One word to describe my second Australian Virtual Assistants Conference (AVAC 2018) – WOW. Not only because it was my second time attending, but also the absolutely amazing speakers that were on stage passing on their knowledge and passion for us to carry into our own businesses. This year it was held on my home turf in Brisbane at Hotel Grand Chancellor in Spring Hill. Two jam packed days of 13 speakers, each experts in their fields as well as the closing out of the conference with a panel of 5 extremely experienced fellow Virtual Assistants. Throw in a healthy dose of camaraderie and humour and it was two days of absolute business heaven for me (aside from the cold I have come down with starting to tighten it’s grip on my head). And I’ll admit, this year I have been shouting far and wide the importance of this event, especially for new VAs coming into the industry – it’s just a goldmine of information and connections that I don’t get anywhere else via social media, nothing beats in person interaction!
Last year, I went in starry eyed and full of wonder at coming into a group of peers that I never knew existed so my outlook on things was a little different this time. Different in a good way – in fact it’s a great point for me to reflect on given the events that have taken place in my personal and business life since last year’s conference. Also, this year I had the absolute privilege to assist the team in sourcing the venue – that part was so much fun because it took me back to my past life in events.
The biggest thing that stuck out for me personally, is rather than going away from this year’s conference with a to-do list a mile long, my head exploding with ideas from each and every speaker; I have a new found appreciation in where I currently am in my business and actually culling back a stack of the things that I had planned on my list and shifting my priorities more into stabilising what I have already created. I guess this partly comes from being in business for a longer period of time but also taking on board what each of the speakers delivered to the group and acknowledging that I can’t be everything to everyone and sticking to my zone of genius. Instead of overwhelming myself with the notion of I “should” be doing this, I’ve come away from the conference with I know I want to be doing this. Given my little baby addled brain has been turning constantly over the last few weeks that’s a huge turning point!
Here’s a brief run down of the speakers and each of their topics and my own personal takeaways.
MC/Keynote – Katrena Friel – Becoming The Expert Program – “How to Become a Strategic Partner Virtually”
It’s definitely an important concept to grasp as it’s a shift in thinking that so many VAs struggle with after coming out of being an employee into being a business owner and service provider. The ideas Katrena presented mirrored everything that I learned in my time as a corporate administration assistant however it’s learning how to translate them into a business environment that is the key and Katrena gave us all some incredible food for thought in this space.
Lauren Clemett – The Ultimate Business Propellor – “Well Known, Well Paid and Wanted!”
Extremely engaging presenter and knowledgeable . Along with her spare brain she had us all thinking about how to engage with our customers on a more meaningful level by looking at what neuroscience can help us to achieve in appealing to their needs and preempting their reactions. More than just solving their pain point – which actually affirmed to me my approach to my clients is quite similar and on the right track.
Janet Camilleri – Front Page Web Writing – “How to Get Found Online”
Janet gave a really practical and insightful presentation on and she focused on the On-site and Off-site SEO components that need to be taken into consideration when writing the copy on your website.
Kathie Thomas – VA Directory – “Succeed with Networking”
I really enjoyed Kathie’s presentation as networking is a skill I have valued from my past roles in corporate life and working virtually makes it very easy to forget the importance of stepping out from behind the screen and making face to face connections within both my business and personal endeavours.
Lyndal Harris – Podcast VA – “Podcasting”
I loved Lyndal’s presentation because I’m a tech nerd and enjoy knowing the nuts and bolts of how to put particular niched services together and Podcasting is definitely an area I haven’t had the chance to play with. Lyndal gave a great overview of what our clients need to consider before launching a podcast and it’s given me a great baseline to give to my future clients when they want to do so (and then refer them on to Lyndal as I have previously done – because it’s way out of my area of expertise).
Kate Norris – Presentation Boss – “The Camera Loves You! How To Use Video To Market Your Business”
You say video, I duck and weave instantly…. But Kate’s presentation gave me the practical and mental tools I need to potentially come out from behind the camera….. one day….. watch this space. Kate showed that being great in front of the camera isn’t such a hard thing to do at all really.
Heather Frame – ProfitEdge – “Building and Managing your Team”
I was particularly interested in Heather’s presentation as this is an area I’m looking towards moving into in the near future as there’s only so many hours in a day and so much I can do as one person. She gave some fantastic points to consider and it has actually resulted in me shuffling my priorities on my to-do-list.
Sally Thibault – “How to Smash Through Self Sabotage”
I particularly enjoyed Sally’s presentation because she spoke about and demonstrated EFT or “tapping” which is something that I have personally worked with my own psychologist (aka Glenn my head ninja) and it’s a concept that I can personally vouch for that makes a huge difference when you put the time into it.
Keynote – Michelle House – “Setting Goals. How to Live the Life of your Dreams With Clear Intentions”
I actually can completely lean into Michelle’s concept of RICH goals other than just SMART goals. Listening to Michelle’s presentation made me realise how much I want to inject my own personality into my business and have it as part of my life not have it running my life.
James Flaherty – Social Beast – “Business and Innovation”
I absolutely LOVED James’s presentation – and it really spoke to me given my time on maternity leave and I’m currently looking at my business strategy and marketing; and what it needs to look like going forward as my service offerings and clients change. And I have to admit his business name along with the cool t-shirt sold me.
Amanda Vanelderen – WorkWords – “Cut The Crap: Smart Writing In The Digital World”
I’ll admit right now, I’ve been cyberstalking and ever so slightly fangirling over Amanda’s work in recent times and her presentation definitely didn’t disappoint. She gave us an on the money (along with a good dose of humour) practical example of writing for VAs in responding to potential job leads and referrals as well as a sales newsletter. Her new book “Write Better How To Cut The Crap And Say What You Mean” is on it’s way and I’ve preordered it as any good stalker should.
Rosie Shilo – Virtually Yours – What Makes for a Stand Out VA
Now I had never heard of this Rosie Shilo character….. bahahaha, yeah who am I kidding! Rosie is my VYVA mamma duck and her presentation proved just why she has built the community she has with Virtually Yours. It’s great having someone like Rosie out there championing our industry in the marketplace and genuinely wanting to see us as business owners believe and earn our worth with our clients.
Derek Rowe – Derek Consulting – “Make Now Count: Life Priority Balance”
Derek’s presentation was another of my top rated presentations from the event – he took the usual prioritisation tools we all know and use and spun them a different way, in multiple formats and having it explained in a new way made me think about it differently too.
Andrea Smith – My Creative Biz – “5 Copyright Myths All VAs Need To Know”
Andrea’s presentation took what is generally a dry legal driven subject and gave us actionable and practical information that will make me rethink when sharing creative and intellectual property via social media and other public channels in the future.
This year’s panel was incredibly interactive with the mix of established and new VAs that were in attendance as well as some questions thrown to the panel from the Facebook Live viewers which was fantastic. It was so good to have these five phenomenal VAs sharing their insights and knowledge to the room and I gained a couple of golden nugget ideas that I hadn’t considered before.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Australian Virtual Assistants Conference is my absolute one non-negotiable for professional development each year and it didn’t disappoint. What was great for me was the mixture of established and relatively new VAs that were in attendance because it really made for an interactive two days with everyone taking different things from each and every speaker. Next year is the 10th Anniversary Conference and is being held in Melbourne (hmmm another trip to Melbourne, oh if I have to!). Time to start putting my funds away for next year!
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.