If you’d told me three years ago that I’d soon be counting South African superstar Anel Martin, American Renegade Kemetia Foley and Milan’s warm and elegant Vania Alessi of Secretary.IT fame among my valued network, I think I’d have been bemused. How would we have met? While we’re at it, don’t forget other fellow leaders such as Executive Secretary’s Lucy Brazier, EPAA’s Victoria Darragh and the good people at Office Dynamics, and you can see how the scope of my network has grown.
How did we meet? Primarily through the internet and this blog. Add all the wonderful Real Careers alumni from 20 countries to date, along with readers in 131 (at last count) countries into the network mix, and you can see the potential for enriching one’s outlook.
Giving Back to Your Networks
At this point in 2013, I’d established and nurtured a primarily North American network of peers, individuals and groups I value to this day. As mentioned in recent posts, I’ve just spent a few days at a conference in Québec City. There, I wrapped up a two-year term as Chair of the Board of Directors of a national professional association. I know that many of my readers also lead or actively contribute to one or more professional networks/associations of their own, and the fact is that we gain at least as much by contributing as do those on the receiving end.
Connecting People and Networks
Relishing in the renewed company of friends and peers from across the country at this week’s conference, it was gratifying to see highly positive reactions to our keynote speaker – a most accomplished counterpart I first met at a conference in the US. Participants were keenly focused on our facilitator, who was generous with her expertise and experience.
To me, this positive connecting of peers from different networks was a highlight of the week. Have you given thought to individuals or networks who would benefit from introductions or partnerships? If you belong to a listserv or online forum, do you contribute when other members could benefit from your experience?
I’ve written before about my approach to conferences, and meeting new people and gaining exposure to others’ concepts and best practices. At the same time, I care about and don’t lose sight of the very important people within my existing circles. We know we can turn to one another and receive prompt responses to calls for insights – or a friendly ear.
Going the Extra Mile (Kilometer!)
You know when people are invested in what they do, and in nurturing knowledge exchange and other people. Take Kemetia Foley of AdminRenegade, for example. When I mentioned that I’d be in her neck of the US last month, Kemetia was quick to suggest that we meet for lunch. I was delighted to meet this dynamic and committed pro, and you’ll have seen the pic I tweeted of our meeting. How did this BC gal originally learn of Kemetia, who lives near the US Capitol? Through none other than Anel Martin, who lives more than a couple of oceans away and is generous with introductions.
… and then there’s Vania Allesi, in this picture from our meeting today. Along with her sister Jessica, Vania Alessi is co-founder of SECRETARY.IT, which serves as a professional development resource for Italy’s admin. professionals. Secretary.IT is the inspired entity behind Italy’s Secretary Day and Assistant of the Year. How were Vania and I introduced? Through Carla Stefanut, also of Italy.
While I was in Quebec much of the past few days, Vania was in Vancouver. Arriving back in town last night, I knew I’d be returning to a series of meetings and tasks to be completed by Friday, the day Vania would return to Italy. We had a window of less than 36 hours during which we were both in Metro Vancouver, and Vania (who speaks multiple languages) navigated our transit system from West Vancouver to my New Westminster office. I only hope I’d be so adept in Milano!
You don’t need to cross international borders to make a great impression
You can recommend a book or article, extend an introduction, or do a favour without expectation of reciprocation. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that leave the most lasting impressions. How do you nurture your networks and the people within them?