There are many events that may be of interest to the savvy assistant. But how do PAs, EAs and VAs get the most value from them? 

Here are 10 tips to help. 

Make a note of these next time you’re looking at a conference, expo, trade fair, networking or other event to attend. 

1. Be Selective 

Attending an event in person requires time. There’s stuff to do before, getting there and back, and follow-up activity to manage. 

Before you register or book your ticket, consider whether the event is going to be a highly valuable use of your time. 

Is it simply a ‘nice to go’? Or does it offer something essential to your role, career or business? 

If you’re unsure, check it against your goals and objectives. Does it match with any of those? Does the event fall under one or more of your priorities? 

Ask around and see if any other professional assistants have been to the event. See what they say about it and the value of going. 

2. Plan Your Day 

Once you’ve registered or booked your ticket, it’s time to start planning for the event. 

Work out your travel arrangements and times. The earlier you sort this, the better the likely deals on fares. 

Check out the event website for the program schedule. Do you have to book any talks, presentations or forums in advance? If so, get yourself a seat early. 

Take a look at what else is happening on the day, or over the days, of the event. Are there any stands or exhibits of particular interest to you? Are there any structured networking opportunities?  

Planning your time will help you to get the maximum value out of being there – and avoid missing something important. 

3. Apps and Hashtags 

Some events may have an associated app. If so, add it to your smartphone. 

You may find it has additional information, special bonuses or the facility to network or chat more proactively. 

It can also be worth following the #hashtag of the event. It can be informative and fun. Yet another way to connect with people and gather up useful stuff. 

4. Network 

Whether it’s a conference, expo or trade event, it’s a great opportunity for the savvy assistant to meet people. 

Discover new contacts, build relationships, talk with experts, share ideas and create fresh social media connections. Who knows, you might even get some business out of a conversation. 

Before the event, think about what you want to get out of any networking opportunities that arise. 

If you have business cards, take them. They may seem a bit ‘old school’ but many exhibitors still love having yours for entry into their prize draws or competitions.  

5. Visit Exhibitors 

A bit of planning can help to ensure you see all the stands and organisations which interest you. 

Use the venue map to help you work out where your favourite exhibitors are within the building. You may be surprised how large the exhibition space is – and how many floors it can be spread over. 

Chat to people. Start conversations. Ask ‘What do you do?’ or ‘Can you tell me briefly about your product or service?’ It’s a great way to gather information and make new connections. 

6. Take Notes 

Take a notebook and pen with you. Or use a tablet or smartphone to record things. 

It’s rare for someone to be able to remember everything they are told or see during the day. Keeping notes will give you something to refer to after the event. 

You’ll find this most useful when listening to talks or presentations. You might also want to jot down any ‘to do’ items as you go, too. 

7. Take Photos or Video 

Another good way to record your day or something you’ve seen is to take photographs. 

Smartphones tend to have pretty good cameras on them these days.  

Do check what the event rules are on photography (and video recording). There may be restrictions. Contact the organisers if anything is unclear before you go. 

You could see a stand or display that looks amazing. There could be a product you’d like to get some photos of. There could be a ‘selfie’ opportunity with a celebrity or VIP. You could film some short video clips for social media. 

Take any kind of camera and be prepared to click or tap away a few pictures. 

8. Stay Hydrated 

Event programmes can make for long hours in a seat or on your feet. You’re going to need your energy to stay fresh through the day. 

Most importantly, ensure you drink enough water. If you have a small reusable water bottle, take it along. 

Don’t overdo it on the coffee and avoid eating ‘on the run’. Whether you’re a grazer or a lunch-lover, enjoy some healthier food if you can. It’ll help you get through the day. 

9. Make an Action List 

The event is not just about what happens on the day. 

If you’ve made new connections and exchanged business cards, you’ll want to drop them an email afterwards – to say how much you enjoyed meeting them at the show and to start nurturing that relationship. 

There might be an organisation to research. A product or service to explore further. A proposal or sales brochure to send somebody. 

Make a list as you go. This way you’ll remember ALL the things to do on your return to home or office. 

10. Confirm CPD Points or Hours 

With some events, attendance and participation may qualify for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Hours or Points. 

These accreditations can be used to demonstrate training and learning related to a specific subject. 

Attending conference sessions, expert seminars or online training may count towards your CPD. Check before you go and make sure you don’t miss out. 

For example, I’m going to be one of the guest expert presenters at next week’s The PA Show and the website talks about CPD opportunities for attendees. 

Will you be going? If so, do stop by my stand D74P to say hello. And, yes, bring your business cards. There’s a prize draw on both the 8th and 9th of March. 

Remember my top 10 tips before you go. 

I find Shelley’s training easy to follow and the very best thing is that you can do it all at your own pace and revisit modules if it doesn’t quite sink in the first time round! I have learned so much from her training and continue to do so! She is responsive to my questions and I learn something new with each module. I find Iam hardly ever having to Google or YouTube information now, so it really is saving me time in my work day. Time that can be better used by learning more about the business I operate in!
Thanks Shelley!

Tracey Whitehouse – Executive Assistant

I have been following Shelley on Linkedin for several years, and always loved her hints and tips. In May of this year, I had the opportunity to recommend Shelley as one of our workshop speakers at the annual HMC Heads’ PA Conference in Sheffield.

On receiving the brief Shelley quickly produced content for two IT Microsoft Skills Workshops covering nuggets from Outlook, Word and Excel. Shelley then delivered (virtually) these two fantastic workshops to over 60 PAs at our conference.

From initial enquiry to delivery Shelley is the consummate professional and it was my pleasure to have had the opportunity to engage with her.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Shelley to any individual or group.

Michaela Fletcher – Heads PA

Shelley is THE guru on all things Microsoft.

I love Outlook, use it every day, and think I have a pretty good understanding of it. But every time I attend one of her sessions I learn a lot more. Her knowledge is remarkable. And she delivers her knowledge in a really clear, engaging way.

Thanks Shelley

Kathy Soulsby

I have just spent less than an hour at one of Shelley’s presentations and my mind is truly blown! I thought I was fairly proficient in Outlook, but I had no idea it could do so much more! So many time saving tips and shortcuts to help me – I can’t wait to get stuck in and implement them all! Thank you Shelley – I would highly recommend!

Hayley Rose – Executive Assistant -Dalcour Maclaren

Shelley joined us for the annual HMC Heads’ PAs conference in May 2023, where she delivered two hands-on practical IT skills workshops for over 60 PAs in attendance. Both sessions were warmly received by all participants, and from a personal perspective it was an absolute pleasure for me to work with Shelley both offline in the extensive prep phase ahead of the sessions, and online during the day itself – sharp in subject knowledge, flexible in content delivery and everything executed with a really affable manner and “can-do” approach throughout. I would recommend her services wholeheartedly.

Gareth Johnson – Leader GRE Education

Heads PA Conference

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn. It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney