As I started writing this post I was sitting on a flight having just left Melbourne and on my way home back to Brisbane after having the most enlightening, fulfilling and amazing two days attending Australian Virtual Assistant’s Association Conference 2017. I probably should let things sit for a few days but in all honesty my tired and full little head (and heart) are just bursting to explain how much I loved and enjoyed every single minute of it.
It was my first real trip away from my little boy and hubby (who I called and Skyped more times than I probably should have over the 3 nights) so to say I was nervous is an understatement. Thursday afternoon I made my way to Melbourne (having only ever been once before with hubby pre baby) and navigated my way from the airport via Skybus then tram to the hotel near Albert Park. Easy enough (yay!) and checked in to my room then squirrelled away two hours of work for my clients before locking down for the next two days. It was at 6pm I thought I should probably head down to the bar/restaurant to grab a bite to eat, so down I went. There was a group in the bar when I arrived and being in new surroundings I made my way to the bar to be served when I recognised one of the group and thought oh that’s the committee for the conference – swallowed my sheer terror and nerves and went up and introduced myself to the person I recognised – which was the AVAA President Anita Kilkenny and I was immediately relieved when she gave me the warmest welcome and invited me to join the rest of the group, to who I was quickly introduced around to everyone. Now, for me, that was my moment of realisation that I had made the best decision in my business life in coming to this event. Being a Virtual Assistant (which I have to add, I didn’t even know or had heard of this term until AFTER I had started my business) you become very used to feeling like you’re on your own doing your thing and the other VAs out there are out in the digital world and in their own spaces too. Then being welcomed into this group of ladies who have been on the same path as you (for much longer than you) makes you feel not so alone and part of a big family. Long story short, dinner followed, many drinks consumed and many many laughs shared and we all headed off to bed to try and get some sleep and recharge for the huge two days that laid ahead.
One word – PHENOMENAL. Eight completely engaging, personable and completely and utterly relevant speakers back to back all day, intertwined with the absolute professionalism of the MC Rob Salisbury (http://www.strategicresources.com.au) who is by and far the most engaging and passionate MC I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness.
Lisa Jenkins – http://www.lisajenkins.com.au – a really clear and practical overview of the key qualities that successful people master in order to achieve their goals and move forward in their lives.
Jenny De Lacy – http://www.facebook.com/jennythevisibilitycoach – Facebook, one of my biggest timewasters and Video, my biggest fear in my business. So you could say my favourite and least favourite things mushed together in one presentation. But Jenny gave a really great insight into leveraging video for our business specifically as VAs as well as giving great tips for how it can work for our clients.
Bernadette Schwerdt – http://www.bernadetteschwerdt.com.au – writing copy that gets results is something that I need to use in my own business as well as without realising it, for my clients as well and Bernadette gave a really practical and straightforward approach for me to use in structuring great copy. I personally enjoy practical as I can put what I learn straight into use for my own needs.
Tracy Fowler – http://www.bdmcreditmanagement.com.au – Tracy spoke about Debt Collection Tips and Tricks. It’s a subject area that we would like to think won’t happen to us in business but unfortunately sometimes it does. Tracy gave a fabulous snapshot of the steps we should take as business owners to protect ourselves by taking the right steps when you first sign up a client. Really informative and insightful presentation.
Gordon Jenkins – http://www.thevisibleguy.com – Be Seen #BeVisible, Network with Purpose was Gordon’s key message and he gave great feedback about how you not necessarily network everywhere and wear yourself out but be truly strategic with your networking and target audiences where you genuinely will be seen by your target clients. Great message for the current environment where you feel like you have to be absolutely everywhere to be seen.
Kylie Travers – http://www.kylietravers.com.au/ – No. Words. I’ve already gushed her praises all over my social media accounts (sorry if I seem like a crazy stalker) but I’m going to do it again. Seriously, how Kylie has turned her absolutely heartbreaking life events into opportunities for herself and her girls as well as having the ability to tell her story over and over again is completely beyond me. Listening to her gives you a giant slap in the face of gratitude and awe that despite the downs of your life that there’s always a way out if you’re determined to change the path your life is on. Not to mention just her presence lights up the room.
Serena Ryan – http://www.serenadotryan.com.au – Another practical presentation that I’m starting to work through my action list that came out of the session. Serena spoke about understanding the channels the are best suited to certain businesses and their target markets and the number of contact points that occur between potential clients before closing a sale with them.
Sue Lester – http://www.growingcontent.com.au – Sue’s presentation headline Ditch the Bitch: Turn Self-Sabotage into Self-Motivation was a pretty big red flag for me, I’m definitely one of those people that has always had that inner dialogue that’s been programmed along the way that turns you into the worst version of yourself. Fortunately I’m much better at recognising it these days (after a number of years working with my fabulous head ninja Glenn) but it was a very interesting presentation to see the same dialogue played out in front of me.
When I thought Day 1 couldn’t possibly be topped, I was wrong, day 2 bought with it another eight high energy, engaging and extremely thought provoking speakers who drove home messages and takeaway actions for me and my business that will make the delivery of my services so much better for me and my clients.
Kerryn Gamble – http://www.kerryngamble.com – what a great presentation to lead off Day 2, giving practical guidance in how our language shapes the way other perceive us and how to communicate the value we bring as part of our business rather than just placing a dollar amount on the services we provide. And thank you very much to Kerryn as I actually won a copy of her book “Unstoppable – The professional woman’s guide to purpose, power and prosperity” and I am really looking forward to reading it.
Renee Hasseldine – http://www.shareyourpassion.com.au/ – Renee was one of my favourite presenters with her energy and her message and her absolute love for her VA (it was fantastic having presenters who use the services of Virtual Assistants in their own businesses and get it). Her message Leverage, Leverage, Leverage is one that every business person needs to look at within their business. She succinctly ran through the building blocks you need to put in place within your business to allow yourself to build the ability to leverage your time and resources to make your life look more like the way you want it to.
Lisa Win – http://www.wintrademarks.com.au – this was another topic that you could spend a long time explaining and going down all of the legal steps to and that is Trademarks. Lisa was able to give clarity to a subject that I personally had never fully considered for myself but I will definitely be looking into it now as it gives another level of protection for your business that is extremely important in these times of intellectual property and business image.
Suzanne Chadwick – http://www.theconnectionexchange.com/ – It was during Suzanne’s presentation that I was pulled completely out of my comfort zone and called up to the front of the group to discuss my pain points within my business – gotta love a public business coaching session on steroids! (For the record, inside I was curled up in the foetal position hyperventilating into a paper bag!) Suzanne gave some great guiding principles in playing bigger and branding bolder in our businesses.
Peter Johnson – http://www.peterjohnsonauthorspeaker.com/ – Peter’s headline message of “A to Do List Is A Waste of Time” at first glance for someone who lives by their to-do-lists goes completely against what I work with. But delving into the content Peter made a completely valid point, a to-do-list is only a small part of the equation, you need to truly master the underlying skills that you need to make sure you can make it through your to-do-lists. He gave some truly practical and achievable key actions that I can take to help with bringing my days under control and I look forward to implementing them.
Jo Saunders – http://www.wildfiresocialmarketing.com/ – Demystifying LinkedIn to Grow Your VA Business – I’ve had a LinkedIn profile for a long time, but I’ll admit, it’s always been a bit of a mystery for me, and having Jo give us the run down was definitely an eye opener. Like any platform the constant updates do your head in but she gave some really wonderful tips and tricks in maximising the engagement and leveraging the content you place on LinkedIn. And it was really awesome to hear that she herself started as a VA before she moved herself into the social media marketing space.
Katrena Friel – http://www.katrena.com.au/ – Katrena wins my vote for the most engaging and hilarious presentation of the conference. I’d love just a small jar of her energy for myself – her energy and passion is so infectious. She went through ten key areas that are required to be successful in business and had everyone rank what were their strengths and what were their weaknesses which were the areas that are currently holding me back. Such a serious conversation intertwined with laughs and honest definitions of what each of the areas meant to our business.
I want to express my absolute gratitude to the fabulous AVAA Committee (who seriously are the Dream Team) who were the ones who put the event together and made it run so beautifully:
Anita Kilkenny – The Holistic VA – http://theholisticva.com.au/
Sandra O’Connor – PAvirtual – http://www.pavirtual.com.au/
Kylie Short – Magnify Up – http://magnifyup.com.au/
Lyndal Harris – Podcast VA – http://www.podcastva.com/
Ingrid Bayer – V-biz – http://v-biz.com.au/
Monika Newman – Absolutely Virtual – http://www.absolutelyvirtual.com.au/
And the fabulous sponsors:
Virtually Yours – Rosie Shilo – http://www.virtuallyyours.com.au
VA Institute – Ingrid Bayer – https://www.vainstitute.com.au/
Insurance Made Easy – http://imeinsurance.com.au/
A Clayton’s Secretary – Kathie Thomas – http://aclaytonssecretary.com/
And then there’s the even more exciting news – next year AVAC is coming to Brisbane! I’m so looking forward to attending again and having the chance to reconnect with all of the phenomenal souls I had the pleasure of meeting this year and meeting many more. I of course will keep in touch with everyone virtually between now and then but nothing beats that in person face-to-face interaction!
If you’re looking to leave the “corporate” world to work for yourself as a Virtual Assistant I highly highly highly recommend joining the Australian Virtual Assistant’s Association (http://www.avaa.asn.au) and attending next year’s conference being held in Brisbane (http://www.australianvaconference.com.au/). Being amongst so many fellow virtual assistants was so inspiring and the connections I have made will be ones that I will keep with me for a long time.
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 to small businesses and solopreneurs. 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.
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