Are You Referring to Me?

There is an on-going debate in the Virtual Assistant community about potential clients asking for references. Some are offended; some don’t really care one way or the other. This is my spin on the issue.Virtual Assistance is still a new industry, though for those of us who have been at it a long time, it doesn’t really seem that way. However, most of the business world is just beginning to discover the benefits of partnering with a VA. And it is the job of all VA’s to educate potential clients about what we do.When you are interviewing a potential client, you cover all your bases by asking pointed questions about their work style, business plans, technology, etc. You ask the questions that get you the answers you need to determine if (a) you can work with this client and (b) if you have the skills to do what they need to have done.And the potential client is interviewing you as well. So don’t be surprised when they ask for “references”. They are simply following good business practices.Would you hire another VA for your team without checking with people she/he has worked for or with? Doubt it. And if you would, well don’t get me started.Many of those who argue against references (and I used to be one of them) say that because you are an entrepreneur, you should not be asked for references. They see it as demeaning. You wouldn’t ask your accountant or lawyer for references would you? Um, yes, I actually would.If I am going to trust ANY part of my business to another person, I want to know about their track record. I want to hear from people they have worked with/for to get a sense of whether they can do the job I’m asking them to do. I want to know about quirks. I want to know about results.I wouldn’t hire a [insert any job title here] without asking about their success stories or without speaking to some of her or his clients first.Testimonials are great, and many say that that is what you should give to people asking for references. While testimonials can help, they are static. They are never going to give you the same feedback and information that a phone call to an actual human being will give.And since most people find their Virtual Assistant via web searches, it makes sense that they are exercising a fair bit of caution. The web is notorious for fly-by-night schemes and shams, and those who are looking for a VA should be cautious in choosing one. That means they will ask for references. They will want to speak to your clients. They will do their due diligence.After all, wouldn’t you?

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