8 Tips for Attending a Conference

Attending business or trade shows is a great way to connect with businesses, network and learn new skills.  Here are some of my tips to help you prepare for your next conference.

1  Plan ahead.   Preparing ahead is so important. as time spent preparing and planning will help to ensure you arrive in a calm, organised and timely manner. Time spent planning your travel and accommodation will also help to make sure you find the most cost-effective options.

2.  Study the agenda.   Have a plan for the day to make the most of your time. Plan which seminars you will be attending, and check who is attending.  Many conferences have social media accounts specifically for the event, which provides a great opportunity to connect with businesses prior to the event.

3.  Print your tickets.   Another option is to download to your phone.  However, don’t forget to have the image of the tickets saved in an option that does not rely on access to the internet.  As there may not be a connection at the entrance / registration area.

4.  Business cards.   Remember to take a good supply.

5.  Arrival at the Venue.   Arrive early to avoid spending time in a queue at registration, and to maximise your time at the event.

6.  Event Venue.   Familiarise yourself with the layout of the event to save time and ensure you are in the right place at the right time.

During the Conference

7. Take Notes.  Write notes on the back of business cards as a reminder when following up at a later date. Or if you prefer a digital option use a system such as Evernote to make notes, creating a notebook specifically for the conference.

After the Conference

8. Follow up.   Follow up on connections made, ideally the day after the conference whilst it is still fresh in everyone’s mind.


Thank you for reading.



Anne Clarkson of Strawberry Office provides flexible administrative support services to small businesses.  If you would like help with planning your next visit to a conference or business event, contact me by email at  anne@strawberryoffice.com to arrange a free Discovery Call to discuss how I can help you.



Do you need to clear your Inbox?

Do you dread opening your email account because it is clogged up with hundreds of messages? Do you feel overwhelmed by an ever-growing list of incoming emails?

Not only is the beginning of the year a good time for setting goals, it is also the perfect time to clear out your email Inbox and take steps to make it more manageable.

Here are some tips for cleaning out your inbox, and then putting steps in place to make incoming messages more manageable.

1.  Delete in Batches

To make it easier, and quicker, to delete messages that are no longer required, sort your Inbox by sender.  You can then work through and delete the messages in batches. Eg newsletters, junk mail.

2.  Create folders for archiving

For the remaining messages, create new folders and label them in an appropriate way for your messages such as one for each previous year, or months. Sort the inbox by date. Highlight the emails for a particular year or month and drag them across to the corresponding folder. You can then work through the more recent ones when you have the opportunity, or use them just as a reference if you have a query. If you have not used or looked at them in six months’ time – delete them.

3.  Unsubscribe

To reduce the volume of incoming messages, unsubscribe to unnecessary newsletters and messages.  Another option is to create another email account and only use that account for subscribing to newsletters.

4.  Create new folders

To manage the incoming messages, create new folders for types of messages or specific senders.

5.  Set up rules

To save time, create rules for incoming messages so that they divert straight in to your new folders.  By monitoring when there are unread messages in those folders, you can read them by subject or priority.


Strawberry Office provides administrative support to small businesses, and lifestyle management to busy people.

If you would like help with reducing your inbox, and setting up new systems for managing your incoming messages, please contact me at anne@strawberryoffice.com to arrange a discovery call to discuss how I could help.


Thank you for reading.


8 Interesting Facts about Christmas Cards

Whilst planning my Christmas card writing service, I came across some interesting facts about Christmas cards and thought I would share them with you.

Who invented the Christmas Card?

Well, back in the Victorian period the tradition was to send a letter to family and friends at Christmas.  Sir Henry Cole a founding director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, was also a great supporter of the introduction of the Penny Post on 1840.  In 1843 he received large quantities of letters and was concerned that he would not be able to reply to them all, which would have been considered rude.

He wanted to find a quicker way of replying to his letters, and decided to use a card to write a short message.  He commissioned John Callott Horsley to paint a picture for the front of his card, which was in the style of a postcard and the size was 5 1/8 by 3 3/4 inches.

He commissioned one thousand cards, and the surplus cards were sold for one shilling, making them the first commercial Christmas Cards.

When did the format change to a book format?

People found that they wanted to write longer messages and didn’t have room on the postcard style.  In 1915 a Kansas Card Company, the Hall Brothers Company which later became Hallmark, designed the book style format we have today.  They were 4 by 6 inches and folded to fit in an envelope.

Why are robins featured on cards?

In the Victorian period postmen wore red waistcoats and were nicknamed “Robins” and this is why cards often show a robin delivering the post.

How many cards were sold in the UK?

In 1880 following the introduction of the Half Penny postage approximately 11.5 million cards were sent.

In 2017 one billion cards were sold in the UK, including 100 million single Christmas cards, and 900 million in boxes.

Charities estimate that £50 million is raised for good causes.

Thank you for reading.



Strawberry Office provides flexible, virtual, administrative support to small businesses, and support with lifestyle management.

If you are struggling to find the time to write your cards, Strawberry Office has a Christmas Card Writing Service, and more details can be found on the Strawberry Office website.


I’ve heard the term VA, but what is a Virtual Assistant?

Whilst attending networking events, I have noticed that not many people are familiar with the term Virtual Assistant.  Indeed, I think some may think is it some form of robot or virtual online help, perhaps built into a car.  So I thought I would write a few lines to explain.

Where did the term come from?

It is believed that the term Virtual Assistant was first used by Thomas Leonard, a coach and speaker, who founded Coach U.  He travelled throughout the US living in a Winnebago and had an assistant who helped arrange his travel.  With no physical office, and constantly travelling, he never met his assistant, Anastacia Brice, and once referred to her as his “Virtual Assistant”. He continued to use the term and encouraged other coaches to have a VA to assist with their businesses.

Who was the first VA?

Having done some research, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer, but two of the pioneering VAs were Anastacia Brice and Christine Durst.  Secretaries were working from home back in the 1980s, but with advances in computer technology in the 1990s it became possible to provide administrative support further afield, even to other countries, hence the term ‘Virtual’ Assistant.

Stacey Bryce went on from being a VA for Thomas Leonard to establishing the VA training business, AssistU, and Christine Durst wrote “The 2-Second Commute” book.

What does a VA do?

A Virtual Assistant is someone who is self-employed, works from their own office, providing administrative support to business owners, or busy people, in any location.
They may provide traditional PA support or specialise in a particular skill such as social media management, book keeping, or an IT system like Mailchimp or WordPress.

Support is usually provided on an hourly basis, by the project, or on an hourly retainer package, which provides great flexibility, especially for small businesses.

Thank you for reading.



The 2-second commute by Christine Durst & Michael Haaren
Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA by Diana Ennen & Kelly Poelker