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Maximizing the Benefits of Networking

Julia Schmidt, June 2016

The Best Networking Begins with Planning and Taking Action

You have finally decided which training event you will attend, your executive has agreed on funding the costs, and you are looking forward to networking and learning as much as possible during the two-day conference.

Do you think this will be enough to get the best of attending the event?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question.  However, for your networking and learning to be effective, you need first to be clear on what you want to achieve from attending the training and networking event. You have to find your goals and create a strategy.

I attended Executive Secretary LIVE in London for the third time this year. This event is a great arena to learn, share knowledge and network.

The networking goals

When I decided to attend my first Executive Secretary Live in London, three years ago, I was looking to expand my sharing and learning community, and to find people who could help me solve work issues. Today, three years on, I have a powerful network and am connected with approximately 800 executive assistants from a range of different countries.  My goals were strictly related to learning, sharing and building relationships.

Focusing on the benefits of networking, you could choose your goals from this list:

  • Boost your professional profile
  • Generate new business for your company
  • Find answers and solutions to your work issues
  • Build your own sharing and learning community
  • Find a new job

My networking goals

As I joined the annual event for the third time, I knew I would have the opportunity to strengthen relationships with those I had met before. My goals were:

  • Spend time separately with four peers and talk about relevant topics we started discussing via social media
  • Be mentored by an experienced peer who is a senior lecturer, mentor and speaker
  • Write a report about the event and publish it on LinkedIn
  • Establish a professional relationship with at least three new assistants
  • Go back to work with at least one new idea to be implemented in the workplace

The networking strategy

To have people interested in entering your network, you need to communicate your personal brand, be visible and strongly influence people. The reality is that people want to meet people that can generate opportunities. A powerful networking strategy will always contain a mixture of ways to connect with new people.

When meeting people, I am always genuine and authentic. I circulate and avoid staying a long time with the same people. I listen to their stories, ask open questions and offer support.  I write down their names and the topics I had discussed with them. I read the delegate list and tick the names of assistants I had spent time with. I write down my impressions regarding people.

What I bring home after each event has to be much more than goodie bags. I want to bring with me smiles, stories, faces, friends, potential friendships, potential clients and new ideas to improve my work performance.

The networking action plan

A plan turns your strategy into actions. To accomplish my goals, I have created an action plan:

  • Connect via LinkedIn with all assistants I meet at Exec Sec LIVE. Categorize them by adding a tag “Exec Sec LIVE”
  • Follow up the connections regularly on social media by reading, commenting and sharing their posts and tweets
  • Strengthen relationships via Skype to exchange information, mentoring and best practices
  • Publish relevant posts about the Administrative profession
  • Promote Executive Secretary LIVE as a great learning, sharing and networking arena
  • Before each event, contact via social media the assistants and speakers I have met before to tell that them I will be attending the event again. Schedule chats with them.
Your network is your personal asset. Be authentic, be engaged, keep the relationship warm and help other people attain their goals.