As the Halloween decorations are being put away and the menu for Thanksgiving is being drafted, an even more all-encompassing season will soon be knocking on our door: the winter holidays! With them comes abundant opportunities for networking and making / renewing relationships in both your work and personal sphere. Because not everyone jumps for joy at these chances, here are some tips for coming out of the season unscathed and will success!
The old adage of just showing up applies. If networking makes you nervous or you clam up upon walking in a room of new people, simply doing that over and over again will make it (eventually!) become like second nature. And the odds are there will be at least a few other people there that do not have a room full of deep relationships, so finding these people will make you instantly more comfortable.
Did you watch the game last night?
Kicking off a conversation with a light topic and one that is on the minds of most people will allow conversation to flow and a rapport to build. Being mindful of regional sports as well as topics like current events and cultural shows such as musicals or plays in the area will help as you can offer up these topics as a starting point to a conversation with someone new.
I work at __________.
Having an elevator-type pitch of yourself in terms of where you work and what your job title and functions are will not only help connect you to other people but will simultaneously improve your speaking skills. This shouldn’t come across as self-aggrandizing but rather as a brief and specific snapshot of yourself and what your functions could offer other people. Do you work in retail? Explain upcoming sales and promotions. Working in performing arts? Rattle off a few acts that will be of interest to the general public. The more you explain your profession and strong points of your company, the tighter and more nuanced your elevator pitch will become. Over time, you may walk in the door looking forward to offering your elevator pitch instead of focusing on your nerves of networking!
Too often people get interrupted by someone constantly steering the conversation back to themselves. Don’t be a conversation hog. Instead, let conversation flow between yourself and other people naturally. That ebb and flow will translate to different topics and maybe to different people as attendees come and go. By being attentive and actively listening, this will allow you to pick up on the likes, dislikes, and nuggets of information people offer about themselves that will pay you back in dividends as not only the event progresses, but time in general.
Remember and engage.
Those likes and dislikes that people offered about themselves? By remembering, you have a list of reasons to contact someone in the future. Upcoming networking event you want to see who will be in attendance? Reach out to the people you became friendly with! The state baseball team won the qualifying game that person mentioned they love? Send a congratulatory email! The restaurant chain that that person mentioned they dislike opened a location near you? Send a snarky email to that person to keep the repour going so you can both laugh! This way, a relationship will continue to solidify and once you steer your contacts towards matters of work, you won’t seem like a sales call or stock email sender.
Basic Scope of an Executive Assistant’s Duties:
- Serve as gatekeeper to executive with both people and information
- Manage communication and correspondence with a highs sense of confidentiality
- Timely alert executive with relevant news, updates and messages
- Manage complex calendar, meetings and itineraries
- Serve as host to visitors of the office
- Manage transportation and trip details as well as updates and changes
- Manage finances by drafting expense report and other necessary financial reporting
- Think ahead and present suggestions and tips to executive to ensure seamless flow of daily tasks
What are the usual requirements of an Executive Assistant?
- Bachelor’s degree, dependent on the organization
- Strong written and verbal skills
- Strong organization and resourcefulness
- Ability to think on your feet and be a problem solver with minimum instruction
- Sense of decorum and confidentiality
- Strong ability to multi-task and be proactive
- Software and other technical skills will vary depending on the organization but often include Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook
- Flexibility to work after hours and be reachable when necessary
How does an Executive Assistant differ from an Administrative Assistant?
An Executive Assistant has an enhanced role and directly supports an executive of the company as the first point of contact for the executive’s office. The scope of duties is often more complex and rigorous and focused on one executive, as opposed to an Administrative Assistant supporting more than one person. The Executive Assistant is also privy to a larger scope of sensitive and confidential information about the organization and executive and will need to exhibit a high degree of decorum and professionalism at all times. Depending on the organization, an Executive Assistant may mentor and or supervise Administrative Assistants within the same department as the executive.
What education is usually required or most beneficial?
This all depends on the organization itself and the type of industry but generally speaking, a Bachelor’s Degree is usually preferred or required. If the job description notes that a degree is required, there is typically no room for negotiation. In terms of specific areas of study, all education can be relevant and useful if presented the correct way. If a candidate has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and applies for an Executive Assistant role at an accounting firm, that will be of interest to the employer. If a candidate is a recent graduate with a Bachelor’s in English and conveys strong writing ability and communication skills in the interview, that is relevant and helpful.
What is a typical salary range?
Salary can vary greatly depending on the organization and industry. For example, a nonprofit will pay a lot less than a law firm or financial sector organization. What a candidate should keep in mind when considering salary is how the overall quality of life will be in the position relative to the salary, such as benefits, commute, etc.
What will give me an edge when interviewing for an Executive Assistant role?
Prior Executive Assistant experience is always helpful and a plus, but the necessary qualities and characteristics of the position must be conveyed in the interview. Supplying these through exact examples of past experiences and work product is the goal. With such a key position as this, oftentimes personality, presentation and demeanor are as important as technical skills. If the executive doesn’t feel he or she can trust you with sensitive information, you will not be offered the role.