Baking to Brainstorm

September 2, 2008

Wow! One blast of slightly cooler temperatures (44 overnight) and I’m thinking Autumn. Autumn means time to bake for me over and above my normal affinity for baking. While it has nothing to do with hands-on virtual assistance, I like to brainstorm while baking. I take the time to get away from the computer and think about how to better assist a client, consider new products, visualize new graphics, mentally revamp my website and on and on. I guess beating up cookie dough or cheesecake filling (no hand mixers for me!) can inspire thoughts almost as prolifically as a great book. Even though I’ve got a ton of work to do today, I cannot stop thinking about sticking something in the oven so I’m going to break away to throw together a loaf of peanut butter bread. It is a quick and easy recipe that I’ll share with you.  I can’t wait to slather a warm slice with blackberry jam.

PEANUT BUTTER BREAD Courtesy of Paula Deen

2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cup milk
½ cup peanut butter (any style)

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine all dry ingredients. Add milk and peanut butter. Pour into greased 8x4x3 loaf pan. Bake approximately 50 minutes. Serve with your favorite jam or jelly.

ENJOY!

Virtual assistants help their clients with many aspects of business. One of the services I offer to my clients is helping them get their businesses up and running. With many, many facets to be addressed, I help them make choices that are the right fit for them and their clients – such as a client-friendly toll-free telephone number.

Here are a number of resources to look into if you are interested in obtaining your own toll-free telephone number.

I encourage you to visit these options to see which best fits your needs. (As in my past posts, these are in no particular order.)

www. ringcentral.com

http://www.AITech.com

http://www.ureach.com

http://www.kall8.com

http://www.accessline.biz

http://www.onebox.com

http://www.tollfreelive.com

http://www.smart800now.com

http://www.freedomvoice.com

Let me know if you have any questions or feedback on these vendors or their services.

Best to you,

Jan Clark

Never Stop Learning

March 12, 2008

I have a motto to never stop learning. In the virtual business world, we are continuously in the forefront of new technology, products, and services. I love the fact that online training is available sometimes at low to no cost. Luckily, I am affiliated with some great groups of like-minded business professionals who strive to gain knowledge.

I am curious to learn what types of training, products, and services you have recently found and your feedback on such. Whether you are a virtual assistant or not, would you be willing to share this information with me and the world? Have you recently taken a fabulous course, found a collaboration tool, or a new product that works and cannot imagine what you did before you had this tool in your repertoire?

Looking forward to your comments and feedback!

Best to you!
Jan
EVA – Electronic Virtual Assistant

Email Subject Line

March 3, 2008

Use a subject on every email you send. By using a subject line that pertains to the email content, recipients will be better able to determine which emails to read first.

This is important: when you change the email content or add a topic, adjust the subject line to reflect the new changes. For example, if your original email contained information regarding a new real estate listing and you responded but added a question about the time line on updating a calendar, modify the subject line thusly – Original subject line “New listing 123 Main”; Adjusted subject line “New listing – calendar update ?”. At a glance, the recipient can ascertain new information is included.

As a virtual professional assistant, the preferred method of communication by most of my clients is email. Utilizing the change subject line technique takes only moments to complete while making certain all parties are alerted to any changes.

Best to you,
Jan

RESOURCES: fax via email

February 11, 2008

As a virtual assistant, often times I am asked to provide options for different aspects of business. Through my various affiliations, I learn about different sources for a multitude of business requirements.

Latest case in point, the need for faxes be sent and received without a fax machine. Faxes are sent and received via your email account eliminating the need for a fax machine and its associated expenses (extra telephone line, ink cartridges, paper, etc.). Complete faxing solutions are available for individuals, small businesses and even large businesses. Prices range from free to pay per use or pay per month. Many accommodate an array of files types i.e. .doc, .pdf, .csv, .bmp, .gif, .tif, .html.

Although, I personally haven’t tried them all, one or more colleagues and/or their clients have used the services below for their faxing needs. I encourage you to visit these options to see which best fits your needs. (They are in no particular order.)

Let me know if you have any questions or feedback on these products.

Best to you,

Jan Clark, EVA

Email Basics

January 30, 2008

Here are a few tips on sending emails.

  • Always use the subject line relevant to the topic when sending an email. If the topic changes as you correspond back and forth, edit the Subject line accordingly.
  • Do not use all upper case letters when writing an email. It is the equivalent of shouting.
  • Refrain from using sarcasm and in some cases, humor, as they can be easily misinterpreted.
  • Don’t use abbreviations or acronyms unless you are certain the recipient knows the meaning. (Unfortunately, I used IMHO which caused the recipient to ponder a series of possible meanings before actually asking what it meant! IMHO = in my humble opinion.)
  • It is best to request permission from the recipient before sending email with large attachments or numerous large emails. The capacity limits of some inboxes can reach the maximum in the blink of an eye. Believe it – not everyone has high-speed internet, even today. It’s still unavailable in some rural areas (although there are a few excruciatingly high cost alternatives).
  • IMPORTANT: When forwarding an email, take a moment to delete the previous addressees. The only exception is when you want your recipient(s) to see the thread associated with email for informational purposes.keyboard
  • IMPORTANT: Use the blind carbon copy (BCC) when sending email to multiple people. It is considered impolite to list everyone in the TO: field. Additionally, you should consider the issue of privacy. As a rule of thumb, use the BCC field unless there is a specific reason (project management, etc.) others need to know who you are addressing.
  • People expect a quicker response with email messaging. Be sure to check your email regularly. Use an auto-respond message if you will not be checking email for several days (while on vacation, etc).
  • Spell check an email before you hit the send button.
  • Avoid discussing sensitive or confidential information.
  • Be professional and concise with your content.
  • If your message is lengthy, break it into paragraphs or even better, separate emails.

These are the tips at the forefront of my mind at this moment. I hope you find them to be useful.

Jan ~EVA~ Electronic Virtual Assistant

Finishing up this quick series of posts, here is part 3 of 3 to get you moving in the right direction for 2008! Again, this is geared toward my clients in real estate.

Ideas for your Blog / Newsletter:

– Buying real estate in your town
– How the closing process works (local / state laws)
– Anything newsworthy in your area (fires, road construction, crime reports, job markets, etc.)
– Remodeling ideas to instantly increase the value of your home
– Average energy prices for your subdivision / farm area / local market
– What life is like in local area
– Dos and don’ts of buying investment properties
– Should you rent out a property or flip it?

Looking for ideas to promote your business type in blogs or newsletters? Feel free to contact me and we can work on suggestion that fit for you!

Best of luck and wishing you a prosperous 2008!
Jan
EVA – Electronic Virtual Assistant
http://www.eva-colo.com
“Administrative support only when you need it!”