As an executive assistant, starting with a new client is exciting!
It’s also a time of finding your way – every client is different and you must figure out what makes your new client tick. Do they like to communicate a lot or a little? Do they have very particular processes or not? When is their best “work time?”
Executive assistants who put time and thought into the initial period with a new client tend to be the most successful. What should you work on when you start with a new client? Here are some of our tips:
What to do before you start…
One of the most important steps before starting with a new client is to set up a launch call. The purpose is to set expectations and learn more about their key priorities and goals.
To get the most from this meeting, go into it with a planned agenda. One trap people often fall into is thinking that they’ll remember to ask things – trust us, you need notes! An agenda helps to ensure that nothing important is missed during your launch call.
Following the call, you can create an action plan – this may or may not be something you want to share with the client to clarify their needs. Your action plan should encompass what you talked about on the call, list your action items, and any key priorities.
Tips for Day 1 with a new client
As a virtual executive assistant, the first thing you’ll want to do is have a call with your new client. From what you learned on your launch call, you’ll want to solidify the key goals of your engagement with the client, including short, medium and long-term goals.
Clarify what you understood on the first call and ask whether anything has changed about the client’s goals. Also ask about any stakeholders you need to know about.
That first day should also be about gaining access to everything you need. In addition to usernames, passwords, email, and calendars, you’ll also need to know who to talk to or where to go if you have any system issues.
Develop a cadence for check-ins with the client; schedule them from that first day. This helps to give you the best chance of developing a successful rhythm quickly. Ask about their communication style, but remember that, at least at first, over-communication can be a good way to learn about the client and ensure nothing gets missed. Your client should hear from you more often than you hear from them.
Day one should also be about all those important factors for building rapport with a new client. Be on time, be accurate, and triple-check all of your deliverables. As for attire, keep it business casual and take their lead on dress code. (We know it’s sometimes a big question when working remotely!)Executive assistants: communicate early and often with your new clients! Click To Tweet
Tips for Week 1 with a new client
Most of week one will be spent as a learning curve. It’s important to have some kind of wrap-up or debrief with your client. You can also set up for next week – “here’s what we walked through, what we talked about, our hours and priorities for next week…”
It’s also a good time to re-evaluate the action plan. Ask the client, “does this make sense or should something change?” You may understand more about how long things might take and what is involved with doing them, so you may also want to set realistic expectations for timelines.
Throughout the week, determine what the client’s preferred communication channels are and have them set up and integrated as far as possible. Look for any gaps where you might be able to initiate a smoother process.
Tips for Month 1 with a new client
After your first month with a new client, you should be finding a pretty good rhythm that works for you both. It’s still important to sit down and re-evaluate the action plan together – does it still make sense, or does something need to change?
If the client is new to having an executive assistant, they often don’t realize the extent of tasks they can delegate. You may discover things you could be helping with that weren’t initially given to you (and clients are usually delighted to move tasks off their plate).
This is also a good time to evaluate communication and find whether there are any opportunities lying in communication gaps. For example, have you had enough context to do tasks as they should be done? Are you and the client able to communicate in a timely manner when it is needed? Does everyone who needs to know things get the right information?
If you’ve made mistakes over the first month (it happens!), now might also be a good time to discuss them. Importantly, it’s about finding the right systems and processes so that they don’t happen again. Always own your mistakes and come at them from the perspective of being proactive to avoid them happening again.
Is there one bottom-line piece of advice for executive assistants who are starting with a new client? We’d say it’s pretty simple – communicate.
There’s often a temptation to think you’re meant to just “get it” from Day 1 because EAs work at such a high level. That’s really not the case though – you should always communicate the most during that early period to make sure you really understand the client.
Make a plan to start out well and you’ll reap the benefits of a strong EA-client partnership. All the best with your new client!
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