Admin. Professionals’ Day Redux: Branding and Lending a Hand

IAAP trade show Copyright Shelagh DonnellyLast week, I offered my conflicting thoughts on the merits of the occasions known as Admin. Professionals’ Week and Day. I raised the question of whether those of us in this profession are content with the status quo, greeting card mentality toward the work we do, or whether we want to build on IYOTSA 2014 and international efforts to elevate the profile of this career.

So, it was with mixed feelings that I approached Vancouver’s Trade and Convention Centre just before 7:00 a.m. last Wednesday for a celebratory breakfast meeting hosted by the Vancouver Chapter of the IAAP, the International Association of Administrative Professionals. While pleased to have carved out a bit of time away from the office to connect with friends and colleagues, and in such a great locale, I was well aware that there would be subsequent juggling in order to keep up with demands during what was already a full week. Like many, I have an aversion to wasting time on meetings that are insubstantial  in nature – but am glad to report that such was not the case with this meeting. On the contrary.

How so? It began with the accompanying trade show, with businesses whose leaders recognise the influence admin. professionals wield over purchasing decisions.

Wise people, since the IAAP concluded, following its 2013 survey, that assistants either determine or influence $240 million in corporate spending annually.

Helping Others Dress for Success

Kali Dean and Ida Lofti at the Dress for Success Vancouver table

Kali Dean and Ida Lofti of Dress for Success Vancouver

One table in particular caught my eye. Here, among those seeking to create new partnerships, were Kali Dean and Ida Lofti, hosting the Dress for Success Vancouver table. Their product was unique among others, in that Dean and Lofti were graciously promoting the ongoing opportunity to donate gently used clothing and purses – or other resources. Resources that could support women who were, even as we were enjoying good company and spirits, struggling to gain or regain a foothold in the world of the gainfully employed.

Women turn to Dress for Success, a non-profit with 125 affiliates in a number of countries, for tutorials, lectures and mentoring intended to support employability – and for suits and other clothing appropriate for job interviews. During the breakfast meeting, assistants heard directly from an empowered and employed speaker who, after a job loss, benefitted from a 2006 referral to Dress for Success – so much so that she is now a member of that body’s Professional Women’s Group.

 Branding 101: Making, Marketing and Managing Your Personal Brand

Doris Bentley, CHRP - Building Your Brand

Doris Bentley, CHRP – Building Your Brand

Those who read Exceptional EA regularly know of my interest in how establishing and refining one’s personal brand, or reputation, can impact our careers.

Doris Bentley, founder and Managing Director of Centrepoint Career Management Ltd., offered pragmatic and meaningful insights on why and how assistants should be interested in making, marketing and managing their own personal brands, which Bentley characterises as individuals’ differentiators.

How to build or refine your personal brand? Here are Bentley’s suggestions for areas of self reflection.

Credibility

  • Have you secured the credentials you need?
  •  Do you maintain currency of skills, knowledge and industry or sector trends?
  • Do you provide your perspective, and do your questions reflect insight?

Trust

  • Are you reliable, and do you follow through on commitments?
  • Do you step up to bat even when the going gets tough?
  • Do you honour confidences, and communicate courageously? Do you, as I wrote about in an earlier article, speak truth to power?

Visibility

  • Do you contribute to, and collaborate within, your organisation? Do you volunteer for projects or initiatives?
  • Do you strive to establish new relationships, while also nurturing existing networks?

Bentley encourages care in one’s approach to visibility; if you’re the assistant who regularly brings in treats for your colleagues, or cleans up unnecessarily after the rest of the crowd, be aware that such gestures constitute elements of your personal brand. What do you want people to think of when an opportunity arises: your baking, or your administrative skills?

The morning included more insights on progressing from establishing one’s personal brand to marketing and, critically, managing it. In walking the attentive crowd through approaches to marketing one’s self, Bentley raised the importance of distinguishing between social media networks and personal networks. All those assistants out there who consciously refrain from engaging in social media outside the workplace may feel satisfaction in Bentley’s assertion that it’s those people with whom you personally network who may be best positioned to serve as references.

Kudos to the IAAP Vancouver Chapter

Generosity of spirit, conveyed in a respectful manner that is supportive of individuals’ dignity, was the order of the day. Also on full display were event sponsors’ generosity and astute judgement, as more than a few of the female and male participants  strolled away with lovely door prizes.

Kudos to event Chair and IAAP Vancouver Chapter Vice President Jill Goertzen, a skilled MC, and team, for they established a tone and agenda that resonated, not only with this writer, but with a room full of counterparts from around metro Vancouver.

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