BBC Radio Interview – Listen here

Well it’s been a day now since I was sitting in the BBC studios in Glasgow being interviewed by Fred MacAulay for the “MacAulay & Co” radio show on BBC Radio Scotland and the feedback I have had from all who heard it, out of the people I know like other virtual assistants, to clients, to other small business owners I’ve “met” via Twitter etc – the response and feedback has been fantastic.

I wasn’t too sure at the time how I came over live on air. I must admit, I do feel very self conscious about public speaking and before and during the interview, the nerves were jangling.  But I’ve been told I did very well, which is great to hear.

I arrived early at the studios and, not having been on that side of the River Clyde before, was really surprised at the size of the place.  It’s huge! Really impressive new building. After being given my pass, I waited in reception, then I was taken through security and upstairs to the studios.  Whilst I waited, I took this photo out of the window.  This is the view from the studios looking onto the SECC Clyde Auditorium – or “Armadillo” as it’s affectionately known in Glasgow – and along the River Clyde towards the city.  Not great quality as it’s from my phone camera and it was a rather grey dreich day outside!

I was then taken into the studio and it was all over far too soon.  Unfortunately the interview was cut short as they had Andrea Corr, of the Irish band The Corrs, being interviewed after me.

I won’t spoil the surprise of what was actually in the interview, save to say that my 2 objectives of raising awareness of the virtual assistant industry as a whole and raising the profile of Secretary4hire were achieved.  And I had fun, even if I didn’t get a shot on the typewriter!

Please feel free to comment.


We’re on BBC Radio Scotland! – online poll

I have been asked by BBC Scotland to go into the BBC studios tomorrow and participate in Fred MacAulay’s radio show “MacAulay & Co”.

The subject matter in the show about typing. The gist of it is, they were doing an item about Edinburgh University now allowing students to use laptops in their exams and day-to-day instead of writing and most people aren’t properly trained to type. The BBC surveyor asked me all sorts of questions over the phone and I mentioned some funnies including the fact that I was “old school” in that when I learned on a manual typewriter with a wooden box over my hands so I couldn’t look at the keys, learned to touch-type slowly that way and when the box was removed, if the teacher caught you looking at your hands, he hit you over the knuckles with a ruler. He wants me to provide some tips to the listeners who aren’t properly trained on how to improve typing skills and share some experiences.

I said I would conduct a quick poll amongst as many VAs and also non-VAs/business owners as I could before the radio show.

The link to the poll is here

Also, if any of you wish to share any tips on how to improve typing skills it would be good to hear yours, as I’m in the middle of compiling my own.  Fill this in in one of the text boxes in the poll please.

Really excited about this as it’s great publicity not only for my business going out to a massive audience but also the VA industry as a whole.

Update as of midday 24 May: They’ve just been back on the phone firming everything up and apparently they have sourced an old manual typewriter and they want me to give a demonstration.  I’ve not even SEEN one of these for 25 years never mind used one!! Maybe it’s like riding a bike. Let’s hope so!

Thanks in advance for completing the survey and don’t forget to tune in to the show tomorrow at 10.30am


Want to win a Netbook courtesy of Secretary4hire?

We here in Secretary4hire like to help out and partner with other VA companies as well as with our clients. As part of VASG (Virtual Assistant Support Group), we got to know Helen Stothard a couple of years ago and today we have teamed up with Helen’s company intelligentVA offering a prize in the competition being run to relaunch the intelligentVA website very soon.

There will be a number of prizes to be won, including:-

* Mini “smartbook” netbook from @secretary4hire
* 1 hours coaching worth £300 from @HeatherTowns, author of The Financial Times Guide to Business Networking
* £200 design voucher from @Ces_Loftus of Creatively Minded
* Facebook Fan Page Design from @NikkiPilkington of
* 2hr Book Critique of manuscript or 3hr Skype guidance to kickstart your book idea from Robert Watson @drdrdr09
* 1 Hours Xero Training from Nicola Wilson @totally4B
* One months call handling from Call Team @CallTeam
* Logo design, web hosting and custom wordpress training from @SallyWalker of Sally Walker Creative Media
* One hours VA assistance from @cloud9va
* £25.00 Amazon Gift Voucher from @intelligentVA
* One hours CapsuleCRM training from HLS Business Solutions
* Spa pamper package from @HuntersHealth
* Eat That Frog and e-Myth revisited books from @SJABradley of Help Ahoy
* Custom WordPress training from WordPressWitch
* Office Stuff/Meyrick Jones Guide to Contingency Planning from @OfficeStuff
* One hours transcription from Burford Secretarial @BurfordVA

with more prizes being added all the time, so check back for updates.

If you are a budding or seasoned VA, one of our clients or someone in business who could benefit from any of these amazing prizes, stay tuned for the details of the competition, coming soon.
Tel: 0141 530 9686
Tel2: 0844 884 2818

Twitter Medical Story

As a follow on from the newspaper story from my point of view published in the Clydebank Post yesterday (7 July 2010), the guy who has the illness Patrick Johnson’s version was published today in his local paper in Cornwall.  He made the front page too! 

Read it as a PDF here on this blog or read it online here – “Tweeting Makes Man Seek Vital Medical Aid” in Patrick’s local paper


Press – call 07854 408142 re Twitter story

Medical Emergency – Newspaper Story Here

Newspaper Article Below on the recent medical emergency of Patrick Johnson

News Article - I Saved Man from Paralysis via Twitter

If for any reason this does not show or you cannot read it, you can download the story from the newspaper

How I helped in a medical emergency – via Twitter!

As a Virtual Assistant and as a businesswoman, social media plays a huge part in my day-to-day activities.  Working in an environment where, physically, you are alone every day, it’s important to have contact with people.  And even more so, it’s important to build and foster good relationships – could be with your clients or potential clients, other virtual assistants or generally just chatting to people.  It’s good to talk, as the old advert for BT used to say. Nowadays in business, the talking is done online.

There are still some cynics out there that say social media is a waste of time.  Well what I say to that is, they just don’t “get” it.  As I said, it’s not about bombarding people with sales info about you or your product, it’s about building relationships.  And to do that, you communicate with people the way you would in “real” life. Talk to them not only about their business, but about them – if they’re watching the footie or the tennis, what their favourite tipple is, how they’re planning their weekend, what sort of app do you need to do whatever on your phone. Anything and everything.  

And, as one conversation I had this week unfolded, a whole other side of social media came into its own.  I was chatting to Patrick Johnson, a graphic designer from Cornwall on Twitter (@PMJtweets) and he mentioned that he felt like he had had a stroke as half his face didn’t work properly.  I firstly thought, it’s some kind of joke and was waiting for him to tweet the punchline. No punchline came and I got worried. I tweeted back that if he was serious, he should visit A&E urgently as the symptoms of Bells Palsy can mimic a stroke. 

I know about Bells Palsy as one of my friends (a drummer in my band) was diagnosed with this a few years ago.  He thought he had had a stroke. Left side of his face totally dropped and it was very debilitating.  I also knew that if you caught it early enough, it could be treated but if you left it, there was a chance of permanent disfigurement. 

A couple of hours later, I got a message from Patrick that he had indeed been diagnosed with Bells Palsy at A&E and he wouldn’t even have gone to the hospital had it not been for the info I gave him. 

So, for all the cynics out there still not convinced, this is proof that it is has got enormous value not only in the virtual workplace, but for the human need to communicate – and could maybe even help you in a medical emergency! 

If you want to read Patrick’s blog “How Twitter Saved My Face”, read it here

I wish him a speedy recovery. 

Thanks to you for reading. More power to you all if you already communicate with me on Twitter (@Secretary4hire), on Facebook (“Like” me here), on Linked-In here or by reading my blogs here on WordPress. Or Skype me on Secretary4hire. 

If you haven’t communicated with me yet, fancy a natter? 

Tel: 0844 884 2818

UK VA Conference 2010 – Inspiration, Knowledge and Friendship

After months of looking forward to it, the time finally arrived last weekend when I met up with other Virtual Assistant delegates and presenters when I attended the VA Conference and Awards at the Marriott Hotel, Forest of Arden in Birmingham, an annual event since 2007.

This conference is the only chance in a year that the majority of VAs in the UK will get an opportunity to meet, chat and network with – both for business and socially – other VA business people from all around the UK.  It’s also a chance for Virtual Assistants to attend presentations by inspirational leaders in business and share in their knowledge, but also to network with suppliers that can be beneficial to both ours and our clients’ businesses.  All in all, it’s the greatest collaboration of entrepreneurs from within and associated with the VA industry annually in the UK.

The Journey

The tone of the whole weekend was set right from the off when myself, Lyndsey Mckendry (@CallTeam), Caroline Wylie (@VirtuallySorted) and Diane Murray (@Hebrideangirl), who was the farthest traveled of all the delegates attending, being she lives in Stornoway in the Isle of Lewis, all met up in Glasgow City Centre to travel in “The Tartan Taxi” (#TartanTaxi).  Myself and Lyndsey proudly sported our Scotland football tops in celebration of our travels and the fact that England played it’s first game in the world cup that day!  Jimmy the knitted mascot proudly sported his kilt and bagpipes!  We met up with Lisa Dunn (@Lisa_HexagonVA) at Gretna and we had a hilarious journey down to Birmingham, tweeting all the way, and even managed an impromptu Gay Gordons in a BP services forecourt, much to the surprise of a Ginsters lorry driver who almost knocked us down when he saw us.

Personally, the best and most exciting thing for me was meeting other VAs face-to-face for the first time.  And let’s not forget, these are people who are my associates and who I have been working with since I set up Secretary4hire (@Secretary4hire) in June 2006.

Pre-Conference Meet Up

The VAs were split between the Marriott Hotel and the Premier Inn at Birmingham NEC being that there were so many of us.  Our group had a super time on the Friday night at our hotel (Premier Inn) and a lovely meal and the hilarity continued everyone joined forces when the Marriott contingent joined us at the Premier later that evening when special presents were handed out to #VASG members by @SJABradley – big pants.  There were special presentations to some of the speakers – like Superman they are classed as VA superheroes and superheroes wear their pants on the outside.  The pants were duly donned and have now become something of a must-have item. #pantsforspeakers.  I think a bit of a precedent has been set.  Can’t wait to see what happens next year.

Conference Day

The 2010 conference on Saturday provided the delegates with the opportunity of seeing some of the UK’s most engaging motivational speakers, who are inspiring businesses and business mentors in their own right, at the conference’s plethora of presentations throughout the whole day.  And there wasn’t a stuffy or boring speech amongst them.  The atmosphere, it has to be said, was electric.  Really vibrant and upbeat with lots of energy.   And with each quotable statement, the Blackberries and iPhones got a bashing as every exciting minute was documented and tweeted, using the #VAUK10, #VASG, #TartanTaxi and #KentKab hashtags, so that the rest of the UK VAs and the world could keep abreast.

As well as the 8 speakers who presented on the day, there were also our sponsors with stands set up on the day offering discounted deals and offers exclusive to the VA delegates.

The day of the conference was actually my 4 year anniversary, so it was a double celebration.  And it couldn’t have been any better sharing it with like-minded professionals in such a relaxed but educational and inspirational setting.

Although, in the main, Virtual Assistants work from their own homes without a physical presence of associates around them, the community as a whole quickly found that, even if you are sitting in a room working on your own, there’s a whole network of other VA business people in the same position as yourself you can talk to and share with, except they do this using many different forms of media electronically (email, Skype, Twitter, Blackberry, iPhone, phone, text to name a few).  They have found that it’s extremely important for them to work together and collaborate with each other and that the support they can all give each other is invaluable, making working on your own enjoyable, having that network of associates with you every step of the way.

VA Support Group

One network who has to get a special mention is the VA Support Group (@VASupportGroup) (#VASG), founded by Dee Usoka (@DeeVAS), Anne-Marie Mittleman (@AVirtualAngel) and Emily Robe (@EmilyRobe) about a year previously but it is now a very successful network of VAs with around 100 members..  I joined this network of virtual assistants, whose motto is “collaboration not competition” a few months ago and have found it to a completely invaluable resource, both in terms of the abundance of skills and knowledge of the members, but also for the support that we all provide to each other physically, emotionally and professionally. 

As for our clients, having this network available to us means that these shared skills and experience provides further value to our clients and their businesses.  If we don’t know the answer to something, someone in our network will.  And that’s where the collaboration without competition comes in.  We all help each other.

The Awards Ceremony

But the highlight of the day – and the bit we were all waiting for – was the Awards Ceremony acknowledging the achievements of individual Virtual Assistants and what they have contributed to the VA industry as a whole in the past year.  There was only 1 award this year (as opposed to previous years where there were 2 for Under 2 Years and Over 2 Years in business).

  • The VA of Year Award went to Sara Gill (@OfficeBird)
  • Runner up to the VA of the Year award went to Charlotte Burford (@BurfordVA)
  • VA Customer Service Award went to Rona Wheeldon (@OrganisedPA)

Being a member of the VA Support Group, there was an euphorius cheer when the 3 founders of the group won “The Spirit of VA Award”.

Well done:
Anne Marie Mittleman (@AVirtualAngel)
Emily Robe (@EmilyRobe) and
Dee Uzoka (@DeeVas)

Special award went to Diane Murray (@Hebrideangirl) who won a lunch date with the enigmatic and exuberant Brad Burton (@BradBurton) (#GOYA).  Inverness won’t know what has hit it.


The 2010 VA Conference and Awards was my very first conference as a professional virtual assistant.  I booked up, in all honesty, for the social networking side of it – to meet all of the other VAs I’ve worked with closely and befriended over the years, albeit in an online capacity.  To say I was excited to meet them face-to-face was an understatement!  But the actual conference content, the vibe and the whole energy of it made me really really glad that I booked up.  I learned a lot on the day and tweeted furiously during every presentation.

Some memorable quotes and tips can be found if you go to @Secretary4hire #TartanTaxi, #VAUK and #VASG.

I have met some wonderful women who I’m lucky enough to be able to call my friends.

All that remains to be said is :

“Can’t wait til #VAUK11”

See you there!


Mark Shaw, Twitter Expert – @MarkShaw
Steve Clarke, Eureka Sales – @UKSalesMentor
Nick Williams, Inspired Entrepeneur – @NickWilliams1
Sarah-Jayne Hewitt, Winning Ways to Wealth @SarahJHewitt
Richard White, The Accidental Salesman – @Richard__White
Brad Burton, MD of 4Networking group – @BradBurton
Paul Fuggle, Internet with Integrity – @PaulFuggle
Alex Stone, Just too Busy – @JustTooBusy
Tel: 0844 884 2818

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Twitter and Facebook eating into your time? Help is here

It’s Monday morning. You sign into your Facebook profile to update your status and start browsing through your friends’ profiles. You’re looking at their photos from the weekend when you see a friend was tagged in an album of someone you don’t know. You click around a few more times and before you know it, you’re looking at wedding photos of total strangers. Does this seem all too familiar to you? If you have a social networking profile, it probably does. While many job seekers heed advice on joining social media sites to use them as networking tools, they are also warned not to invest too much time — especially at work — in these all-consuming, often-addictive online vehicles. But times are changing. Social media have become a place where people communicate and interact with each other. This makes it a place where companies, businesses and brands shouldn’t be missing. Consequently, a lot of jobs in online marketing all now require some level of social media expertise. Social media on the rise more companies are utilising social networking efforts by Twittering, blogging and creating profiles on sites like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to gain exposure and increase customer service. Many companies see their presence in social network as an opportunity to communicate better with its associates and candidates on topics like employment, market issues and internal events. Plus, having an active Facebook page helps candidates find them and increase visibility. For example, NHS Professionals Special Health Authority, the leader of temporary staffing provision to the NHS, and the world’s biggest online betting community Betfair are very successful with Facebook. The pages allow them to connect with potential candidates and increase their brand recognition. While these organisations clearly figured out an effective strategy, not every company is in the same boat. Many firms know they need to get in the space, but once they’re there, they have no idea how to leverage their existence. As a result, employers need people with social networking skills — like Secretary4hire — to come on board and take over.

Contact us TODAY and let us create and maintain your online social networking presence without all the added distractions.
Tel: 0844 884 2818




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