There are a number of membership associations for Virtual Assistants out there, so how should you decide which is the right organisation for you?
I appreciate that the majority of Virtual Assistant membership associations, both within the UK and globally, share some of the ideals that fall within the broader VIP VA vision: we all want to promote the Virtual Assistant profession and support each other to find greater shared success in our community.
There are also quite a few differences between the organisations too – some associations request a minimal donation to register with them, whereas others have a slightly higher fee but are international organisations, bringing together VAs from across the globe. Some membership associations have mentoring opportunities and job boards, others provide training courses to help Virtual Assistants the world over to remain competitive in a fast-developing industry, and many provide virtual support groups via Social Media platforms to allow this virtual workforce to ‘keep in touch’ and collaborate with their peers.
Although some Virtual Assistant associations have a ‘Code of Ethics’ that they require their members adhere to (promoting honesty and quality, professionalism and client confidentiality – all key characteristics for a successful Virtual Assistant, we’re a big fan of these!), we wanted to take things one step further with VIP VA and be the first organisation to set industry standards. We wanted to set the VA bar higher, so Business Owners looking to take on a Virtual Assistant are guaranteed to find support from a professional and skilled individual who is committed (and legally bound) to protect their interests and data. A few VA associations have recently started requesting that their members provide evidence of their professional indemnity insurance, ICO registration, etc., and are therefore addressing some of the responsible working practices that we promote. But VIP VA don’t just promote individual professionalism and responsibility – our aim is to help elevate the entire VA community. We want to challenge the idea of VAs as a ‘cheap and quick’ workforce, or as people without relevant experience who simply purchased a laptop ‘et voila!’ – instant VA. We all know that these misconceptions don’t represent the vast majority of VAs, but you can’t deny that this is how a number of people view Virtual Assistants (indeed, this was an idea that was clearly conveyed in our 2017 survey of non-VA business owners), and we want this to change.
As I’ve said before, VIP VA accreditation isn’t a whimsical flight of fancy that is designed to create division within our community, but it is meant to ‘shake things up’ a little in an industry that is growing every day, but occasionally seems reluctant to embrace certain aspects of change – such as tackling the issue of a perceived ‘lack of professionalism’ or as VAs a ‘cheap’ workforce – in order to guarantee the longevity of the community. We don’t just want to make a positive difference to our own members, and we don’t just listen to our members as we decide what the priorities of our organisation should be; last year, we were the first VA organisation to survey outside our own membership community to find out about the positive and negative issues that were impacting Virtual Assistants in the UK and internationally, and the results of these surveys have shaped our vision for the next 12 months and beyond. VIP VA is also driven by a team of experienced VAs, meaning that our courses, advice and campaigns are all based on the lived experiences of real, successful VAs at the top of their game – each of whom brings a unique and fresh perspective on ‘life as a VA’ to the table.
VIP VA’s own membership and accreditation fees are in place as they represent a proportion of the time and effort that we put into our accreditation process and ongoing virtual support and training; We are here to provide advice and guidance based on our first hand experiences of working within this exciting industry, and offer our members exclusive webinars with some of the most exciting and relevant speakers that we can find to help in the continuing pursuance of top quality professional development (though these webinars can also be purchased on an individual basis to ensure that all members of our community, whether a member or not, can gain access to these events).
We know that VIP VA Accreditation and Membership isn’t for everyone, and that is okay, but it works. We’re proud to be members of the global VA community, and support the ideals of our fellow VA membership associations. We just want to take the VA industry to the next level, and would love you to come on the journey with us.
Our full time business is to help VAs be the very best they can be, and many members see the value of this investment:
“My name is Gemma Pybus, and I joined VIP VA as a Member in February 2017 after meeting Charlotte and some of the other members at Office*. I was wary of joining a Virtual Assistants organisation at first, as I am not a ‘Traditional’ Virtual Assistant (I’m a copywriter) and was concerned that I’d be a poor fit, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Although it is a highly over-used cliché, I really have found my ‘tribe’. My business has thrived over the last 12 months, and I really do attribute much of this success to the group. The monthly webinars are always relevant and practical, the monthly member calls are a joy, and the group itself is a haven of collaboration, support and friendship. I am constantly encouraged to be better – not through guilt or feelings of inadequacy – but through being inspired by Charlotte and the other members of the group, and I have definitely become a better VA as a result of this.”
Gemma Pybus, MVVA