Research is one of the most popular responsibilities to outsource to a Virtual Assistant. While you might know what topic you’d like researched, it may not be the best use of your time to get your hands dirty searching for the nitty gritty details. You just need those details, and you need them fast. Thus, as with any task or project that doesn’t require you personally, it makes sense for you to hand it over to your Virtual Assistant researcher.
The idea of outsourcing research projects is not new – the following research tasks have been delegated to assistants for decades:
- Professors assign research to their graduate students for books they intend to publish.
- Sales managers ask administrative assistants to list top companies in a particular field as prospects.
- Executives enlist office managers to document pricing and feature comparisons for everything from printers to staples.
Online research has become a part of everyday life, as Google is now the default portal for information gathering (“to Google” is actually used as a verb nowadays.) Take any topic you need further information about for a client or a presentation, or any matter you’d like to pursue for best practices, or any list of what’s-out-there-already to determine your next steps. Delegate the research to your VA, and voilà, you have the info you need!
Tip: As with any task assigned to a Virtual Assistant, it’s often advantageous to work with a VA whose time zone is a sleep-block of time ahead of yours. This way, you can assign the task before you go to sleep, and wake up in the morning to documented, categorized research results waiting in your inbox!
Getting Started Any initial information you know will help kick-start the VA researcher to best hone in on what will ideally help you. The VA researcher will likely ask you the following questions to assess how to best perform research tasks for you:
1. Do you recommend particular resources to get acquainted with the field?
Knowing what’s already out there can give the researcher a feel for the field. The VA can soak in some background and sort through data from these recommended sites, pulling out what’s relevant, and leaving the rest behind.
2. Who are the big players in the field?
Many times research is performed to assess the current state of a field, often comparing the competition. Knowing who the big names are provides solid “go-to” information on the subject matter at hand.
3. Do you have contacts you recommend to be in touch with as guides in the research?
Sometimes, the answers to the above questions will not yield the research results you’re looking for. That’s because (surprise, surprise), in fact, not everything is Google’able. Therefore, it’s often best to speak to people (yes, live) in the field, as those with an insider view can give your VA particular sites to check out, or different resources to read.
Virtual Assistants are aware that research tasks can be sensitive, and sometimes confidential, especially when following up directly with your contacts. The VA will work alongside you on whom and how to approach on a personal basis.
4. How many hours would you like dedicated to this research?
Based on the above answers, the time allotment helps determine the level of research breadth desired. And you can take it in stages, allotting a few hours each time and then decide your trajectories each step of the way.
So go ahead – do a “brain dump” and delegate all those research projects out to your Virtual Assistant. You’ll be freed up to get higher-level work done while the research is being performed, and you’ll be armed with better information once you receive the results, making your next moves all the more productive. Not to mention, Virtual Assistants often love research projects since it’s a way to delve into a new body of knowledge – a surefire “win-win” all around.
Submitted by Chaya Leah