Tony K Silver on how to make your LinkedIn profile sing v mumble!

Date: Friday 1 May 2020

Speaker: Tony K Silver

Business: Solid Solutions Solutions

Topic: 5 Top Tips – LinkedIn profiles

Your LinkedIn profile can be your best friend – working tirelessly in the background to promote you,…or your worst enemy – undermining all your good work by presenting a poor online impression.

Here are 5 top tips from Tony to ensure your LinkedIn profile makes the right sort of noise:

1. Your banner tells your story

  • Your LinkedIn banner is the editable space behind your profile photo – it’s about 30% of what anybody sees on screen when they first log on to your profile.
  • Use your banner to help tell your story, reinforce your image, or to amuse your reader.
  • Above all, use your banner to help people understand what you do and how well you do it.

2. Headshots not mugshots

  • Smile – be approachable, this isn’t a passport photo!
  • However, remember it should be a headshot, not a bodyshot, so you’ll be recognisable on mobile devices
  • Avoid looking disinterested – slouching, hands in pockets…etc.

3. Job Description – think ‘Why?’ not ‘What?’

  • “I’m an Executive Assistant at Alpha Network Solutions….”
  •  So what? What can you do for me? Why should I want to connect with you?
  • This could become: “Executive Assistant – 25+ years of experience supporting CEOs, Presidents, VPs, Directors & other key leaders.”

4. Put yourself in your reader’s armchair

  • The first 3 lines of your profile belong to the viewer
  • Don’t begin every sentence with “I…”

5. Post creatively

  • Use questions to draw in other readers: “Do you agree it’s a good idea that…”
  • Tag other people for comment (pre-warn them that you’re going to do this first)

Tanya Dickinson on why to use a VA over a PA?

Date: Friday 1 May 2020

Speaker: Tanya Dickinson

Business: Platinum PA

Topic: : Why use a VA over a PA?

In these ever-changing times when social distancing and remote working have become the norm, the advantages of VAs (Virtual Assistants = online) over PAs (Personal Assistants = physical) has become even more pronounced.

As a reminder, here are 3 key benefits a VA can offer your business:

1. PAYG (Pay as You Go)

  • With cashflow and workflow proving more difficult to predict, a traditional PA represents a fixed cost and commitment for your business.
  • By comparison, VAs work flexibly as & when you require their services.
  • That means no recruitment, tax or National Insurance costs.

2. Social Distancing

  • The notion of a physical office for all employees was already being challenged pre-COVID 19.
  • In this ‘new world’, being able to work remotely and at a distance has become mandatory
  • VAs are accustomed to managing dynamic workflows and working from their own premises

3. Outsource & upskill

  • VAs usually have their own unique set of skills, aside from the usual word processing, spreadsheeting and presentation competencies; e.g. invoicing, expenses and purchase ledger management
  • Also, VAs are usually great networkers with an extensive book of contacts, so if there is a particular job you need, a VA should probably be your first port of call!


Having worked as a PA across a wide range of industries (financial, retail, pharmaceutical) I understand what businesspeople need and how to deliver it effectively.

There isn’t a one size fits all – everybody’s requirements and ways of working are different, which is where a VA such as myself fit in nicely!

Sally Hindmarch on Your Virtual Self – Creating the Right Impression

Date: Fri 17th April 2020

Speaker: Sally Hindmarch

Business: Partners with you

Topic: Online presentation tips

1. Set-up: “Can I be seen and what can I see?”

  • Lighting – have a window in front of you, not behind.
  • Background – avoid dirty laundry and household items; if in doubt, have a wall behind you, or even better, set up a Virtual Background to promote your business (if applicable).
  • Practise – set yourself up on a Virtual Meeting beforehand to check how you look.
  • Camera position – raise your PC to eye-level; a view up your nose is never a good one!
  • Clothing – avoid bright whites/all blacks (cameras have difficulty picking this up).

Oh, and do wear clothes! Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you can work in nightwear…or no wear at all!

2. Sound: “Can I be heard clearly?”

Don’t just rely on your microphone – practise your diction and clarity beforehand with a few verbal warm-up exercises such as:

“Unique New York”

“Red lorry, Yellow lorry”

“Ken Dodd’s dad’s dog is dead”

[Note: no animals were harmed in the making of this rhyme].

3. Etiquette: “Would my onscreen etiquette be permissible face-to-face?”

  • Don’t peer into the screen – it looks weird!
  • Don’t eat on camera – drinking tea/coffee is usually OK…alcohol less so in a business environment).
  • Follow the agenda – however, if there isn’t one, normal etiquette prevails; i.e. MUTE yourself when not talking, stick to the agreed timings…etc.
  • Ask permission – e.g. if you need to turn off the camera to preserve bandwidth.


It’s easy to forget yourself when you’re sitting at home in front of your computer, since this is very normal.

However, just remember that you’re on camera and effectively not in your own home but on show to all!

Emma Hollings on Photo Efficiency – Recognise, Recall, Recycle

Date: Friday 1st May 2020

Speaker: Emma Hollings

Business: EH Photography Services

Topic: Self-Promotion

1. Photo Efficiency – Recognise, Recall, Recycle

“Your outfit needs to be recognisable in a busy coffee shop”

  • Find an outfit that captures your personality and helps you to stand out from the crowd
  • You need to wear something you are comfortable with and will make you want to use & share your photographs

2. Recall – Social Media crossover: public to personal

“All that visibility work is really paying dividends” [Photo Profile client]

  • Use your personal profile to promote your private business
  • It’s not all about hard sell, especially during lockdown when so many businesses are struggling for money
  • Consider putting out ‘Top Tips’ or ‘How To Guides’ for your area of expertise – if people have learnt from you, experience shows that they will come back to you at a later date

3. Recycle – Don’t rewrite, recycle your content

  • The Pyramid Effect
    • Extract the audio from a video and you can make a podcast
    • Divide the audio into sections and you can have 3-5 blogs
    • Highlight key phrases from the blogs and you can have 5-10 social media posts
  • Match the photos to the appropriate content

Matt Wright: Top 10 Tips for Motivating Yourself when Home-working

Speaker: Matt Noble Wright
Business: Nobleword Copywriting
Topic: Working from Home

Week 2 of Quarantine and the novelty of working from home full-time starting to wear off a little?

Motivation lagging and good intentions going by the wayside?

Remind yourself of these 10 Tips for Motivating Yourself at Home.

  1. Have a schedule
    • Organise your day as if you have to get up to go to work
  2. Get dressed
    • “When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear,’ so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.” – Karen Pine (professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire)
  3. Don’t work where you sleep
    • It helps with a delineation between work and play
  4. Exercise
    • Being sedentary isn’t just harmful for your health, it’s terrible for your motivation and discipline; exercise gives you a boost of energy that’s incredibly helpful for productivity
  5. Earn Rewards
    • Rather than binge-watching box sets and putting off any work until the evening, use tv as a reward in the evening
    • For smaller blocks of time, use micro-rewards; e.g. an hour of work = 10 minutes on a video game
  6. Mute Social Media
    • That little “bong” message noise will instantly jolt you out of thinking about whatever you’re supposed to be working on.
    • Either hide your phone or mute it
  7. Get Outside
    • When working from home, your house or apartment can become your bunker; it’s a safe spot that has everything you need, so why should you ever bother leaving?
    • Your body needs sunlight (easier said than done in the UK much of the year…) and getting outside (for your scheduled 1-hour per day) will help your mental sanity
  8. Talk to other Human Beings
    • Make up for the lack of actual human contact where you can – adapt, improvise, do anything that forces you to have a conversation or engage with another human
  9. Declare war on Distracting Sites
    • Delete distracting sites (amusing cats…etc) from your favourite bar
  10. Have a side project to fill the dead space
    • Working from home trims all that fat from your workday, so with diligence, a 9-5 job might well turn into a 9-2 job
    • Use the time freed up to take up  a hobby (such as drawing) or starting that book you’d meant to write, or…whatever!

Date: 3rd April 2020

Charles Fraser on Powers of Attorney and the OPG

Date: 6th March 2020
Speaker: Charles Fraser
Business: Longmores Solicitors
Topic: Powers of Attorney and the OPG

“The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) helps people in England and Wales to stay in control of decisions about their health and finance and make important decisions for others who cannot decide for themselves.”


The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is a government body that operates within the framework of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It is the body that registers lasting and enduring powers of attorney, so that people can choose who they want to make decisions for them


Charles recounted a real-life example (no names, dates or anything identifiable!):

  • A widowed woman with dementia had 2 sons.
  • She asked one of the them (together with his wife) to move into her house to help care for her.
  • However, at some point in the future, the other son complained about perceived misallocation/misuse of her funds.
  • There was no Power of Attorney in place at the time, so all of this had been undertaken on an ‘ad hoc’ basis.



Under the rules laid out by the OPG:

1. You have no power to make cash gifts: hence, you can’t allocate yourself any cash arbitrarily whilst looking after somebody.

2. Lifetime gifts (to yourself or other persons) which reduce the value of the estate should be treated with extreme caution; i.e. if you are intending to put a relative in care and expect the council to pay for it, bank statements will be scrutinised and your request could be refused on the grounds of deliberately trying to avoid payment.

3. Application for Power of Attorney can be retrospective, but stops on death.



There are a number of restrictions on what you can and cannot do when you have been granted lasting Power of Attorney…and if you haven’t even applied for it in the first place, you should do so immediately.

Suffice to say that you need to speak to an expert at the earliest opportunity – don’t even go there yourself!

Olly Denhard: Buy cheap, buy twice!

Date: 6th March 2020
Speaker: Olly Denhard
Business: IT Trouble Free
Topic: IT solutions


Olly recounted the story of a real-life client who had run into computing difficulties. They had bought the cheapest computers on the market and, with nobody in charge, had attempted to link them across 6 remote sites using a mishmash of software and with nobody in overall control.


1. Cost-cutting – the policy had been to buy cheapest…regardless!
2. Data issues – data collaboration & ownership were either ill-defined or non-existent.
3. User competency – compromised by a miss mash of different systems running a wide variety of software.


1. PC’s upgraded – it would have been cheaper to have bought better spec PCs at the outset….but hey ho!
2. Office 365 installed across all PCs – with additional training from IT Trouble Free on the tools available (e.g. Microsoft Teams), user connectivity improved drastically.
3. Old data silo’d or destroyed – essential data was transferred over from redundant programmes and non-essential data was deleted so as not to spill over into the new systems.


1. Remote access – users are now able to log on remotely + IT Trouble Free can service, update and provide help remotely.
2. Establishment of a Corporate Data Policy.
3. Site specific storage – with 8 separate offices, an element of flexibility was required storage-wise.


If the company had bought through IT Trouble Free in the first place, they would have saved themselves a lot of grief, lost productivity and (in most likely) a significant sum of money.

Motto: Buy cheap, buy twice…or even more!

If a picture is worth a thousand words…what would a video cost?

Date: 21st February 2020
Speaker: Karen Pawlowska
Business: Take One
Topic: Videography

“I’d really like a video…but I’m sure it would cost too much…wouldn’t it?”

No, it really wouldn’t!

However, seeing is believing, so have a look at these three client videos, which varied in price from £600 to £2,500, and see if you can predict the cost of each? (*)


#1 Animated video

BACKGROUND: If you are a company, and need to explain an idea, or want to educate in a fun way, then animated videos are ideal.

CLIENT: An accounting company wanted to explain the attractions of cloud accounting software, without being too technical and boring.

#2 Standard video

BACKGROUND: A video which utilises your most valuable asset – your staff – means that all the content is already there…we just have to capture it on video.

CLIENT: Take One spent 3 days’ filming volunteers down at Slough Community Project in a 3-minute video to showcase the benefits and results of investing in local community projects. The video was launched at SBCP’s first Congress and then used to promote the partnership on line.

#3 Complex video – with stock images + music

BACKGROUND: When it comes to corporate branding, a video complete with stock images and music will convey a professional image, especially in a competitive market. This project is part of a series of wellbeing programmes for educational professionals and is used to highlight both the challenges and the successes of what they do.

CLIENT: The Art of Brilliance, Brilliant Schools – it took 3 days of planning and 4 days of post-production.

“I love videoing people…I love seeing what makes them tick.”

Karen Pawlowska, Take One

 (*) Not that difficult! Video #1 was the cheapest at £600, and #3 the most expensive at £2,500

Visitors’ Day: They came, they saw, they breakfasted…and will hopefully come back for seconds!

Friday 15th Nov 2019: Cross Reference Visitors’ Day

All networking groups profess themselves to be ‘friendly’…but are they really?

  • Do they go out of their way to welcome visitors (after all, networking groups do always require ‘new blood’)?
  • Do they network with them (sounds basic, but true)?
  • Do they ‘put on a good show’?

Here at Cross Reference, we’d like to think that we live by our values – hence our Visitors’ Days.

We aim to hold 2 of these a year – in Spring and Autumn – to demonstrate what Cross Reference is about and how visitors might benefit from becoming members.


Attendees for Nov-19 Visitors’ Day:

  • Chris Higgs (Travel Consultant) – The Travelling Experience
  • Tanya Dickinson (Virtual PA) – Platinum PA
  • Chris Bantock (Digital Marketeer) – Be Digital
  • James Constable (Solicitor) – BP Collins
  • Andrew Davidson (Windows & Conservatories) – Three Counties Ltd
  • Tom Woodhead (Design & Fit-out) – Image Interior Systems
  • Darren Head (Electrician) – Limitless Electrical
  • Charles McClelland (Business Advisor) – Icon Business Solutions
  • Donna Wilkinson (Business Development Officer) –  Bucks Council

Own your niche

At Cross Reference we have a saying,  ‘Own your niche’, which means 1 person per business in Cross Reference.

However, even if you think your area of expertise might already be covered, please do ask us first as there are often subtle differences between businesses in the same industry. This means that a number of people from the same profession can happily co-exist in Cross Reference; e.g. there are many different types of legal professionals – criminal, divorce, trademark…etc.


Next Visitors’ Day – March/April 2020 – to be announced


Quiz n Chips: The Total raised was…

Quiz n Chips Evening: Friday 8th Nov, Royal British Legion Marlow

Well, what a close-run affair that turned out to be! After 80 questions, including 2 picture rounds, only four points separated the top three teams, with the Brain Sturgeons running out winners by a short head (or a gill?)

Rennie Grove is Cross Reference’s chosen charity and Steve Brehm (Corporate Fundraising Manager for Rennie Grove) spoke for a few minutes before the start of hostilities (I mean the Quiz!) about how important fund-raising is for Rennie Grove and what it helps them to achieve.

With that in mind…drum roll…

Total raised £530.94


So, thanks to all those who attended, to the winners, and in particular, those Cross Reference members who organised the event:

  • Una King (Overall Boss & Cake Sponsor)
  • Matt Wright (Planning, logistics, and general underling)
  • Emma Hollins (Question Mistress and Photography)


Same time again next year?