It might sound like strange advice to give a VA… to act like a fortune teller. You may be picturing a woman in a tent or shady backroom, hands hovering over her crystal ball. Someone inviting you to pick from a deck of cards in a spooky, cartomantic experience. Or have visions of being told in a dramatic tone that you will meet a “tall, dark handsome stranger” But I’m talking about something different.
A Different Kind of Fortune Teller
I’ll explain more in a moment. First, let’s put things in context. When you get paid as a VA it is your reward for a job well done. It could be for your expertise, knowledge and skill in one or many tasks, including:
- Writing reports
- Creating spreadsheets
- Managing and analysing the numbers
- Producing eGuides or lead magnets
- Putting together effective presentations
- Managing a client’s inbox
- Creating and developing resources
- Adding branding and graphics to rough documents
- Assisting with virtual or remote team meetings
And the list goes on. Being a VA, you get paid for what you get done.
But there’s more to it than that.
Being a smarter VA, you also get paid for what you know. Here’s what I mean. Companies, organisations and solopreneurs are facing new challenges every day. They are busy. Often stressed. Often stretched. People who can help them both lighten the load and enlighten them about what may be around the corner, are going to be in high demand. I’ve talked before about the advantages of keeping on your ‘radar’ for what’s happening in your field – and the industries or sectors you serve.
You can do this in a variety of ways.
Join relevant groups on social media. Join networking groups or online communities. Attend webinars. Attend online events. Ask your audience. Carry out surveys. Run polls. Watch the news. Listen to the radio. Look out for documentaries and features about business, the economy and society. Your radar will help you to understand the current challenges, issues and problems your clients and prospects are facing. That can really help you when marketing and promoting your essential VA skills. People like doing business with people they like. People give preference to doing business with people who they not only like – but who they feel have a good grasp of their particular situation, goals and aspirations. However, that’s just one step towards becoming ‘indispensable’ for your clients. The next stage is this.
Become a fortune teller for them.
(And I don’t mean relying on bits of paper from broken cookies). This is about widening the scope of your ‘radar’ to explore the likely FUTURE challenges and changes ahead. Some big corporations already have ‘fortune tellers’ in their team or buy in consultants – who might be called things like trends analysts, forecasters or futurists. But for the SME business owner or solopreneur, that level of expertise is usually prohibitive, simply on cost.
They would love a simpler, less expensive solution.
And that’s where the smarter VA can step in and offer support – and get paid extra for doing so. If you can offer a version of that fortune teller or futurist role, you can demonstrate the extra value you bring to prospects and clients. It’s a bit like the intuitive Executive Assistant who can read the mind of their boss and put things in motion ahead of time. That’s a special skill. It’s something you can charge for. Either as a project fee, ongoing retainer or increased hourly rate. Businesses, organisations and teams want to be up to date and fear falling behind. If you can offer intel, ideas, advice and solutions to help clients stay ahead of the curve, you are going to be in the ‘most wanted’ category, at the top of the league of VA’s.
How do you get started?
There are many ways to expand your radar and become a fortune-telling superhero. Here are seven suggestions for you: 1. Join LinkedIn groups of the trade press for the sectors or industry your clients are in – and for business in general. Simply be a ‘fly on the wall’ and observe what’s happening in the world. 2. Follow Thought Leaders and Professional Futurists on Social Media. You don’t have to be the expert. You can see what key figures – and people who are ‘in the know’ – know… and share that knowledge with clients. 3. Read the Newspapers – the paper version or online, it doesn’t matter. These are a strong resource for news and features. Your local library usually has a selection available, either in print, online or both. 4. Read Business & Industry Magazines – This is where you can discover more about current challenges, emerging trends, forecasts and statistics. Subscriptions typically offer introductory rates or check with your local library for free. Business publications you may want to explore include The Economist, HBR (Harvard Business Review), Forbes, Fast Company and Bloomberg Businessweek. Remember to look for specialist magazines that cover the sector(s) your clients are working in. 5. Look for up-to-date industry research and trends reports – A little bit of searching online and you might be amazed at what’s available out there. Your clients may not do this so you can impress them when you send an update, share a report summary or highlight a trend to watch out for. 6. Keep an eye out for new books being published – Not only might a single title be of interest to a particular client or prospect, but this is also a way to spot emerging trends. For example, you’ll now find more books coming out about brand storytelling – because that’s very “in” right now in marketing. And bookstores now have dedicated shelves to books on ‘smart thinking’ – all leaders like to associate themselves with that phrase. 7. Observe your Clients’ Competition – It may help to see what new products, services or practices other companies are doing. You can alert your client to new ideas others are using or even suggest something that the competition has missed. Visit company websites, check out Social Media business pages, drop in on conversations and announcements online. You will no doubt find other ways to stay up to date and spot things which you can valuably share with clients and prospects. When people receive something with a note saying, “I saw this and thought it might be of interest to you”, they will notice the effort and usually appreciate the intention. Do that on a regular basis and your name is going to crop up in company conversation – for all the right reasons. You never know what it might lead to. Footnote: If you want to stay up to date and ahead of the curve with your MS Office and Microsoft 365 skills, you will find my range of lifetime-access online courses a valuable friend.