Top 10 Tips for Becoming a VA

SVA put together 10 baby-steps to becoming a VA – a must-read for any aspiring assistants! Continue reading

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Dealing with a difficult colleague

There’s a lot of responsibility resting on modern professional’s shoulders. Not only do you have to be a successful, skilled and hardworking individual, you also have to act the part, regardless of how many curveballs get thrown your way.

Unfortunately, we all have to deal with difficult people at work at one point or another. Learning how to deal with a co-worker who tests your patience will provide valuable lessons that take your professional and personal life to the next level. You will acquire the skills to cope with challenging situations and demanding people, which will, over time, allow you to simply brush it off and rise above.

There’s a reason the most successful people in the world schedule no time for drama in their day. They know how valuable their time is and that petty conflict only slows them down. These people don’t waste a moment trying to reason with someone who is fixated on office politics. It’s not arrogant or selfish to avoid the politics; it’s called dealing. Ultimately, you want to deal with the crazymakers quickly and efficiently, focus and be successful, otherwise your day lacks purpose and your work suffers.

Below we discuss the ways in which you can learn to cope with difficult colleagues swiftly, brush it off and carry on with a purpose.

Self-confidence and courage

Your ability to cope with difficult co-workers largely depend on the strength of your self-confidence, courage and self-esteem. If someone is generally obnoxious, has an inflated sense of self or behaves in a way that affects more than one person in the office, they’re easier to deal with. You can call them out on it as many times as it takes or simply choose to disregard their behaviour and continue to focus on what you need to do.

However, when someone is aggressive in their demeanour, undermining you as a professional or constantly arguing with you to prove a point or have the last say it becomes slightly more challenging. According to psychological studies, these personalities feel the constant need to compete for the spotlight, power and recognition. Their aim is to put you on the spot and make you feel uncomfortable or inadequate.

These issues with co-workers should be dealt with swiftly otherwise the tension starts simmering below your calm exterior and eventually erupts into a full-blown office fight. Your best option is to talk to the person in a private meeting, as they love making a scene in front of an audience. Discuss your differences and try to reach a compromise on how to handle conflict going forward. If this doesn’t solve the issue, the next step would be to involve management.

Keep calm and carry on

We all have hot-buttons that, when pushed, cause us to lose our cool and react in a way that we may later regret. When dealing with an unreasonable or difficult person, maintaining your composure will allow you to handle the situation with better judgment.

When conflict arises or someone is making life at work unbearable for you, breathe and count to ten before reacting or responding. Sometimes it’s best to take a break, step back and schedule a private meeting to talk it out once you both calmed down. Your greatest

leverage is your own behaviour when someone else acts in an inappropriate or unreasonable manner.

Keeping your composure also allows you to approach the person with more respect, which may lead them to calm down and be more open to what you’re saying. If you take a softer approach towards the person and a stronger one towards the problem you show yourself as a strong problem-solver.

Be an observer

When you’re having trouble with crazymakers, it might be a good idea to assess the situation from an observer’s point of view. Here it’s absolutely vital to keep your cool, as when you’re worked up and angry you’re less likely to see things objectively.

Look at how an outsider would view your reaction and the difficult person’s behaviour. Are they really out of line or are you overly sensitive and easily offended. You may find that you’re overreacting to something that is actually quite innocent. Constantly being defensive will only fuel the fire and make them hit back harder and give them more ammunition against you.

Learn to like

Sometimes we find someone difficult and hard to get along with when we don’t like that person. This complicates matters even more.

Think about why you don’t like that person and why everything they do rubs you up the wrong way. A popular psychological theory indicates that deep in your psyche you may find traces of the unlikeable trait in yourself. The reason you don’t like that person is that they remind you of a part of yourself.

Learning to like someone you can’t stand, is indirectly learning to like and accept yourself. This is all part of the complex human condition and being compassionate with yourself and the person you don’t get along with is key when dealing with these types of situations. Approaching someone you consider unlikeable and difficult with compassion, turns the whole situation on its head instead of letting it become progressively worse until your working environment is completely unbearable.

It’s important to note that while you might encounter truly difficult and just plain unpleasant people at work, your own behaviour determines how well you deal with the person and resolve the situation. Before taking any action, first determine if their behaviour is at fault or if you are reacting in a way that aggravates the situation.

Author: Christine Kleyn

Christine is the content creator for Pressure Coolers and her work has been featured on many health and wellbeing websites. You can follow her on Twitter @christinekleyn and Google+.

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SEO Magic

A VA asked me today how she could get more hits to her website, it had been up for several months and was averaging just a few hits a day… Now firstly whilst this seems a bit rubbish, it’s actually not unusual for a VA website – here’s the average number of hits our members get:

How many unique visitors does your website get per month?

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Secondly there are a few nifty shortcuts you can do… Google wants to serve up search results to their customers which are highly relevant for whatever they type in.  And they also want to promote their own services like YouTube, Google Places, Google+, Google Adwords etc. at the same time.  Why are we so concerned about Google rather than any other search engine?  Well, nearly 70% of searches worldwide are done via Google – they are the world leader, and where they go, others follow.  So by concentrating on keeping Google happy, we tick lots of boxes with everyone else too.

We don’t want to annoy them by doing complicated razzmatazz and trying to pull the wool over their eyes with Black Hat SEO techniques, we want the people who land on our website to be interested in what we’re talking about too, because that’s how you convert leads to sales.

Is your product unique?

If your product is unique then you’ll find that it is easier to get up the search engines simply because there is less competition, but you need to make sure that the product or service keywords on your site are the ones that people actually would type in to find you.  So for example, “virtual assistants” is a pretty competitive search term, but “marketing assistant Cleathorpes” will be easy to get near the top of the search listing because there are less people in competition for it.

Use terms that your clients would use to search for you – ask them what they would type in if they were looking for your services online.  It might be something you’ve never thought of calling yourself… “freelance secretary” “remote admin assistant”.  Include your locality as (strangely!) clients still do place a lot of importance on this.  Have a different page for each search term so you can optimise it properly for that search term including keywords in the titles, the text etc. and tweaking content to fit that particular customer.


How do you determine the correct keywords to use on your site, simply follow the 3 bullet points below to get you started:

  • Will people search for the product or service you are offering on your site? If not you’ll want to stop here and try other marketing methods.
  • Okay so they will, now you need to figure out what words or phrases they would use to describe your product or service. Ask people to describe what you have, you may be surprised to learn words that you would never have thought of as you are too close to your company.
  • Now you have your keywords type them into search engines and see who your competition are. This will also let you see how difficult it may be to get up to the top of the listings.

Here are a couple of really good tools to help with keyword searches and the best bit it that they are completely free!

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Society of Virtual Assistants January 2015 Newsletter

Hi there,Virtual PA-233

Over Christmas you may have noticed the forum being down – our database ran out of space (all those millions of posts!) but it has now been fixed and you should be able to log in as normal on

We’re still 50 entries short on the SVA Survey - we have over 1,400 members and just 70 have filled it out… If you haven’t managed to get it done yet, please can you take 15 minutes to help the industry and give us a snapshot of where you are? It’s disappointing to get such a low turnout when we do put a lot of work into it each year.  Unless we get a statistically valid result of 10% of the industry, we can’t publish the results.


Caroline Continue reading

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Lean In – book giveaway

Lean in book

If 2015 is your year for blossoming into a confident business woman, this book is a great first step.  Written by Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook fame, it examines why women aren’t succeeding in business when they are getting better marks than their male counterparts at school and university.

For VAs, I think it also poses some real questions about work:life balance and our value in the home.  I swear by the end of it you will be pushing rubber gloves at your significant other and heading out to a networking event (or at least signing up to Lean In’s inspiration Facebook group, which I highly recommend!).

We have a beautiful hardback book to giveaway…


T&Cs: You must be UK based and only one entry per person – winning entry will be randomly chosen on 30 January 2015.

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IYOTSA 2014: From here to the next 30 years…

As part of the International Year of the Secretary/Assistant 2014, participating organisations are developing themes for their members in order to raise awareness of Secretaries and Assistants throughout the world… This month is:

From here to the next 30 years…

All successful people men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.
– Brian Tracy Continue reading

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Office* Voted Best PA Event of the Year!

Fresh from the success of its fifth edition last month, office* has been crowned ‘Best PA Industry Event’ 2014.  It won the popular vote at’s Members Voice Awards, which were announced on 21 November.

Having already won widespread support from across the UK’s PA and office manager community, with 86% of surveyed visitors rating the 2014 show as excellent/good, office* can now count many of’s members amongst its legion of fans.  According to, a total of 7,649 votes were cast across its six award categories.

Please click here for the full article.

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PA Life scoops major industry award

PA Life magazine has been declared the Best Industry Publication for management assistants in the Members’ Voice Awards 2014. The publication beat off competition from a number of other sources of information, including two other print titles that were also shortlisted.

The full article can be found here.

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An interesting video post from Michelle @ Virtual Miss Friday on Plagiarism…

More info on Michelle’s site here:

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Last Posting Dates for Christmas!

xmastreeA good one to remind your clients of – and a sneaky way of also telling them when you will be working over Christmas and New Year too!

  • Last posting dates: 2nd class – Thursday 18th December, 1st class – Saturday 20th December 2014

Happy Holidays!

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IYOTSA 2014: The power of a career-path

As part of the International Year of the Secretary/Assistant 2014, participating organisations are developing themes for their members in order to raise awareness of Secretaries and Assistants throughout the world… This month is:

The power of a career-path

The will to succeed is important, but what’s more important is the will to prepare. – Bobby Knight Continue reading

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