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Summary:

In the pre Web Worker era, many of us looked to professional organizations for networking, support and a chance to establish ourselves as experts in our community. As we have moved to more virtual work environments in our professions, we have tried to fill this same […]

In the pre Web Worker era, many of us looked to professional organizations for networking, support and a chance to establish ourselves as experts in our community. As we have moved to more virtual work environments in our professions, we have tried to fill this same need using networking sites like Twitter, Linkedin or FaceBook.

But did you know that there are also professional associations available for many for us? For example, the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to education and development of those in the Virtual Assistance profession.

My initial introduction to the world of Virtual Assistants came from a collaboration with a local VA who provides administrative support for small business and associations. Initially my definition of a Virtual Assistant was molded by her and her business model which was providing executive and secretarial services.

In recent months though I have found that it is really much more expansive than that and fits a variety of professions. In fact, it seems much more focused on the delivery method than the type of work performed.

So what is a Virtual Assistant?

The International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) uses the following definition:

“A Virtual Assistant (VA) is an independent entrepreneur providing administrative, creative and/or technical services. Utilizing advanced technological modes of communication and data delivery, a professional VA assists clients in his/her area of expertise from his/her own office on a contractual basis.”

Does this sound like you? I know it certainly fits for me, and I imagine quite a few Web Worker Daily readers as well.

How can you benefit from a Professional Organization membership?

Joining a Professional Association usually brings benefits such as:

  • Access to member resources including forms and contracts libraries.
  • Inclusion in a member directory for networking and marketing.
  • Message boards and forums for support and networking.
  • Meetups, seminars and other events.
  • Certification Eligibility – The IVAA for example offers the CVA (Certified Virtual Assistant), Ethics Check and CRESS (Certified Real Estate Support Specialist) certifications.

In addition, many associations establish a Code of Ethics that governs the behavior of its members. Abiding by these rules of behavior is often a condition of membership and failure to do so can put your membership in jeopardy.

Association membership is usually not without cost though. The IVAA offers a couple of different levels starting at $105/YR / renewals $99/YR and that seems to be in the ballpark of the other similar associations that I looked at. It is obviously important to decide if the benefits of joining will outweigh the yearly fees.

The International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) is the leading Professional Association for VAs but not the only one – other associations include the International Association of Virtual Office Assistants (IAVOA) and the Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce .

While it is true that the social networking has partially taken on this role, joining a professional organization can provide benefits above and beyond what you are receiving now and really should receive serious consideration as a part of your overall business plan.

Are you a member of a professional organization? What benefit does it provide to you that makes it worthwhile?

By Scott Blitstein

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  1. I’m a member of the IVAA and their online RFP system has been invaluable to me… it’s a great way to connect with other small business owners who are looking for a Virtual Assistant. They also have other member benefits such as Long Term Care insurance… it’s a great organization for freelancers like myself!

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  2. Thank you for your post Scott – it’s right on target! Online and offline professional organizations have been invaluable for growing my business and IVAA is at the top of my success list. In addition to all the benefits and online education and networking opportunities, I have seen incredible value come from volunteering to make the organization better. Volunteering gets your name out there, shows your commitment and work ethic, highlights your business skills, and ultimately brings you more business (directly and indirectly).

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  3. Hi Scott:

    Nice post!

    I also believe it extremely important to join professional organizations.

    To me, networking is not just about getting as many people as possible to sign up for your list – it’s about establishing relationships over time. Sure I can have 2500+ connections on LinkedIn – but how many of those connections really mean anything?

    Through my membership in IVAA, I am provided with educational opportunities, resources for setting up my practice correctly, and leads for paying work through the active RFP system.

    However, by far the greatest benefit of being a member of IVAA is that it provides me with access to 1,000+ virtual assistants from all walks of life with all sorts of specialties. All I need do to tap into this pool of knowledge is send an e-mail containing my question, request or need to the IVAAnet listserv and usually within the hour, I will have received several responses.

    Priceless!

    Andrea Cannavina, MVA
    LegalTypist, Inc.
    http://www.legaltypist.com

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  4. Thank you for your comments. All the folks I have talked to have had wonderful things to say about the IVAA. It’s definitely on my radar to join in the very near future.

    SB

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  5. Informative post you have there. I never knew this information about virtual office. Thank you so much. I saw this offers at an have this effect. This website at
    http://www.virtualofficespace.com.sg has quite a few offers. I might take a look.

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  6. Great write-up Scott.

    The IVAA is great for networking and to establish connections with potential clients. In comparison to a regular forum ie; virtualassistant, others within the industry can lend their advice.
    The Virtual Assistant industry for the small to medium office is becoming increasingly popular as more businesses struggle to find the time and money to hire someone required.

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  7. Great Article!! The IVAA provides all the benefits which help to a VA to grow along with their business. You can find more of such information on http://www.outsorcerer.com/blog

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  8. I have to say that IVAA is fantastic! I am apart of a few associations and the IVAA is the best!! the RFP’s are great and there resources are fantastic. I look forward to receiving my certifications when I have some time.

    I highly recommend to all.

    Serena Carcasole
    http://www.vbsondemand.com

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  9. I have been a member of the IVAA and am currently a member of the Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce as well.

    As all the other comments have been on the IVAA, I will concentrate mine on the Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce (VACOC). I have been a member for just under a year and I have to say that it’s just what I was looking for…an organization that sets standards as to what a virtual assistant is and isn’t, one that sets the bar higher for membership standards. The VACOC accepts members with 5+ years of administrative experience, that have to complete a membership process that includes following very specific instructions, and I have to say that the members that make it in are truly the cream of the crop (not that there aren’t awesome VAs out there who aren’t members – they just haven’t joined yet!), and I have gained invaluable insight and mentoring from my fellow members.

    There is also an RFP system built into our membership, which I have personally obtained two clients from directly. Danielle Keister, the founder of the VACOC, is always at the forefront of the industry educating potential clients and virtual assistants alike – her tireless dedication to furthering the profession of true virtual assistants is second to none. I highly suggest that all VAs with a great attention to detail, 5+ years administrative experience, and a zest for furthering the profession and improving their own business apply for membership today!

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  10. I am a member of the Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce (VACOC) led by Danielle Keister, a true pioneer in the VA industry. As a member of the VACOC I have been given the opportunity to connect with other like-minded professionals who offer each other advice, support, and compassion. A place where you feel comfortable sharing both the up’s and down’s of business. We are privy to many valuable resources such as RFP’s, a listing in the VACOC Directory, FREE monthly teleseminars, forums chock-full of practical business information, and much more. Danielle gives 200% to making this organization a success and is a true advocate for VA’s; everything she does is with the good of the virtual assistance industry in mind.

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