Networking Leaders: Admin. Professionals Who Are Anything But Insular

With so many insular winds swirling around the globe lately, people might do well to have a look at the world of admin. professionals.

I know many in our career who intentionally expand and nurture their networks and spheres of influence. I’m proud to be associated with the many Real Careers alumni and other readers who cross borders, figuratively and sometimes literally, on a regular basis.

Here are some networking leaders whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person during the past quarter.

Bianca Constance, CAP

Shelagh, Bianca at Zuccotti Park, NYC (2)Many of you will recognise Bianca from her Real Careers interview and from her contributions to my Social Media Panel series.

Yet others will know Bianca from her extensive leadership within IAAP, the International Association of Administrative Professionals. There, she has served as President of both the New York City Chapter and the New York State Division. She served on IAAP’s Board of Directors as an International Director, Northeast District, and has since served as Membership Chair of the New York State Division. Bianca is also one of many who have descended upon Hollywood, Florida this week for the IAAP 2016 Summit. Here’s hoping that all those whose flights were delayed are now settling in to conference mode.

Just last week, Bianca was gracious enough to carve time out of her busy day so that we could meet in person – you’ll see us above, in New York’s lovely Zuccotti Park – when I was in town.

Bonnie Low-Kramen and Vickie Sokol Evans

Vickie Sokol Evans, Bonnie Low-Kramen, Shelagh Donnelly NYC 9129 July 2016It’s a small world for those of us interested in helping people enhance their skills, career satisfaction and networks. Bonnie Low-Kramen and I first connected by email last year, by way of a social media comment and suggestion by networker extraordinaire, Jennifer Corcoran. It was the shared interests of Jennifer, Kerry Dawson and Bonnie (networkers from different cities and even countries) that led to my May 2016 Weekend Poll on bullying in the workplace. 

On learning I’d be in New York this month, Bonnie promptly invited me to stop by as an observer at the final Be The Ultimate Assistant workshop before the Fall, when she and Vickie Sokol Evans will take their highly relevant training sessions to Seattle and then back to London. Vickie, a Microsoft-certified trainer, is CEO of Red Cape Company and delivers cost-saving (and frustration-reducing!) technology training with humour.

Both Bonnie and Vickie are bestselling authors, and I saw for myself just how effectively they connect with and support their audience. I was delighted to accept Bonnie’s invitation, and readily committed to what amounted to a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call Vancouver time the morning after we arrived in New York.

Vania Alessi and  Kemetia Foley

Vania Allesi, in this picture (photo at left, above) from our June 2016 meeting, knows how to build and nurture networks. 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. How were Vania and I introduced? Through Carla Stefanut, also from Italy. Vania arrived in Vancouver in late May, while I was away at a conference, and was due to return to Italy barely 36 hours after my return from Quebec City. 

Did that stop us from meeting? Of course not. While it meant Vania navigating her way on public transit in a new country less than 24 hours before her return home, and I was up to my eyeballs in work, we jumped on the opportunity to deepen our already existing electronic friendship.

Kemetia Foley (photo at right, above) works full time and publishes AdminRenegade in between presenting to regional, national and international audiences. 

You know when people are invested in what they do, and in nurturing knowledge exchange and other people. That’s what Kemetia does, often with humour. She tweeted me on learning I’d be in DC this Spring. While we both knew of each other beforehand and I respected her work, it was our lunch in Alexandria that served as the basis of what I hope will be a long term friendship. 

You  Needn’t Travel To Nurture Your Network

All right. While at least three of these people travel routinely, in-person meetings with these four pros have yet to happen – but I suspect it won’t be long.

Lucy Brazier and I share a passion for what we write and talk about. As CEO of Marcham Publishing, she publishes Executive Secretary Magazine and she is Executive Secretary Live, a conference she hosts in London and internationally. Lucy is incredible at networking and, even while ostensibly on holiday, she has her finger on the pulse of all people and things admin. I dropped her a note earlier this week to ask for an address. Seeing Lucy’s out-of-office reply, I began looking elsewhere for the info I was seeking, but should have known better. Why? A friendly note from Lucy, along with the info I was seeking, was in my “in” box less than two hours later. Matthew Want, who is EA to Lucy, is also a highly effective networker. For the thousands who already subscribe to Lucy’s publication, watch for my article in the July 2016  issue of Executive Secretary Magazine.

Brazzill, Jane - EnglandJane Brazzill, whom you’ll recognise from her Real Careers interview, is in the photo at right. It’s Jane who thought to flag for Bonnie Low-Kramen and me that we’d be in the same city at the same time. A tweet from Jane, and in no time at all Bonnie extended her invitation that we meet up in New York City. I find that this is typical of Jane. She keeps in touch with, and consistently encourages, those in her circles without thought of personal gain – as do many of my readers. I’ve also learned that prompt responses are typical of Bonnie. You know she’s invested in her relationships, and generous with her time.

Victoria Darragh, founder and Chief Executive of EPAA, the Executive and Personal Assistants Association, is also championing constructive change for career administrative professionals. Despite being a few time zones apart, we touched base by phone last month to discuss some of the significant and exciting initiatives she and her Regional and General Advisory Boards are undertaking alongside networks within and beyond the UK.

Anel Martin’s network stems from South Africa, but her influence is international. Along with her friends and peers whom I also admire, Anel was one of the leaders of IYOTSA2014It’s Anel who e-introduced me to a number of the pros I interviewed early on for this website. Now, Anel has transitioned from being an admin. professional to travelling her continent and far beyond to present to, coach and inspire administrative professionals.

Demographics and borders not an issue

In years past, many people tended to cluster with others with whom they shared similarities. Like-minded people. Social media, however, has helped smash barriers of age, gender, educational and particularly geographic backgrounds. Just imagine the extent of how we can enrich our knowledge base and perspectives simply by connecting with people outside our safe, internal circles.

Nor do you need to be an extrovert to grow your network

While a number of the people I’ve mentioned here today are extroverts or ambiverts, we know that this isn’t any kind of prerequisite for forging connections and strong networks. There are introverts among the group, as well, and social media is a strong tool for anyone wishing to deepen their sphere of influence, professional expertise and support. 

You do need to be genuine

… and invest your energy in supporting others in your network, without counting favours or expecting anything in return. What can you do? Extend an introduction. Identify a career or educational opportunity. Vet a CV. Call or send a note about a relevant book or article you’ve read, or lend out that book. Your gestures needn’t be extravagant to be meaningful; they simply need to be genuine. How do you nurture your networks?

2 Comments on “Networking Leaders: Admin. Professionals Who Are Anything But Insular

  1. Thank you so much Shelagh – I’m honoured to be mentioned in this post and hopefully one day when I visit my brother in Vancouver I will also catch up with you too – it really is a small world! If you are ever in London please hollar – you will have a lot of happy Assistants wanting to catch up with you.

    • You’re very welcome, Jennifer. I’d love to welcome you when you visit Vancouver. Agreed; it is a small world and we’ve been discussing how to get Bonnie here, as well.

      Thanks for your kind words on a London welcome. I’ve been three times before, but those visits were all before my blogging days. I do hope to have occasion to visit and catch up with you and all my wonderful readers/friends!

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