Have you ever sat at your desk and wondered what the rest of us is up to? Thought about other responsibilities your role could entail? Signed up for several professional newsletters without getting around to reading them?
Until last July, when I dove into a thorough research of profession-related networks (preparation is everything, either you’re an assistant or you’re not). My quest led me to the casual summer drink of EUMA, short for European Management Assistants. I showed up with a no strings attached stance, but never left. Here are five wins I obtained by joining the networking game.
Win #1: time
Move over Google and TripAdvisor: my fellow network members have become my go to. I spend way less time researching upscale hotels, decent event venues or unique team building activities. Instead, I’m only a WhatsApp or phone call away from the perfect fit. Most members have several black books stored in their top drawer – and even in case of any blank pages, they always know someone who knows somebody.
Win #2: perspective
Our resumes all demonstrate different titles, and our job content turns out to be equally diverse. Some of us try to get our boss’s washing machine fixed at 5 PM on a Friday, others found internal training networks or organize events for over 5000 guests – on their own. It proves the outlook of an assistant position is adaptable, rather than outlined for those with ambition. In the meantime, my contacts help me grow my network outside of the assistant industry. As my mother always says: keep your eyes open.
Win #3: confidence
No, it's not just you: assistants are a special breed. Eyes of an eagle, ears of an owl, nose of a dog. Quiet observers who do speak their mind. My fellow members flipped through the pages of my personality with an impressive ease. They even brought traits to the table my own mirror had never shown me. The beauty of it: they immediately spotted my strengths and encourage me to focus on those. Our breed understands the importance of feeling valued better than anyone.
Win #4: continuity
Many organizations propose an expensive one-day training to immerse us in tactics or the latest technical tools related to our profession. Even as a student, I was an excellent minute taker, but I hardly reach back to those notebooks filled with topics or formulas that eventually lost their relevancy. A network, however, focuses on continuous development – for the price of a pair of shoes. Monthly events relating to an annual theme put the pieces of a puzzle together. Plus, touching base with other members regularly allows me to establish long(er)-standing relationships with them. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Win #5: travel
One of the perks of an international network is it actually gets you to places. Last October, I flew to Copenhagen for meetings and a training on personal development. My traveler's soul got lucky and savored some city sights in between. During coffee breaks and elevator rides, I mingled with members who were clearly on a common growth mission, in spite of their differing cultures and backgrounds. EUMAsters: open-minded students and inspiring teachers at the same time.