There's A Meeting for That

International Virtual Assistants Association Live Summit

Things get interesting when virtual assistants gather for a live meeting.

Illustration by Carmen Segovia.

Don’t let the name fool you. IVAA’s members, who provide administrative and technical support to remote clients, actually predate the Internet. “I can think of many virtual assistants out there that are saying, ‘Even back when it was just typewriters, I was doing secretarial work at home,’” said IVAA President Yvonne Weld, owner and CEO of Ontario-based Able Virtual Assistant Services. “To me, that’s the dawn of the virtual assistant.”

And today? Virtual assistants do “everything from formatting reports, typing reports,” Weld said, “right on up to more technical skills like website maintenance, social media, doing some [online] shopping-cart work. The gamut of everything you would need as back-end support for a small-business owner — a virtual assistant can help you with that.”

IN THE FLESHAs you might expect, IVAA offers a variety of virtual programs, including weekly coffee chats and, every October, a two-day Online Summit. But the Live Summit is particularly important to members. “It’s the same with any industry that if you’re working by yourself day in, day out, it’s nice to get out there and be around other people,” Weld said, “especially when there are learning opportunities available.”

SELLING IT LIKE IT ISA dominant topic of programming at the Live Summit was sales, with sessions on “Building Relationships to C.L.O.S.E. Sales” and “Blogging for Business: Boost Leads, Prospects, and Sales!” “As much as we think we don’t have to sell, every part of being a business owner is about selling,” Weld said, “so to have someone come in and help us with those sales conversations is very critical to the success of a virtual assistant.”

UNSCRIPTEDThe Live Summit offered plenty of scheduled opportunities for networking and socializing, “but a lot of what happened was just around the tables in the bar, out in the patio area, around the swimming pool,” Weld said. “It’s one of those things where you’re walking down the hall and you see someone else, and before you know it, a big group forms.”

IVAA: International Virtual Assistants Association Live Summit
May 4–7, 2015
Kingston Plantation Embassy Suites
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina


Where in the World
IVAA has about 700 members, most of them in Canada and the United States, but the virtual-assistant profession is “definitely a worldwide thing,” said IVAA’s Yvonne Weld. “We have members in Australia, we have members in Dubai, we have lots of them that are in England.”

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso formerly was executive editor of Convene.