Separated by Connections: Using your professional network to stand out

Do you know how to use networking to create career opportunities? Networking is more important to your professional development than ever before: In this blog we explore  the importance of networking and growing your professional circle, as well as who should be in that circle and how to make the best connections. 

To reap your business network’s benefits, you must first figure out who to fill it with. Then, you need to utilize social opportunities and technology to grow your circle.


Who should be in your professional circle?


The goal is to cover all of the bases in your administrative position and prove yourself indispensable. An article in the online magazine Executive Secretary entitled Build the Strongest Network Ever states, “Building the strongest business network means you have access or contacts in all the areas we rely upon as assistants: travel, IT, project management, meeting planning, business writing, social media, AI, HR issues, finance, and many more.” 


For any Administrative Professional, building a network filled with people in all sorts of industries is vital. Ensure you know more than one person to call if the computer, phone, or tablet is not working correctly. Before traveling, research businesses near you that can quickly ship a new device to you and keep it for future emergencies. It is also handy to befriend tech-savvy people who can also keep you updated on the latest productivity programs and applications.


Executive Assistants are nominally responsible for planning and managing events and important meetings. A good portion of your network will include food, entertainment, venue, and party vendors for this reason. It is also essential to remember guests with different needs like alternative meals due to food allergies or special seating for disabled individuals and to include professionals or consultants specializing in such accommodations in your contact list. 


Use your discretion and make a list of the places you most commonly need to go for work. Do not forget international locations where you may benefit from knowing a translator or transportation. It will also be easier to find answers specific to your position if you keep up with other people with the same title at different companies. They may even share some of their reliable contacts with you. Last but certainly not least, keep an emergency contact list of individuals from the family and friends of your boss and the team members you work with the most.


How do I form a professional relationship with my progressing circle?


To fill your professional circle with the correct people, you must exercise your networking and communication skills in social environments, both online and in person. Old fashion face-to-face networking is very effective but is difficult with the global pandemic. Thankfully, there are many resources you can use virtually.


Twitter is a great way to meet professionals from different industries if you need anything from a technology expert to a catering contact for an event you are planning. Connecting with a wide variety of professionals from other companies can also be done through LinkedIn. To find individuals who understand what your daily experience at work is like, Administrative or Executive Assistants, join as many Facebook Groups and Meetup groups as you can. Maybe start your own. Keep these essential contacts by “paying it forward” as a blog post entitled 17 Executive Assistant Skills In 2021 For Insane Effectiveness on explains, “If you’re browsing an online board or attending an event and hear of another EA in need, offer your services immediately.”


If your new connection is near you, ask them to have coffee and exchange tips and tricks. Be safe and wear a mask, of course, during these times. Many Executive Assistants have the advantage of being around many professionals from different departments because they work directly under management. Take advantage of your position and make as many lunch dates with as many people as you can. Try not to leave without their contact information. You can also safely attend events and webinars targeted towards professionals in diverse fields you can make use of in your overflowing contact list for any emergency imaginable. Many are online. If you find some meetings you must go to in person, you can always do so safely through social distancing and, the proper use of personal protection equipment.


It takes a village to properly raise a child and a strong business network to maintain a successful Administrative or Executive Assistant.

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer