When I started as a Virtual Assistant in 2009, one of the names that keeps popping up in Google when I search for “virtual assistant” is Kathie Thomas of A Clayton’s Secretary. I remember it so well because she served as an inspiration – without her knowing it. 🙂
I admired her commitment to the field but more importantly her generosity to share what she knows to aspiring VAs so they can be as successful as her.
I saw Kathie active in a Facebook group for Virtual Assistants offering advice and sharing nuggets of wisdom to anyone who needs it. So, I thought I’d get in touch with her to tell her how awesome she is (fan mode:on) and ask some questions too!
Here’s a quick background about Kathie Thomas: Kathie Thomas is the current President of Australian Virtual Assistants Association. She founded Australia’s first Virtual Assistant Network in 1996. She is also a Virtual Assistant Coach & Trainer. Additionally, she is an award-winning author. She is the Virtual Assistant Queen!
I had 5 questions for her. And she gave me 5 straightforward answers. Ready to get some valuable Virtual Assistant tips?
1. How did you get started as a VA? What attracted you to it?
I began before the industry began, as a home-based secretary, wanting to be home for my 5 daughters. The internet happened about 18 months after I began my business and so I started to explore a new way of doing business.
2. Being one of the pioneers of this industry, what do you think has changed ever since?
Just about everything 🙂 Technology, phraseology, how you work with clients, how you bill clients. There’s not much now that’s the same as it was 21 years ago when I started.
3. To be a highly competitive VA, what skills and traits should one possess?
First and foremost a VA must have good computer based skills, in whatever services they wish to provide. While you can learn on the job with some things, you must not learn on the job with brand new clients and a brand new business. You need to build trust and rapport with clients first and then, if they ask if you can do something you haven’t done before, you can offer to help them to find someone else, or offer to learn how to do it. Another trait a VA must have is good people skills. You can be a talented technician in the skillset you have but if you rub people up the wrong way, then say goodbye to your business. People (clients and your suppliers and peers) should be treated with respect and integrity.
4. How would you define the term Virtual Assistant to a newbie VA?
I explain that a VA is pretty much like a corporate PA, but with a wider skillset and operating from a home based office for a variety of clients, rather than just one boss.
5. Where can aspiring or transitioning VAs find you?
I run “A Clayton’s Secretary” which is a Virtual Assistant Network and directory of VAs for clients. My website is www.vadirectory.net and we have members in many countries. The network has been in existence since 1996 and through it we give VAs exposure on the web and connect them with clients. I also provide Virtual Assistant coaching and there is a link on that site for that, as well as the VA forums I run and manage.
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