Who am I?

Who am I?

Who am I? When you work for a private individual it can be complicated defining your role in their life. As well as dealing with all the usual challenges, much depends on their personal situation, and how that reflects on what is required. Working the way I do, I am usually in a client’s home, so the relationship is very different to being office based. Looking back over many years and many clients I have identified a few categories.

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The Practically Perfect PA Advisory Panel

The Practically Perfect PA Advisory Panel

Practically Perfect PA has now been up and running for 5 years. Over that time, I have seen the blog grow and grow and grow! There are now over 11,000 of you signed up to the blog posts and newsletters and we attract over 90,000 visitors each month on the website. That’s a lot of people! I still do the bulk of the work, which I absolutely bloody love, but sometimes a gal needs a little help! So, at the beginning of this year I asked a few assistants who I think are fantastic to sit on The Practically Perfect PA Advisory Panel and… Well… Advise me on areas of the blog, the industry and stuff that they think you guys will like to know.

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Career development for Assistants: 5 common problems and how to solve them

Career development for Assistants: 5 common problems and how to solve them

Recently, the OpenMeet team had the pleasure of participating in the annual Practically Perfect PA Assist Conference 2017, where we ran a few workshops on career development for assistants: 5 common problems and how to solve them. This is the second of three blogs that we are producing based on all the great information and feedback we got from our workshop participants. Read the first one, on what to look for in an event supplier, and watch out for the third and final blog, on how to ensure organisations value PA work!

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Need a fresh start this Easter?

Need a fresh start this Easter?

I don’t know about you, but I love Easter and not just because of the chocolate consumption! For me, I see Easter as the proper start of the year. The first months of the year always fly by in a blur of dark nights, rain and layers of clothing. When Easter arrives, it is warmer, the days are longer, spring has kinda sprung and I can start to think about the year ahead with a little more focus. Easter is as good a time as any to start thinking about your life choices, what you have going on and what you want to achieve for the rest of the year. If you aren’t on the right path now is as good a time to change it as any, right? Do you need a fresh start this Easter? This blog is all about giving you a little inspiration before you head off on the long weekend.

We all have bad days…

But better days are just ahead… Once you’ve finished that second Easter Egg.

The good thing about fresh starts is that they can start whenever you like.

And if you aren’t too sure, fake it till you make it

 

Or at the very least

Here’s to fresh starts people and lots and lots of hot crossed buns. Happy Easter from Practically Perfect PA.

Using networks to get stuff done

Using networks to get stuff done

Just last week I was reminded how brilliant PAs are at using networks to get stuff done. I’m lucky to be a member of a direct messaging group on Twitter made up of some very awesome and proactive assistants. I was on the website the other day and noticed that I had a load of new messages flashing away. When I took a quick peek I saw that one of the PAs had messaged the others to ask if they knew any courier services that could deliver to Germany over the weekend. It was a bit of a tricky and really urgent request. Within the space of an hour the assistant had the contact details for a courier service and had resolved the issue. I can only imagine how impressed her boss was! It showed me how powerful assistants can be when they tap into their networks. We don’t have the answers to everything (although often our organisations think that we do!) but with the help of other assistants we can basically rule the world! So how do we ensure our networks are there to help us get stuff done? Here are a few tips:

Top tips: Using Networks to get stuff done

Get to know your network

Assistants have access to many networks that can help with various aspects of the role. It is important to get to know the people within the networks. If you can all put a face to a name it really helps. If you can get out and about, attend networking events and get to know other assistants this really helps. If you are more of a social network kinda assistants ensure you like, share and comment on other assistant’s posts. Simply getting to know your contacts will make it easier for you to help each other out.

Give and take – networks need to get stuff from you 

This is really important. If someone in your network asks for help and you can help – do! If you have a great supplier that you can share with your network or any advice, training suggestions or something that you have implemented that works sharing this knowledge don’t hold back from sharing the information. Your network might not need that contact now, but it might come in handy another time. Giving back is the number one rule to networking!

Don’t beat around the bush – get stuff done quickly

We are a busy bunch and I think most assistants would prefer a straightforward conversation. If you need help, ask for it up front. This is one of the reasons we network in the first place! We get asked questions a billion times a day from colleagues so we are pretty used to sharing our knowledge and helping other people out. Don’t be shy! Your network will have the answers and if they don’t, they probably know someone who does!

Don’t rule people out – they have networks too! 

Assistants deal with all manner of issues so actually our knowledge is pretty widespread and our networks can be really big. So don’t rule people out because you don’t think they will be able to help – you never know and it is always worth asking the question. It is also well worth being a little creative with your networks. Try to network with people who might be able to help in certain areas. For example, I always found the post room staff to be incredibly helpful when I needed details for a new supplier – they see parcels, packages and couriers bringing new products in and out of the office all day long. They knew all kinds of stuff!

Assistants are naturally good networks, you might not think it, but we are! The nature of our role means we come in contact with lots of different people, companies and suppliers and we generally are pretty helpful types! So next time you need something remember using networks to get stuff done will help no end.

How to make a bad first impression better

How to make a bad first impression better

Last year I wrote a blog about how assistants should always try to make a really great first impression. You never know who you will end up working with, or for, so it is important that you take the time to make that first contact memorable for all the right reasons. Saying that, everyone has their off days and you can’t be ‘on’ 24/7. We’ve all made bad first impressions. But it is important, especially in business, to be able to make a bad first impression better! Here are a few tips:

Opinions are pretty fluid

People change their mind all the time. Try not to worry too much if you messed up the first time you met someone just try to be a little more like your amazing self the next time you meet them…. And a few more times after that. According to a Harvard study, it will take eight subsequent positive encounters to change that person’s negative opinion of you. So if you really do need this person to think well of you be on tip top form every chance you get in their company. 

Fess up

If you did something really bad when you first met someone then honesty is probably the best policy. Take the person aside, hold your hands up and tell them that you weren’t having the best day and that actually you are pretty ace once they get to know you. Honesty goes a long way so don’t avoid the person for the rest of your professional life. Have a quick conversation, nip it in the bud, fess up.

Follow up with an email

The saying goers ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ and in this case you might find it easier to email your way into a better relationship. I can have bad days where I am socially awkward, I think most of us can, but I can be incredibly gregarious over email. Follow up any bad first impression with a lovely email expressing your joy in meeting that person and you might just save the day.

Accept that not everyone is going to like you

Losers! No, seriously, not everyone is going to realise how great you are. Sometimes you have to accept their opinion and move on. They may change their mind once they realise you know everything there is to know about the running of your office, but until then deal with them on a basic level.

Technology of the week: Slack

Technology of the week: Slack

Technology of the week: Slack

What is Slack?

Slack is the fastest growing office application in history. Only in its second year it has over half a million users and is currently doubling its numbers every 3 months. That is a lot of users! Slack is an instant messenger service that allows teams to communicate with each other over a number of platforms (website, phone, tablet etc.)

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