Learning, Connection, Networking and Milestones
I’ve just returned from a huge weekend in Melbourne (both being busy and the fact that I’d spent three days and two nights away from my hubby and babies on my own – bliss!). But why you ask – well, somehow (I don’t know how) it was AVAC time again (again, how on earth has a year flown by already). The Australian Virtual Assistants Conference is my one non-negotiable event each year, my one chance to unshackle myself from my office desk, peel myself out of my pyjamas (jokes, I don’t wear my PJs working, as much as I would love to) and spend two days absorbing knowledge, taking in speakers in varying expert fields and network face to face with my industry colleagues, either those I’ve met previously in person or online or brand new!
To say I wasn’t excited this year is a big fat lie because when I heard Suzanne Chadwick was MC, I knew it was going to be a fab 2 days (seriously, if you don’t know Suz, she’s owner of The Connection Exchange and she has a fabulous podcast called the Brand Builders Lab Podcast – one of my favourite business-related podcasts). This year was the 10th anniversary of the conference which was a celebration in itself and a great celebration of the industry that is continuing to grow and develop – well done to the committee for bringing together another great industry event.
Day One kicked off with they Keynote – Sales CAN be easy … tips on being you and winning with clients with the (ever so slightly crazy) Frances Pratt from Kiss to Sell. Even though Frances is self-proclaimed crazy (which I don’t think so at all) she gave some fantastic tips and guidance in how to not be Bob the sleazy car salesman (no Bob, just no) and be able to approach sales with ease. The two full pages of notes in my notepad proved how much I gained from Frances – particularly the language we use – it’s a proposal, not a quote.
The second speaker of the conference was Georgie Mahmoud and she talked about Decoding Your Cravings which she explores in her work in Mindful Eating and Transformational Coaching. It was interesting hearing about how different food types can be correlated with different moods and energy and actually had me thinking how much less I have cravings these days.
The third speaker was Chief Geek Merrin Munroe from The Small Business Geeks and the topic of her session was “Think smarter not harder – tips for better technology in 2019” and of course, Merrin most definitely spoke-a-my-a-language! I love me a good app so it was great hearing and seeing Merrin’s insights and suggestions for some of the technology that is out there. Anything that helps you work smarter not harder is a big yes!
The fourth session was titled “Money Flow Tapping – How EFT helps with your emotions around money” with Fay Chang. I didn’t sit in on this session but you can find out more about Faye and her work via her Business website Budgeting 123.
The fifth session presented by Kylie Chown provided content that anyone who uses LinkedIn needs to follow. The topic she presented “How Virtual Assistants can use LinkedIn to Grow Their Business” was very well customised for the Virtual Assistants in the room but the strategy she provided is relevant for anyone in any industry. I’m working my way through my notes and checklist again now I’m back and there are so many tweaks to be made on my profile!
Following afternoon tea came the session titled “Mind Mapping for Business and for Every Day” presented by Pamela Griffiths which was rather timely as only last week a friend of mine actually told me I need to mind map my brain at the moment because I’ve been all over the place. I’ll be honest, I actually had to ask what is a mind map (yep) because I’m a huge list person but I’ve never done a mind map. Well, Pamela gave me a great rundown on how to do it – and yesterday I went out and got myself an A3 sketchbook so I can get started.
Last (but definitely not the least) speaker of the day was Les Watson from Get More Time and oh the irony that his presentation was titled “Get Back an Hour in Every Day” because the day had absolutely flown by. Little did I realise how much genuine gold and aha moments Les the “Time Lord” was about to deliver. And funnily enough most of the aha’s weren’t specifically time-related. Not only did Les get a high score from me in his use of props to get his point across (the former office manager in me had a slight heart attack when he climbed on a folding chair) but his delivery was absolutely spot on. (And for whatever reason all of the photos I got of Les were not that fantastic so I won’t torture him with bad photos here ha!)
As I had expected day one was a massive day for me so I took the opportunity to wander over to a local bar with a number of fellow VAs and have a quiet (?) drink to cap off the end of the day. My head was brimming with all of the content and networking for the day so a good nights sleep was on the cards.
If I thought Day One was big, then Day Two pretty much said: “hold my beer”.
The day was kicked off by fellow VA (and all round lovely person) Sam McFarlane from SamSays with her Keynote about Social Media Marketing. When it comes to social media, I send anyone who needs social media help Sam’s say because she honestly knows her stuff. It’s amazing how much you can come up with when posed with the question “what should I post?” and Sam’s advice: Teach / Share / Show. So many content pillars come out of those three simple words.
Second presenter of the day was another fabulous VA who I absolutely look to in the industry, Ingrid Bayer from VA Institute and she spoke of going “From Ordinary to Excellence” in your working day and within the industry. Which is absolutely incredibly important because by promoting excellence yourself you bring more to the table and those working in the industry will strive to achieve the same. And Ingrid walks her talk in our industry it was great hearing her speak so passionately about this topic.
After morning tea came “Extracting the viable marketing lessons from Viral success stories” presented by Jonathan Creek. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to expect of the topic when I saw it on the program. But it was by and far the presentation of the weekend for me – Jonathan is such a personable speaker and he delivered the content such a fantastic way I am almost going to get myself into producing video for myself (almost…. Give me a few days to get back on top of my clients workload ha!). Who would have thought studying viral videos could bring so much data into perfecting online videos for business. I’ll even give his new TedX fame a plug too – if you want to see Jonathan in action you can see his TedX talk here.
The fourth presenter of the day, Paula O’Sullivan from Possum Digital gave a great practical how-to in Facebook Advertising (I’ll be honest, I’ve never gone into the Facebook Advertising vortex as yet). My biggest takeaway from Paula was her simple Facebook Funnel – when I think of funnels I think of long complicated funnels and emails – but Paula’s take on it made it very achievable for me. So watch this space if I randomly start popping up in your Facebook feed – hehe.
In what was a great follow on from the previous speakers The Content Coach Jo Johnson gave us insight into the power of storytelling and how you can use it in delivering a great pitch. Jo gave some fantastic do’s and dont’s of pitching and some great structure points in how to write and deliver a pitch – much more engaging that just blurting out “I do admin!”
It was apparent that the best was saved until last – “The 7 Critical Elements of Personal Branding” presented by Fi Mims and the content Fi presented most definitely gave me tips on how to take your brand from invisible to inspirational. Fi not only gave us the theory but also showed how headshots are more than just a photo – they really do have the power to elevate your business (and you) to a whole new level when approached with thought and serious consideration.
The last session of the day was a Q&A Session with Industry Leaders where everyone split into four groups and each group had a long term experienced VA to ask questions of and gain insights based on the questions they’ve gathered over the conference. Unfortunately, I had to depart part way through to make it to the airport for my flight that was rescheduled to earlier (hmph – but I won’t complain because I was bounced to a Virgin flight that had wifi – oooh fancy!).
Coming back from this conference I always take it as a chance to reflect on my business, my knowledge and skills gaps, the phenomenal opportunity for networking with my colleagues – those I know and those I meet for the first time, and really appreciate how lucky I am to have opportunities to do so and connect with so many inspiring people. Working virtually has the potential to make you feel distant from the world but attending face to face events and conferences like this are the shot in the arm you need in gaining connection and reconnecting with your purpose in your business. They’re so much more than just being a tax deduction for your business – it’s the opportunity to learn, connect and grow.
Korryn Haines is an administration ninja with over 10 years of administrative experience in a wide range of industries. Based in Brisbane and founder of Encore Admin Consulting, she provides virtual assistant services and administration process consulting services to micro and small businesses. She loves a nice big pot of tea, smashing out a BodyPump class and spending time with her young children, husband and lovable Cocker Spaniel. Connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.