Are You Utilizing Your Networks Efficiently?

Michele Warg
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For an administrative worker, professional networks are useful for more than job hunting. When utilized correctly, they can also help you become more productive and efficient. With the right communication channels and a thoughtful strategy, you can capitalize on your contacts' industry insight and cultivate a high-performing network.

Utilize Group Communication

One of the most efficient ways to use your professional networks is to set up group communication channels. Create a group text for all of the admin assistants in your building, for example, or set up a private Facebook group for local administrative professionals. When a person has a question or a request, they can post it in one place and receive a variety of answers in minutes. If you're planning an event in another location, look for similar channels for admin workers in that city. They can be invaluable in helping you find information that's not readily available on the internet.

Maintain Diverse Networks

Administrative professionals can be useful sources of information, but it's unwise to rely on them for all of your needs. Avoid over-burdening your fellow admins by maintaining a variety of professional networks. For best results, cultivate groups that are relevant to your regular job duties. If you spend a great deal of time planning business trips for executives, consider attending networking events for travel professionals. A network of entertainment professionals can be useful when you're scheduling events for visiting clients, while professional writers can provide quick formatting and grammar tips when you're drafting emails or reports.

Add Value

Reciprocation is a key part of using your professional networks effectively. Make a point to give at least as much as you get, if not more. Respond quickly to requests, offer your assistance and be generous with your insider knowledge. If possible, try to anticipate the needs of others. If you know that another administrative worker is planning a conference for the first time, send a quick email to provide the name of your most trusted venue or a caterer who always does great work. When your contacts see that you're willing to share your knowledge and information freely, they may be more likely to do the same.

Exercise Discretion

Administrative professionals are often privy to sensitive information about the company and its clients. Your employer trusts you to maintain confidentiality, so it's important to exercise discretion when seeking advice from your professional networks. Before you send a request, consider what it might reveal about your current project. If your boss is attending a top-secret meeting out of town, avoid mentioning travel plans to assistants in the destination city. When it comes to topics that involve privacy — trade secrets, new product lines and volatile negotiations, for example — tread lightly or ask for permission in advance.

Organized, well-maintained professional networks enable you to share and receive information with ease. When you're faced with hard deadlines or challenging administrative tasks, these networks can help you boost productivity and make you an indispensable asset to your company.

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