There are a lot of people who will tell you that hiring a VA (Virtual Assistant) is a great thing for your business. When they do, ask them what they have VA's do for them? DO NOT hire a V.A. to post on the internet, on blogs, on social medial sites or on forums soliciting business or you. DO NOT have a V.A. post under your name leaving yoru website everywhere connected to silly comments clearly written by someone working for $2 an hour with little command of the English language in hopes of building back links! If you want to hire a V.A. - hire them for menial tasks and research. If you want to build an online reputation as someone who actually knowswhat they are talking about, then you need o do it yourself. You cannot hire this our to a Virtual Assistant and expect to be taken seriously.
Case in point: I am reading a real estate economists' blog this AM and the thing is littered with spam comments seeking to get backlinks for a well known real estate personality. I'm not sure if this guy is a guru or not and what level of respect he gets does not matter to me. I can tell you that if people read these comments, it will definitely go down over time:
hi,Nice posting.it would be more interesting and informative to us.we have news about
real estate investing.visit: (removed for his sake!)
This is attached and posted from this persons online persona attached with his gravatar. It is followed by three more comments by the same VA and all three suck as bad as this one!
In marketing, it is a major pet peeve of mine when people outsource thinking they are following the Time Ferris model and they end up looking like Ferris Bueller.
Too bad a quick google of the comment reveals who it is...
I think the influx of gurus or whatever you call them give the rest of us investors a bad name. You have to wonder how much of their business model is selling guru material as opposed to actual real estate investing. But considering how much some gurus are making or made (eg. Montelongo) there might be a method to the madness.
I think in the end I'd rather build my company to have an image similar to Chris's company.
We just talked about this recently, @Chris Clothier . It is astonishing to me that people would outsource one of the most important components of their business to the lowest bidder.
I recently got an email from someone I know that was clearly sent from a VA (the IP led back to Pakistan); the message was a generic sales letter, but the problem was that it assumed the person and I weren't connected. These kinds of things will happen when you outsource your business. There are no shortcuts to building your brand or reputation. As you can tell from Chris' example and mine above, those shortcuts can be very damaging.
Damn @Glenn Espinosa - You are too smart for me and I didn't realize Googling the comment would reveal the name. It is never my intention to embarrass anyone - just to use the example as a good teaching point.
@Joshua Dorkin and I had just talked about this on the phone last week. There is nothing more important than how you conduct yourself and your business. Your image is everything and the web is so permanent. In Josh's case, an email is absolutely permanent. It is crazy how many people don;t really get the point of all the outsourcing advice. You keep the most important tasks and outsource the tasks that make you more productive!
Glenn, I do appreciate the kind words in the last sentence. Thanks. We have worked very hard and are very protective of our reputation and our image.
Yes I have struggled with wanting to outsource some things of my own. Namely maintaining a database for my mailers.
I like the fact about the rates being cheap overseas but you get what you pay for. I was looking more for a database entry person to build an address list in excel. Once I have this set list I just mail marge and send out once a month.
The database person has to be good at researching etc. which is why I want to use someone in the states who I feel comfortable with and local. Eventually I might bring someone on full time but the thought of paying additional taxes doesn't sit well with me and employee benefits versus a VA.
The structure I have thought of is say I want a database of all the apartment owners in my county 5 units or more. I agree on a price to compile the owner list in excel BUT I figure I won't pay the person until I do 1 mailing and see how many are delivered.
This way there are 800 properties to research and get owner contacts for and the VA can't hotdog and only do 4 valid addresses out of each 10 and make up stuff for the rest. I am thinking I might just have to do this myself but I have to give up some control to rid myself of mundane tasks.
I would never have someone posing as myself making comments on things. I would think you were posting an image of fraud at that point. You are asking a person to interact with someone that is not even truly there. When people choose to work with me they get me and not my assistant, some VA, etc.
I think doing databases , creating marketing brochures, and doing research (behind the scenes stuff) is fine. The frontline things people still need to do. I have seen companies pop up that offer to do this for you but it doesn't seem smart to me.
Those types of VA's mentioned gives the real, professional VA's a bad name! you can outsource that kind of stuff to a virtual assistant..just don't choose a $2 an hour virtual assistant working in The Phillipines. You really get what you pay for. I wouldn't trust anything with someone I only have to pay $2 an hour to. If it sounds too good to be true, it most definitely is!
There's no reason why hiring a virtual assistant should lose you any credability...providing you choose a good one. I've been working with mine for 3 years now and would trust her with most things. You have to build up a relationship..
This is another instance where balance is required. Sure, there are tons of things someone could hire a V.A to do to free up some time and increase their own production, but as others have mentioned many things cannot/should not be done by someone else. I would never let someone post under my name (no matter how great they are). I try to take pride in what I write (although I am sure I have posted some things that people might assume were done by a cheap VA), and I think it is important that only you represent yourself both online and in person.
These issues go with any assistant and employee as well, not just the virtual ones. I have seen instances of actual office assistants and personal assistants hurting people and companies because of their actions. You have to be very careful who you choose to let represent your business, but I would never let anyone represent me!
It would seem like the whole process of a VA doing faulty work could be avoided if you simply quality checked the VA's work prior to it being posted on the web. Proofreading a blog (or some other article) before being sent out could take only about 5 to 10 minutes as opposed to however long it would take to write a blog post.
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