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The Difference Between a Tech Expert and an Expert Virtual Assistant


Mike Schertenlieb

Imagine hiring a firm or freelancer – only to find out they don’t actually have the skills you need…

Or discovering that their expertise is above and beyond in some areas, and totally lacking in others…

When you’re looking for outsourced help for your business, it’s critical to understand what role you need to fill. Not all hired help will have the same sets of skills, and planning accordingly will save a TON of headaches in the long run.

Some services charge top dollar for specific, esoteric skills. Others cover a wider range of disciplines, but with very little depth. Still others rest somewhere between those extremes.

So, let’s wander into the weeds a little bit… We’re looking at some key differences that exist in outsourced services, specifically for “tech experts” and “expert virtual assistants.” This topic hits close to home for us because, well, for all of the “techy” things we can do – if you need a true expert, we’re not the right fit.

It’s better to get this kind of stuff out in the open to avoid confusion, and ensure that the clients we work with get the most out of their investment.

What to Expect From an Expert Virtual Assistant

Through experience working with multiple clients, typically across different industries, varying communication styles, and a whole smorgasbord of different tasks – we know how to organize and rely on our agility to deliver the results a client wants.

We’re great schedulers, social media posters, blog writers, and process builders. We’re capable of learning a business, embedding ourselves in the systems, and providing awesome customer support. We’re stellar researchers and document creators. We do graphics and website updates. We schedule meetings and appointments and help arrange travel plans…

We do ALL KINDS OF STUFF, provided it can be done from a computer or phone (though we do some physical mailing, order fulfillment, hand-written cards, and envelope stuffing too…).

When it boils down, we’re learners. We’re agile assistants that, with a little bit of guidance and time to get up to speed, can help with a huge array of business needs.

What to Expect From a Tech Expert

Expertise in a tech field is no small undertaking. It takes years of skill-development and study, and nearly constant upkeep because of the astronomical rate of change in technology. This often means a highly specialized ability with a relatively narrow scope.

Web development requires a highly technical set of skills – so does server administration, software development, custom programming, and so on. You might even find someone versed in all of them, but they will likely have a single area of “greatest expertise.”

When this is the skill you need, then hiring an expert is the only way to go. They effectively hold the keys to the kingdom. They will be familiar with industry standards and best practices, have the necessary tools, and know the pitfalls that we laymen might not be able to recognize.

Tech experts can give accurate assessments about timelines, viability of custom requests, and tremendous amounts of guidance on things most of us just don’t understand. Even if it’s slightly outside of their primary field, most tech experts have a working knowledge of hardware, software, the web, and how they all work together.

You can also typically expect tech “experts” to have years of experience, official certifications/degrees, and a robust portfolio of work.

What NOT to Expect From an Expert Virtual Assistant

We’re experts at being virtual assistants, but that doesn’t necessarily make us experts in YOUR field. We’ll learn your business and do everything in our power to help, but we’re not marketers or developers, nor are we business consultants or analysts. We’re here to help – to take tasks off your plate and help you get more time out of your day…

We’re not here to tell you what to do.

What NOT to Expect From a Tech Expert

A tech expert has a specific set of skills, and chances are, they aren’t going to stray too far outside of them. They might set up your custom email server, but they aren’t going to be your receptionist.

Now, going a step further (and not to stereotype), the typical tech expert might NOT be well versed in customer service, in travel planning, in changing hats to jump from task to task or client to client… It just isn’t the usual personality type.

Plenty of exceptions exist, of course, but a career tech expert has likely invested so much time and energy into their particular skill set, they’re not going to bother with peripheral tasks outside of their expertise.

…And you shouldn’t expect them to.

What VAs and Tech Experts Have In Common

Both virtual assistants and tech experts are going to be savvy using the internet, answering their own questions (within reason), and communicating digitally.

Both are available for hire through agencies or as individuals. Both should have a good “bedside manner” and be able to ask the appropriate questions. Both should be self-motivated and deadline oriented.

Most importantly, the person you reach out to should be able to define – with certainty – what kind of services they can provide, as well as what they aren’t willing/able to do.

It all boils down to knowing what you want, and choosing the right person or team for the job. Hopefully this clears up some confusion about what a VA service is really for, and provides some insight on when to hire a true tech expert. They are NOT one in the same, and if you assume they are… You’re probably in for some disappointment!

Make the right choice for your business needs.

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