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By Dexter Lunde
As a businessman, you’ve got a lot of things to juggle: meetings, traveling, finances, etc. How do you manage to do it all without having a coronary or an ulcer? That’s when assistants come in: specifically, personal assistants.
#1) What Does a “Personal” Assistant Do?
First of all, we all have different ideas of what a personal assistant is and what he or she does. For the sake of argument, when I say “personal assistant” or “assistant” I mean:
“A secretary or administrative assistant working exclusively for one particular person.”
That was straight from the mouth of Google definitions, by the way. What I’m getting at is, just because it has the word “personal” in it, doesn’t mean that this person is strictly used to pick up your dry cleaning and your kids from soccer. It just means that he or she works personally with one person.
What EXACTLY does a personal assistant do?
Their main job is to help you be as awesome as you can be. The tasks which they are mostly known for include:
- Time and daily management
Dealing with daily correspondence
Note taking during meetings
Arranging travel (rental cars, booking airline tickets, reserving hotels, arranging activities, etc.)
They are also known for doing some of your personal tasks as well (depending on what you both agree on). These things can include handing your finances, doing some basic shopping (buying your wife flowers on her birthday – they can be real lifesavers), basic motivation for daily tasks like fitness, etc.
How can they help me be more awesome?
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They can give you their input. It’s always nice to have a second opinion. When you build a good relationship with your personal assistant, you for a bond based on trust.
They’re time savers. This is the biggest asset that a personal assistant can offer you. All of those little tasks that take up countless hours, can be done by an assistant.
They can and will to those obnoxious tasks that you hate to do. All of those menial things that you hate to do: filling out forms, scheduling appointments, calling people, etc. These tasks that don’t need your expertise (these tasks just need to get done).
Are they worth the money?
This depends on you. In most cases, the pros outweigh the costs. If you are considering one, then you either need better organizational skills or you could really use a personal assistant.
#2) What to Look for?
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Let’s say that you’ve decided to get yourself a personal assistant. What should you look for when you’re looking at applicants?
A good personal assistant should be extremely organized. This is important because your assistant will most likely be organizing your business and personal life. Not only that but she will have her life to organize as well.
Experience is important as well. While it is true that personal assistants have to start somewhere, if you can get an assistant with (at the least) experience as an administrative assistant, you can be certain that she will be able to hit the ground running. You are busy (obviously) and you can’t coddle her through the learning process.
Since she’s going to be talking with your cohorts, she should be personable and friendly while maintaining a sense of professionalism.
#3) Where to Look for an Assistant
You can look for someone who’s already on your staff. This is the easiest route. Someone who is already working for you, will basically know what kind of workload you have. She will also know the business already. She will have experience working in the field as well (though not necessarily as a personal or administrative assistant).
You can look in local newspapers, the internet, and other media sources. oDesk, DoNanza, and eLance are great places to look for a freelance personal assistant. You can get one for short term or long term. Also, don’t underestimate the good people that you can find on CraigsList
You can look at your local employment agency. Define what you would like in a good personal assistant and what tasks she will be performing. Then see what the employment agency can find. Also check out temp agencies if you just want to try out having a personal assistant during a project or two.
You can work with a headhunter. These are people who specifically scour the local cities and the internet to find someone with the exact qualifications for you.
#4) Virtual Personal Assistants
There are two types of virtual assistants: a program or app on your phone, tablet, or laptop and someone who works for you remotely.
Having a remote personal assistant will open up your options. You don’t have to have someone who lives in your town. Of course, your expectations of that person might be higher because she needs to organize time zones and other discrepancies.
Microsoft just announced their release of Cortana, which is a virtual assistant (like Apple’s Siri) which will be available on their Windows phones. Cortana can manage your calendar, keep notes on your favorite places, ignore calls during your work time (unless you don’t want her to), etc. Microsoft calls her:
“The only personal digital assistant on a cell phone.”
This news comes with the release of the new Windows Phone 8.1, which should be available for everyone this month.
Vlingo is an app that you can download on your Android (if it runs OS 2.0 or higher), iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, or (most) Windows devices. It’s voice powered, which is handy if you think of something while you’re driving or if you have your hands full.
Siri is Apple’s virtual assistant. If you’re one of the thousands who have an iPhone but you haven’t checked out Siri’s options, give the link a click to see what it can do for you.