My client, Miles, knows where I’m located and is thrilled to be working with me for all sorts of reasons. The fact that I’m in Israel offers him a number of advantages, including being able to meet me in person when he comes to Israel on personal and business visits. Plus since he’s on the East Coast, we use the time zone difference to our advantage; I work while he is asleep and he wakes up in his morning and his inbox is clear and my work is done. His clients, however, perceive Miles as running a large well-staffed company, and he prefers not to advertise the fact that I am working virtually from Israel.
One of Miles’ clients, Greg, with whom I speak at least once monthly, has never indicated that he is aware that I live anywhere but New York. Understandably, it’s an easy thing to hide on an isolated phone call. After all, Greg’s caller ID pegs my phone call as coming from Long Island. I speak English with a Midwestern accent, since I grew up in Wisconsin, so that’s hardly an indication of my being located just outside Jerusalem. But how do I keep this up on an extended basis, which in this case has been for the past two years? Admittedly, it does take some awareness and creativity.
I keep up to date on big news items and the weather and don’t risk issues I know little about, such as the sports headlines. When New York was suffering under horrific amounts of snow last winter, I made sure to ask Greg how he was handling the storm, and if he’d like us to post any alerts on his websites, etc.
Perhaps equally important to Miles is avoiding the time zone confusion that could potentially arise from our international divide. For this reason, I’m very careful to always mention the day of the week when I say “today” or “tomorrow”, as well as always referring to and documenting times in his time zone. I have dependable daily hours available for telephone conversations during business hours EST, and when I’m not available, my voice mail picks up with a cheerful message in my Midwestern accent. I’m on top of getting back to both Miles and his clients during their work hours.
There are also a number of programs out there, waiting at the ready to help an international Virtual Assistant such as myself. I often send delayed emails and schedule delayed blog posts and tweets to cover the time difference, weekend differences and national holidays… and my clients’ contacts never have to be the wiser for my efforts.
Submission by Aviela