Many people wonder if they should go to IVAA events like the IVAA Online and Live Summits.
They both cost money and it takes time out of your workweek to attend. And yes, being there at the LIVE Summit can possibly benefit you much more when you get opportunities to meet people in-person. Attending the Online Summit sessions live will also benefit you much more than simply listening to the recordings later.
As someone who has been to more than 15 industry conference, let me share some of the reasons why I believe 1000% in industry conferences as a way to build your business.
What can you expect to pay to attend a conference?
For an online event, you will typically pay about $100 US to attend, not to mention the time it takes to be away from clients.
A live event will cost more. I always budget $1500-2000 US to go – the event ticket, hotel, and flight as well as meals and spending + time away. This may be lower if you do not have to fly to get there. I will almost always have to fly somewhere until the magical day when we host an IVAA Live Summit here in Halifax, Nova Scotia – which would be freaking awesome by the way!!! Everyone always wants to go to Nova Scotia! One day it will happen…. but back to the topic at hand.
Is it worth paying money and taking off client work time – billable time to go to a conference?
You BET IT IS!!!
This is how you build and grow your business. How you can AMPLIFY your results and success. How you can make that dream VA business in your mind a reality.
Back in 2009, I went to a conference that literally kicked off my VA business; a business that has endured for ten years now and has me doing way more in it than I ever imagined. Speaking, training, mentoring, leading others… it is wild! I never even dreamed this up. And yet here it is, my reality – all because of trade associations like IVAA, VANetworking and VAClassroom.
These were the associations and groups that kicked off my business because I took the time and invested in me. I put money into training and development of myself and my skills, and it has truly changed my life.
If you want your VA business to grow, you need to work at it. A big chunk of growing your business is professional development. Industry conference participation is the number one way to do this. If you are not willing to learn and grow your skills and abilities, you will most likely not grow your business; not as much as others you see around you.
What are the Top 5 reasons VAs attend Industry Conferences?
Professional Development: As Virtual Assistants, we work alone a lot. Learning new skills and techniques are ways to build your business. Even learning new ways to be productive or sell your services to clients helps to build your business. It is not always about focusing on your specialized skills, but also finding additional ways to develop yourself and your business.
Meet Peers in your Industry: This is huge. Having a network of friends and buddies who understand your business is key to letting off steam, brainstorming, troubleshooting issues and getting advice. I find our industry is not really competitive peer-to-peer as much as a supportive one, so you may even meet your next best friend. I did!
Get out of your Comfort Zone: This is a big contributor to the failure of many VA businesses. Most of us have gone from being an admin person – a doer, to be the leader of our own businesses – the CEO. Life and business will never grow and change unless you do. Getting uncomfortable tends to be one factor that shows you are starting to grow. Putting yourself into new situations where you are wary, timid and even scared will help you build your business. Trust me, being scared will sometimes be the kick in the pants you need to take a risk and try something new. Something that could catapult you into long-term success.
Ideas and Inspiration: Conferences are often places where I get my new ideas to bring back to my business and then make a change. Most often these changes have resulted in new and improved services, and that means more income. That is why events like the Online and Live Summits bring in a variety of speakers, so we can ensure everyone walks away with something to take back to their business.
Build your Confidence: This is one thing that does not often get shared when people talk about the benefits of attending conferences, but it has always been a big one for me. All the learning, networking and interaction with people at conferences has always helped boost my own confidence in not only what I do and offer in my business, but also as a person. As women (most VAs are women, but if you are a guy VA reading this – yay for you!!! You are one-in-a-million, but just go with this idea okay?), we tend to be humble about our skills and abilities. Sometimes talking to others can make you realize just how frigging good you are. Now, I am not saying others are not as good as you – but in conversation, you will often share good advice with others, and they thank you and give appreciation for your point-of-view and expertise. This boosts confidence when people say things like, “Great Idea Kathy!” It can solidify in your mind that you are great at what you do and that you can try new things and take a chance. Conferences are always where, in my interactions with others, I realize that I AM good at what I do. I take that feeling of pride back with me, and it helps me sell myself in new situations and on new sales calls.
Conferences will always pay back your investment with improvements in your business. Just be open to taking the time to attend and invest in them. Don’t shortchange yourself and think they are of no value. I will argue you to the death – well, not death, maybe like a fake death, okay? Oh! Or how about for a sundae maybe? But not death … * So, trying that again… I will fight you for a Salted Caramel Sundae that Industry Conferences are always a good investment! 😊
I hope to see you on May 3rd and 4th at AMPLIFY, our Online Summit this year. The fee will be under $100 for members, so stay tuned for when you can register and book your seat to attend the Online Summit, this year’s two-day Industry conference for Virtual Assistants.
See you in May!
Events Director, IVAA