Why hello there! Yes, it has been long time no blog. And if I’m completely honest, I’ve been a bit late off the starting line in getting this particular blog started too. Why? Well, I’m only now coming out of the introvert peopling hangover that I predicted I would have after attending the Virtually Yours Conference. Not saying it is a bad thing or meaning it in a bad way. Just that I knew, especially given the last 12 months of relative no in person events I knew that coming out of my family / home / little office that can bubble to spend two full days in a room with actual human beings (and phenomenal ones at that) was going to take a whole lot of energy out of me – let alone the fact that I was actually speaking at the event too! (More on that later)
So enough of my bumbling – let’s dig in to the reason I’m showing up in writing today – my personal recap of the FIRST EVER Virtually Yours Conference 2021 – held, you guessed it, virtually (not out of choice though, damn you C word that shall not be named because you’ve had enough air time this year). But thankfully in order to try and get some of the in person element happening (because let’s be honest, this little black duck is all Zoomed out after the last 12 months) there was a merry band of VAs based in South East Queensland who saw my slight insanity of booking a meeting room in the city for the two days and came joined me (thank you Rosie for allowing my desperate need for in person adventuring).
If you’ve read my previous blogs you will know that I’m not shy of of getting in amongst conferences, especially when they are in my same industry and bring together inspiring and relatable speakers that I will either learn something new from or give me some inspiration to move forward with my own business ideas or ways to help my clients.
What really won me over with the first ever Virtually Yours Conference was that the speakers were predominantly Australian based VAs and all of the topics were geared towards Australian VAs (the only exceptions being the wonderful Kate Toon but I’ll give her a vote for being an honorary VA because she very vocally champions our industry as well as her insanely wonderful OBM Leanne Woff at every possible opportunity).
Now even though all the speakers were VAs (myself included) and the conference was shifted to virtual format a month or two ago – the whole conference was being run live through a new platform that was both extremely fantastic yet had its moments of not playing the game – it proved to throw some curveballs. Tech hiccups are always fraught with danger in keeping the energy and engagement levels up. It was safe to say there was no worries about that with Rosie Shilo (founder of Virtually Yours) and Kate Toon (MC Host with the most and Founder of Stay Tooned) guiding proceedings across both days and both jumping in with their unwavering determination to keep things afloat with their humour along with finding ways to share their years of experience in working in the online space with attendees when needing to fill the unscheduled gaps.
Surviving the VA Client Dating Game with Kate Toon
I’ve heard the client relationship being likened to the dating game before but Kate absolutely laid everything out on the table with her presentation and I will never look at a group photo of ‘The Bachelor’ the same ever again. Kate’s brilliance in her delivery, quick wit and relatability made for plenty of laughs and plenty of notes.
Key Takeaway: Follow your gut and work with the clients that fit right for you – and don’t be afraid to communicate when things are needing to change.
Time Management and Planning with Carly Reading
I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with Carly as she’s based here in Brisbane and I knew she was an organisational rockstar but after her presentation I think she needs to be elevated to guru status. Like me, she advocates for using the right tools that suit the way you work best – whether they are tech or paper based. Carly ran through her key time management and planning hacks that seriously had me realising I need to tighten up the reigns! Carly has also created It’s A Scheduled Life planner which is so well thought out that you’d be crazy not to get yourself a copy.
Key Takeaway: Valuing my clients over my own business tasks is devaluing my own value – time blocking for my own business tasks needs to move up the priority list!
Should I Niche My Services? with Lyndal Harris
Lyndal Harris from Podcast VA is nicheing goals – so her presentation gave plenty of food for thought and direction when it comes to nicheing. I have been trying to better define my own niche for the last 12 months and Lyndal gave some great insights into directions I can contemplate for nicheing.
Key Takeaway: It feels big but start with what lights you up – you didn’t get into business to be doing the things that you don’t want to be doing.
Who’s Who in the Zoo with Rosie Shilo (Networking)
This segment was almost my fave of the whole weekend because Rosie pulled up a number of the attendees onto the virtual stage and asked them about themselves and their businesses and it was so good to see such a wide range of VAs in their different spaces – because yes, you do meet some via the Facebook groups but it was so good to put actual faces to names (even though it would have been 1000 times better in person).
Key Takeaway: We may be virtual but the industry is full of wide and varied professionals who specialise in many different industries, skills and services.
Modern Marketing with Rachel Allan
Having done a marketing degree before social media was actually a thing, I particularly love learning about marketing in the digital space and Rachel Allan delivered gold in a big way. What was even more generous was she gifted all of the attendees a copy of her book Authentic, Dynamic, Savvy as part of the big pink gift boxes so it is next on my reading list to absorb more of the concepts Rachel covered in her presentation.
Key Takeaway: Authenticity (one of my core values) is key in any element of marketing you do for your business – do what feels authentic to you and your audience will connect with you for the right reasons.
Elevator Pitch with Rosie Shilo (followed by Speed Networking)
Me – I hate me an elevator pitch. Until Rosie broke it down in the only way she knows how – truth bombs and laughs. And really it is gone are the days of the traditional elevator pitch – especially in the online world. Flipping the recipe around and talking about how you can help ease a potential client (or not even, just another small business owner’s) pain rather than focusing on yourself is a great place to start.
Key Takeaway: Gone are the days of vomiting your sales pitch at someone – be the solution, don’t add to your potential clients problems (and show your own personality).
Balancing stroke, a motorcycle accident, part-time work AND a busy Copywriting Biz with Shauna Upson
Shauna kicked off day two in a big way – one that absolutely tugged at my heartstrings. You know in the back of your mind to make plans for the unexpected but it tends to fall to the bottom on the list because you get busy with the day to day. I absolutely adore Shauna (she has helped me out with a number of copywriting tasks I’ve had for my own business) and even though I thought I knew how awesome she is, hearing even more of her story made it even more amazing at how she has created her business and continues to juggle a part-time role and her business.
Key Takeaway: No matter what life throws at you finding the balance that works for the stage of life you’re at is important – some days you will be all over it, but other days you will need to ask for help – so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Instagram – Everything You Need to Know for Business with Sam McFarlane
Notes galore came out of Sam’s presentation on Instagram for Business – because well, Sam is always delivering the practical and actionable goods whenever she presents her amazingness. Instagram has been changing the goal posts a lot however at the same time core elements are always at the centre of showcasing your business (and you) on Instagram and Sam gave some incredible guidance on how you can do it.
Key Takeaway: Put the social into your social media – yes it’s about creating content and posts, but don’t forget to engage with others too!
Networking and Business Building Strategies for VAs with Ingrid Bayer
Ingrid was our first casualty of the internet gremlins for Day 2 so I’ll report back when I get to watch the recorded presentation. Ingrid is the Founder of VA Institute and has authored three books now with her latest Futureproof Your Career now available. Ingrid has transitioned from running her own VA business into training and mentoring within the industry so I’m looking forward to learning more from her wisdom after being in the industry.
Key Takeaway: Will include in the update :o)
Being The Opportunity Seeker For Your Clients (and for yourself) with Korryn Haines
The speaker was, ME. But I also wanted to give a little background on why I chose this topic. Firstly, as this event was originally planned to run in 2020 it was almost 2 years since I picked the topic so I had a moment of is this still relevant? To which I realised, definitely yes – even more so after the previous 12 months. And I say that because all of the opportunities I have sought out for myself and my clients pre-pandemic have managed to continue to feed further opportunities my way as we are coming out the other side of things and things are slowing down.
Key Takeaway: Stay cool, calm and collected when the platform drops out and Otter (not quite a Beaver) Oodies are life (my speaker gift was a big fluffy oodie that I wish I could wear if Brisbane would hurry up and have a day that resembles Autumn / Winter).
Insurance for Savvy VAs with Philip Watson from Insurance Made Easy
Insurance Made Easy have long been aligned with the VA industry in Australia (and I have had my business insurance with them since I started in 2016). In what is usually a very dry topic Phillip ran through key scenarios of why and when VAs have the need for having adequate insurance in their businesses. It really highlighted the importance of reviewing your cover regularly.
Key Takeaway: Insurance is a must have in business – no matter what your business is and ensure you have the right coverage for your business requirements.
Why All VAs Should Answer Their Clients’ Calls with Hanna Finlay
The internet gods were not playing nice for Hanna (which was incredibly disappointing because Hanna is seriously one of my “when I grow up I wanna be a serious business owner like her” people). When I get to see her recorded presentation I’ll report back with it’s sheer brilliance.
Key Takeaway: I’ll keep you posted – but I know it’s going to be gold!
In a quick thinking switch Chris Alleyn from AMC Biz Solutions stepped on to the virtual stage and gave some really actionable advice around bookkeeping for your business and it helped to affirm what I have been doing up until now has been on the right track (yay me).
Fear of Failure with Rosie Shilo
Or as Rosie switched it up – Fear of Success (raised hand right here). This theme was probably the best topic to be discussing at the end of the two days because as small business owners this is possibly the biggest mental block for most to step out of the shadow of.
Key Takeaway: Really ask myself what is it I’m truly fearing when I stop myself in my own tracks – is it actually fear of failure or is it fear of success?
I know for a fact I’ve probably missed some key takeaways and themes covered – but it was an absolutely jam packed two days that had my head spinning (in a good way). Most of all I absolutely loved the collaboration and community feel that the whole event had at its core (and managed to keep fully engaged via an online platform) and I’m so looking forward to next year when (fingers, toes, every possible appendage crossed) when we get to do it again in person. Mind you, this year proved that being online wasn’t an obstacle that couldn’t be overcome.
If you want to know more about Virtually Yours, Rosie Shilo and the amazing community that she has created – you can check her out at www.virtuallyyours.com.au