We’re very excited about the NWVA conference and, with less than four weeks to go to our fifth one, I wanted to share a bit of information about this year’s speakers so that you can get a bit excited too!

First up is a man I’ve been chasing for a couple of years (in a professional capacity of course, no need to panic PAul): the maestro of PA training, PAul Pennant of Today’s PA.

Today’s PA provides highly practical training for PAs, EAs and other office professionals. The company was named “Best PA Training Provider in the UK” five years running, having been voted for by thousands of PAs and EAs in the pa-assist.com Members’ Voice Awards 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Like I say, I’d had my eye on Paul for quite some time, having identified him as a perfect speaker for the conference. Knowing that he doesn’t normally come ‘up North’ for events, I thought he might take some convincing to make the journey. So, when I bumped into him earlier this year at the PA Show in London – he was a speaker and I was co-hosting the VA Conference and chairing the expert panel – I gave it my best shot. And, lo and behold (albeit under considerable pressure) he agreed. If you don’t ask you don’t get, right?

And on to Paula Cohen whom I met a few years ago at M62 Networking in Warrington.

Paula has been running her own business coaching company, for just over 10 years. In that time she has helped hundreds of business owners, just like you, to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to grow their own brilliant businesses. She is a former international athlete and was a senior manager in the banking world for many years so she brings a very broad mix of knowledge and experience.

I’ve admired Paula since we first met and, following her online, I’d noticed her emphasis on sales and marketing which isn’t an area we’ve covered at a conference so far and something I thought would be incredibly valuable to VAs. Paula’s approach really resonates with me, she’s a straight-talking, straight-up professional coach who always delivers, and I’m delighted she’s involved this year.

Former BBC business presenter Penny Haslam is back for her second time speaking at the conference, and this year she’s running an exciting interactive session. Penny is an award winning speaker who truly engages, inspires and entertains her audiences. She offers bespoke talks, keynotes, lunch and learns and plenary sessions for events, as well as training and courses.

I met Penny through networking with Catherine Sandland, and I’ve been working with her as a client for a few years now, so I can vouch first-hand for her incredible passion, knowledge and energy, not to mention her infectious sense of humour. Penny’s definitely a speaker who brings a buzz with her!

It was another VA, Gill Fletcher, who recommended the next speaker, Mark Wiseman, to me.

I also met Gill at M62 Networking, and Gill, having read a newsletter about the conference, contacted me earlier this year to recommend Mark as a speaker.

Mark has worked in the Telecoms industry for over 20 years, many of which leading Operations teams at board level. In his last role as Operations Director at TalkTalk, his team was over 350 people across three continents, and they delivered award-winning service both internally and for their customers. Mark is passionate about driving change and embracing technology.

I’m so glad Gill put us in touch as Mark is not only now working with me to move my IT systems over to MS365, but he’s going to teach us all A LOT about MS Software at the conference too.

Another speaker introduced to me by Gill Fletcher is James Perryman.

James works with lots of different and exciting clients, delivering training and development programmes, providing 1:1 coaching and business consultancy – all aimed at helping people and organisations grow and become better for themselves and their customers.

Following James on LinkedIn, I’ve been particularly drawn to his emphasis on self-care, how we talk to ourselves and the importance of making YOURSELF a priority, something we all need to be reminded of, especially as VAs whose focus is usually on keeping our clients happy!

And last but definitely not least is Becs Bates.

We asked in a survey what people would like to learn about at this year’s conference and the answers made it clear that LinkedIn was a pretty hot topic, but I wasn’t sure who’d be the best speaker on the subject.

Utilising my network (as always), I reached out to Kirsty James, owner of The Colony Networking Group who recommended (and introduced me to) Becs at a networking lunch. Funnily enough, I picked up an email after the lunch from one of last year’s speakers, Neil Simpson, asking if I’d mind him introducing me to the very same Becs Bates. So, it was clearly meant to be, and I’m so excited to have a speaker whose passion, commitment and knowledge really resonates with what we want people to get from the conference this year.

Whether you’re a complete novice or a seasoned digital socialiser, Becs can help you review your marketing approach to increase visibility and engagement to help grow your business.

So there you have it, six brilliant speakers lined up for you to not only enjoy and learn from on the day but to connect with and learn from beforehand. Please do add them to your LinkedIn network and follow them on Twitter.

This year’s line-up and how it came about really does show the value of networking, of getting out there, meeting people and connecting with others, whether it’s face to face or online.  There’s no doubt that If you want a really successful business, then you need to have a great source of relevant connections in your network that you can call on when you need them, and it’s not just about who you’re networking with directly either – that person will also have a network you can tap into as well.

So get connecting, get inspired and get ready for the conference; it’s going to be GREAT this year!

Only a few weeks to go so book your place here, you don’t have to be an established #VA, you may just be thinking about it or still working as a #PA or #EA.  Our door is open to all, see you there, Jo