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This article was published on: 05/01/2003

Virtual assistant forum

Raising Your VA Comfort Level
Finding a real-estate savvy VA and learning to techniques that improve VA productivity can make both your lives better.


BY MICHAEL RUSSER

Dear Mr. Internet:

I'm hearing more and more about the advantages of using virtual assistants for my business. Where would I look to find one that really knows the real estate industry so I don't have to spend a lot of time with training?

Lynda L. Baker
Coldwell Banker Gundaker
St. Louis, Mo.


Dear Lynda:
There are literally thousands of virtual assistants from around the world who are making a huge difference for businesspeople in every industry imaginable. There are times, however, when you need a VA who really understands the nuances of the real estate business. Hiring a VA who specializes in helping real estate practitioners typically lets you gain productivity almost immediately since little or no training is required on your part.

Often real estate practitioners hesitate to hire a virtual assistant because they’re afraid that working remotely will create difficulties. It’s challenging enough to train a personal assistant in the same office on your procedures without adding time and distance to the equation. And how can a virtual personal assistant ensure that you have all the documentation you need for closing from three time zones away?

If concerns such as these are keeping your from gaining the benefits of a VA, there is another way besides trial and error to learn about working with VAs. REVA Network is an online group of virtual assistants specializing in supporting real estate professionals as well as practitioners interested in using their services. It was founded by myself and six real estate virtual assistants to expand awareness of the benefits practitioners can gain by using VAs to grow and manage their businesses.

As a member of REVA Network, you can participate in online discussions and educational sessions that help you learn how to work with your first VA or to improve your current assistant's productivity. Membership is free; just click on the “Join” link at the Web site, and complete the brief form.

  • E-mail Discussion List. This listserv is a great place to become familiar with the mechanics of working with a VA assistant. If you’re already using a VA, the online group is a great source of answers to unique problems you encounter working with a remote assistant. For example, "How do you manage work flow and ensure adequate supervision when you VA is working from a remote location?
  • Web Discovery Sessions. If you already have a VA, or even an onsite assistant, these live, online tutorials will show you how to enhance various aspects of your business. To participate in a presentation, all you have to dial into a conference call and log onto a Web site at a specified time. You’ll see a live presenter discussing a topic and showing slides or Web pages as visual aids. Sessions allow direct interaction through the conference call hook-up. It’s just like going to an education conference or association meeting without leaving your desk. A recent session focused on how a virtual personal can do a CMA on a property in your neighborhood from 1,000 miles away. It was an awesome session delivered by a PREVA and moderated by me.
  • Resources. REVA Net also offers links to online tools and sites that can help operate your business and work with your VA more effectively.

If you’re looking for an assistant with a particular skill set, such as e-mail drip marketing, transaction management, or newsletter design, the "Profiles" section at the Network’s Web site is a perfect place to find the right VA. The file contains resumes of both Professional Real Estate Virtual Assistants, who have at least six months experience in working with real estate professionals, and REVAs, who have decided to specialize in real estate.

The use of highly specialized virtual assistants is literally exploding within the real estate industry. Whether you locate a virtual assistant at REVA Network or at one of the other sources listed below, it won’t take you long to recognize the incredible benefits of having a skilled partner as close as your computer.
Article Resources:
REVA Network. A community of specialized real estate virtual assistants and real estate practitioners designed to share information about best work practices.

International Virtual Assistants Association. A non-profit association dedicated to the education of virtual assistants in all types of administrative, creative, and technical fields.

Staff Centrix. A service that sponsors the Military Spouse Virtual Assistants program, which gives the spouses of frequently transferred service personnel an option for employment.

Tip of the Month
As you add more valuable content to your Web site to attract customers, it becomes critical to protect your Web assets from plagiarism by less scrupulous sales associates. For example, top online producer Alice Held of http://www.come2az.com has had her proprietary, and very profitable, cactus-themed Web content used almost verbatim without permission more than once. This can be very frustrating, especially if you have spent the time and effort Held has in creating a unique, winning Web site.

Now there is an easy way to protect your virtual assets. Idea Register is a service of top domain name registrar GoDaddy.com. It allows you to easily and affordably (as of this writing, $89.95) register the copyright of your Web content with the U.S. Trademark and Copyright Office.

Your site is typically considered copyrighted by putting the appropriate copyright notice ( © Copyright, year, by your name. All rights reserved) on each page. However, unless you register your content with the Copyright Office, you have no recourse but a nasty “cease and desist” letter when people infringe on your material. If your site is formally registered, you may be able to sue for damages. And even if you don’t want to go to court, registering your valuable site also gives your rights a great big set of teeth that will likely scare away the most audacious of online content predators.

________________
More Resources:
For more advice on using virtual assistants, visit the Personal Assistant Advisor.
High-Tech FSBO Prospecting, Michael Russer, July 2002.
Real Help from Afar, Michael Russer, November 2002.

Previously by Ask Mr. Internet:
Contact Info in a Click
How Good Are You?
Make Your E-mails Look Great
High Tech Templates


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Mr. Internet is the alter-ego of Michael J. Russer, an Internet speaker, trainer, author, and consultant.

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