the industrial revolution of mass production and distribution, to the return of the human to human connection — through the internet.

Unfortunately the way business has been communicated hasn’t kept up with this change.

The old industrial model of advertising, of "sell the sizzle", or as I refer to it , "chasing the flash", is no longer enough for people.

Consumers have the power of choice and they can feel if there’s "something" behind the flash or... not.

Brand communication, including marketing and advertising, is on the cusp to a whole new way of consumer communication. A communication that has behind it a greater reason — beyond the mo*ney for product exchange. A communication that is fueled by the soul of a business.

The New Biz Buzz Word

If you polled a hundred people 25-55 about what they were missing in their lives and you were able to drill down to the core of their answer they would say, in one form or another, an authentic connection.

Even large brands, like Starbucks, Nike and even Apple, are starting to toss around words like real and authentic.

Howard Schultz, the CEO and mastermind behind Starbucks, one of the most successful and often admired brands today, says, "Our rapid growth has led to the watering down of the Starbucks experience. Our company’s soul is dripping away."

In The New Marketing Marketing Manifesto, author John Grant notes, "Authenticity is the benchmark against which all brands are n*ow judged."

The dictionary defines authentic as:

  • genuine and original,
  • shown to be true and trustworthy
  • not a copy, real

Where does this realness reside? In that mysterious space of the soul.

Your Guiding Light Through the Unknown

As a business owner you no longer have to be at the mercy of the unspoken unknown of what is at the core of your business.

Taking your business idea through a process to define that soul shines a guiding light on everything your business is to be and every step you take to make it so.

This process is creating a brand. Branding, when done right, gives you and your business the soul of your business. Once it’s in place, it never burns out.

For the past several years, I’ve been saying there’s a global return to the soul. It’s never been so true in business today.

As a small business entrepreneur you actually have the edge over b*ig brands on the authentic playing field. You haven’t lost your business soul yet. Then again... you may have not yet connected to it.

The exciting thing is, the process to connect to the soul of your business is now at your fingertips. But first you have to put down the tactics.

You can always pick them back up... later.

This article is part of a continuing series exploring the Soul of Business. Stay tuned for more.

© Castle Montone, Limited

Are you making one of the 15 MISTAKES THAT KILL BUSINESS SUCCESS? Find out at www.15mistakes.com.

Brand Visioneer and BrandU co-founder, Kim Castle teaches entrepreneurs and small business owners how to turn their business ideas into a moneymaking marketable brand. If you want to experience clarity all the way to the bank™, get your FREE branding tips now at www.whybrandu.com.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Welcome to Sharon Williams, the Blog Hopping VA. Thank for answering my questions!

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Virtual Simplicity Throws Marketing Questions at Podcast and Blog Hopping VA during Industry Chat

Hi Sally, you really don’t need a fancy blog for my visit. I’m just glad to be here today. This tour has me hopping everywhere and I’ve heard today’s questions relate to marketing and networking – two of my favorite subjects. So, fancy or not – I’m ready!

  1. What is the best way for a VA to market herself?

The best way to market a business is to tell clients how you will solve their problems. That’s the full and complete answer! Satisfied customers spread the word like wildfire about your business and eventually your marketing machine will run on automatic. But, what are some ways to get the word out about your problem-solving capabilities?

  • Networking and building relationships
  • Word of mouth – providing outstanding service to current clients
  • Creating a web site focused on client wants and needs
  • Media exposure – press releases, article marketing, ezine distribution, etc.
  • Search engine marketing – Google adwords, etc.
  • Search engine optimization – strategically place keywords and optimized text
  • Email signature files – promote your business in your signature line
  • Offline marketing – car signs, business cards, postcards, etc.
  • Registering with business directories and VA networks
  • Participating in online discussion forums (industry and client-focused)
  • Volunteer in your local community, join local business groups

I’m reluctant to proclaim any of the above as the “best” way to market a virtual assistant business. I believe the VA should implement a combination of several of the above methods – and at some point all of them – to achieve the ultimate income-generating, productive marketing program.

  1. What online forums do you suggest an aspiring VA join?

A few years ago, I could only recommend a few forums. Now, I can recommend a huge list of forums and associations aspiring VAs could join. However, I will not name any particular forum/group, because the aspirant should actually conduct research before joining a group. She should lurk a while to actually determine how supportive the group is, and if it addresses her needs. The VA can also contact members and ask questions about the group. She can participate in several and eventually narrow her selection down to the few she feels most comfortable with – and then become a very active, contributing member. To assist the aspirant, the Alliance has a comprehensive list of VA online forums and member groups. Take a few moments to visit these links and begin your research.


3. What is the best way for a VA to network off line?

There are many, many ways to network offline. But before you begin, identify member groups/organizations consisting of your ideal clients/target audience. Then take the following actions:

  • Introduce yourself to the group’s leaders and ask them to introduce you to others in the group/or identify someone who is very knowledgeable about the membership and willing to “be your group sponsor”. (I believe a warm introduction from a well-liked, knowledgeable member is always better than a cold hello, my name is introduction).
  • Attend networking activities and listen for issues, problems, etc., that you can solve. At the opportune time (during the event or in a follow-up conversation) inform the individual of how you can assist in resolving the issue/problem OR, that you can refer the person to another resource that can assist them.
  • Identify ways you can showcase your business and the benefits of using your services to the entire organization (5 minute presentation, ezine, mini-training program, etc.)

Of course, there are many other ways to network offline – i.e., volunteering for social causes, joining hobby-related groups, etc. Whichever method selected, if its face-to-face networking, I strongly recommend you institute a process. Ironically, during the upcoming OIVAC, two seminars on this subject will be presented by internationally renowned networking experts Robyn Henderson of Networking to Win, and Donna Messer of ConnectUs Communications Canada. See Robyn, Donna and 25 other scheduled OIVAC seminar summaries here.

  1. Will the online conference have the free entrance to the exhibitor halls like it did last year?

Absolutely! And, the public is invited to visit and learn about individual virtual assistant businesses, associations, networking groups, etc.

  1. I attended last year and have to say I got a kick out of the restrooms with flushing toilets... a group of us kept going to the restroom together just to flush the online toilets. Will there be restrooms at this year’s conference?

You are joking, right? How can anyone attend a three-day event and not need to take a break! Of course we will have restrooms available for your use. In addition, we also have viewing lounges and formal and informal networking areas. So everyone, come on in and enjoy the fun – one flush at a time (smile).

Well Sally, this has been a really interesting chat – and I hope I’ve responded to all your questions. I invite you and everyone else to experience the OIVAC and sign up for the informative seminars given by exceptional presenters. This year’s agenda is stocked with information covering business growth, networking, entrepreneurship, marketing, podcasting, subcontracting, writing sales copy making info products, and much, much more – all material a small business owner needs to sustain a profitable business. And its occurring over a 3-day period from the convenience of a desktop computer. It can’t be any easier or more convenient.

Let’s see, yesterday I actually visited our home blog and tomorrow I’m off to Canada and stopping by the VA Talk Show for a chat with my good friend Tawnya Sutherland. Tawnya is the founder of Virtual Assistant Networking Association (VANA). Just as a heads up, I’ll also be a guest on her upcoming podcast show scheduled for May 9th. In the interim and to insure everyone is on track with the scrambled puzzle game clue, #32 is ednsig.

About Sharon Williams
Sharon is the Chairperson of the Alliance for Virtual Businesses and OIVAC, and president of The 24 Hour Secretary an administrative, secretarial and internet-based marketing support services company. She is the 2006 recipient of the Thomas Leonard International Virtual Assistant of Distinction Award and co-founder of Virtual Business University an e-learning environment for entrepreneurs ready to step towards their greatness.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

OIVAC Blog Hopping Tour



Wow time flies! I can’t believe the OIVAC Blog Hopping Virtual Assistant Tour is coming here tomorrow! When I signed up to be part of the tour I had a month to plan. I had big ideas about creating a super cool fancy Blog. Well… as the saying goes… life happens.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet! Here are my questions… and I’m serious about number 5… I love telling the story to my clients and friends about the virtual conference I attended last year and the really cool restrooms. LOL.

Number 1 is always on my mind… how can I better market myself? I love talking marketing with my colleagues, friends, family and clients.

I am honored to welcome Sharon Williams and everyone on the blog hopping tour to my Blog.

Thanks for stopping by and please leave a comment so I know you did.
  1. What is the best way for a VA to market themselves?
  2. What online forums do you suggest an aspiring VA joins?
  3. What is the best way for a VA to network off line?
  4. Will the online conference have the free entrance to the exhibitor halls like it did last year?
  5. I attended last year and have to say I got a kick out of the restrooms with flushing toilets... a group of us kept going to the restroom together just to flush the online toilets. Will there be restrooms at this years conference?