Win a free place at the Assist Conference 2017

We have a very special giveaway for Practically Perfect PA readers this month.

We are offering one lucky reader the chance to attend the Assist Conference for free. Yes, that is right – a whole day of fantastic training specifically for assistants – completely for free! The conference is taking place on Friday 24th February in London. More information on the programme and the speakers can be found on the Assist Conference website.

To enter the competition please complete the contact form below. Remember to add your contact details so that we can get in touch with the winners. We will announce the winners on the 9th February.

Assist Conference 2017

During the conference, we will be discussing all of the important tools that assistants need to succeed in the role – now and in the next 5 years. Taking place on the 24th February in London for only £300+VAT. If you would like to book your place on the conference, check out the programme or the speakers, please do make your way over to the website.

AC2017_AC2017

Getting buy in from the boss

 

 “Succeeding in business is all about making connections.  Business is all about personal contact. No matter how heavy your workload is… Everyone can and should be a Networker.” Richard Branson

Generation Y makes about 50% of the current workforce.  Millennials belong to a Show and Tell Culture.  This is a culture which embraces tooting your own horn and showcasing your productivity.  I grew up in a different age where working hard and being humble were par for the course for the PA.  There was less sharing of information, silos in place and limited collaboration.

The modern PA must embrace the current culture in order to remain connected, current and relevant.  It is imperative to be proactive about self-promotion in order to showcase your skills, achievements and personal brand.  The role has changed and so must we.

Have the confidence to take the lead, be proactive and have a conversation with your boss.

My top tips before you request Buy-In are:

  1. Adopt your bosses preferred communication style i.e. The language of leadership. The main thing about getting buy in for anything is to speak the language of your boss and company and highlight the ROI (Return on Investment).  Highlight WIFM (what’s in it for me) and help them to see that you will gain skills and knowledge that will be essential for future growth.
  2. Illustrate the benefits of networking with peers and the exchange of best practice. Time out of the office can improve creative thinking and problem solving, it also provides an opportunity to meet new people that can help with resources and connections.    External networking will broaden the playing fields.
  3. Be mindful of your end goal – you need to tie in your request for L&D to your current position and how it will prepare you and your boss for the future. Will you share your learning with other Assistants thus increasing the ROI?  Will the request tie in with one of your appraisal goals?
  4. Be prepared to negotiate if necessary. If your executive is adamant that they can’t contribute 100% of the funding or timing, then outline that you are willing to pay for X if they pay for Y.   Likewise, if they give you a half day, you will take the other half as annual leave.  It is about give and take until you prove the benefits.  If you request to attend a Training Day and they say that time away from the office is the main issue, then you need to make the conference seem as undisruptive as possible.  You need to reinforce that your work is under control and manage expectations.

Managers ultimately want to hear about bottom lines and how you how you successfully planned and smoothly executed your teams’ success in achieving annual targets.  Like everything in business, it’s about negotiation for both funds and time.

Getting buy-in IS ACHIEVABLE and I managed to successfully get the following approved:

  • Business Cards
  • Internal & External Training
  • Magazine Subscriptions
  • Membership to Networking Clubs & Associations
  • Support for an Internal PA Network
  • Support for External PA Awards
  • Revised Job Description
  • Salary Increase

Business Cards:

I was the first PA within my last company of 30+ Assistants to request Business Cards.

I explained to my boss that I had attended a conference without any and had to write my name and details on scraps of paper which did not feel or look very professional.  My boss totally got it, but I had to further explain to HR for the final approval.  Once it was understood that I needed them in order to fully execute my role and be an effective brand ambassador it was signed off.  Moral of the story – if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Internal & External Training:

The first external conference that I ever attended was Square Meal Venues and Events. On the day I reverted to ‘show and tell’ and picked up the annual catalogue of restaurants for both of my bosses which greatly impressed them.  Square Meal is a free conference, which I attended during lunch time, over time I was able to extend the hours as they could see the benefit.  This eventually enabled me to then request paid internal and external training.

Magazine Subscriptions:

In the past when I asked for subscriptions to magazines to be paid by the company I made a point of bringing in the magazine and showing the value that it gave to me.  The main benefit was that I became aware of venues, technology and training which could help us all in my daily role.

Membership to Networking Clubs & Associations:

I’m originally from Dublin so in order to get up to speed as a PA in London I started networking via The PA Club.  I figured if my colleagues were members of other associations for their profession that I had an equal right to pursue it.

I explained that I would be networking in my own personal time in the evenings and how I could add value to the role.   If I was ever impressed by a particular restaurant or hotel I would send them the link or bring them in the hard copy brochure to examine.  Over time I managed to add several hotels to our Globally Approved Travel Program, which enabled all global staff to benefit from discounted rates and also obtained supplier discounts for our intranet company benefits portal.  My connections also enabled me to secure last minute table bookings – the value of which was priceless.

Internal PA Network:

When I saw the need for a PA network within my company I submitted a full business proposal to both my boss and the Head of HR – I described the benefits and ultimately the ROI by introducing a culture of sharing best practice and tips.  I highlighted what was in it for everyone and the bottom line and it was approved by both.

Support for External PA Awards:

At the start of 2015 I set myself the personal challenge of entering several PA of the Year Awards.  I figured that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. At the very least it would be a fantastic way to network with peers and widen my circle.  It was also an optimum way of educating and showing my friends and colleagues that I took my role and profession seriously.  Perhaps some of your clients or competitors PAs attend training or enter PA awards? If so highlight this and what is going on in your industry.

Revised Job Description:

A lot of managers and indeed HR are not fully aware of our entire role so I took it upon myself to revise my job spec which was generic and very minimal.  The best way for me to do this was to do an internal time management course.  At the end of the course we had to keep a 2-day log of all the work we did.  It proved to be highly beneficial as our job can be hard to quantify at times as we are spinning many plates, but this gave me a concrete example of everything done over 2 days.  I forwarded it to my boss as a ‘show and tell’ of my job spec and also of the benefit of attending the internal training.  It then enabled me to broach the subject of editing my job spec.

Salary Increase:

Most companies will actually want an up to date and accurate job spec and this can be used as a valuable appraisal document for measuring progression/performance and edited accordingly.  Just because something has always been a certain way does not mean that it has to remain so.   We need to have a job spec based on our actual remit and duties versus an inherited job spec full of clichés.  Over the course of the year I collated a ‘show and tell’ file of all of the internal / external training I had attended and any work related achievement.  When it came to appraisal time I then had a working file to draw on.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”.  Nelson Mandela

People buy people, make sure that your boss and company are buying you.

What is your experience? Do you have any other top tips to impart?

The Assist Conference 2017

Do you need to convince your boss to pay for training and to attend the Assist Conference?  Don’t worry, we have done all the hard work for you and produced a business case document. Places are still available for the conference. To find out more information and to book your spot head on over to the Assist Conference website.

This blog has been written by Jennifer Corcoran, Virtual Assistant and Stylist. You can find more details about Jennifer on her website www.jennifercorcoran.me

Photo©John Cassidy The Headshot Guy® www.theheadshotguy.co.uk 07768 401009

How can assistants add value in the workplace?

Firstly, happy New Year! Last year was a mixed bag wasn’t it?! I hope you all had a lovely break and are looking forward to the year ahead. As usual, we have a packed schedule for 2017, starting with the Assist Conference in February.

Today I am writing about one of the key themes for this year’s conference – using your tool kits to add value within your organisation. I used to struggle with this during my career as an assistant. Sure, I worked on projects that contributed to the success of the organisation but I had many skills that were not used because nobody knew I had them and I didn’t proactively promote them. It took a while, and a thoroughly excellent boss, for me to gain the confidence to promote my skills, to go into meetings and say ‘actually, I can do that’. The first time I was given a project outside of my usual role was nerve racking, but I did a good job (I saved my organisation a lot of money) and from there I had more confidence in my toolkit, my colleagues did and my Executive did. Which meant I got a lot more interesting work and was able to add value in different areas. The moral of the story is that assistants have a huge amount of skills and can add value in a number of areas within the workplace, we just need to have the confidence to promote ourselves.

During the conference, we will have a session on confidence in the workplace, but let’s look at areas assistants can add value. This article from Eat Your Career, suggests 6 ways to add value and I think it is a great place to start for assistants. The 6 areas are:

1.    Save money
2.    Make money
3.    Improve efficiency of a process or procedure
4.    Improve quality of a product or service
5.    Fix an existing problem
6.    Prevent a future problem

Saving money and making money.

Assistant’s work with suppliers on a regular basis and can easily research and suggest new suppliers which might save the organisation money. Every year it is well worth reviewing all of the suppliers that you use and renegotiating your contracts. You will inevitably save your organisation a little money and potentially you could save them a lot.

Making money for your organisation is a little trickier. Well.. Actually, maybe not. You save your Executive a lot of time. Time that they spend building relationships with existing clients and making new clients. So effectively, you do make your organisation money. A LOT OF MONEY. Not many of your colleagues can say that!

If, however, you would like to make money for your organisation in a more traditional way think about networking. There are lots of opportunities for assistants to network either through industry events or through specific assistant events. While attending these events it is always worthwhile thinking about how your organisation can benefit other’s. What can you sell at these events. This is how your Executive thinks while attending networking events and you should act the same.

Improving efficiency of a process or procedure.

Again, this is an area that Assistants can ace. We are heavily involved in the day to day process and procedures within our organisations. If there is an area that you think can be improved then it is well worth speaking to your Executive about making some changes. Sometimes, it is worthwhile just making the change – if you can – and tell your Executive after. That my friend, is proactivity!

Improving the quality of a product or service.

To improve the quality of a product or service firstly you need, you have a good understanding of what your organisation does. Business acumen is so very vital for assistants, but many of us probably do not know all of the ins and outs of our organisation. What are the top products, who are the clients, what services does your business offer them? Once you have a greater understanding of what your business does you will have the knowledge to participate in conversations about the business and make suggestions. You have regular contact with your Executive and you have access to reports and documents so you are in a good position to add value in this area.

Fixing an existing problem, preventing a future one.

Assistants are natural problem solvers, most of us will have this skill in our toolkit. We are really well placed in the organisation to see problems and prevent future ones from occurring. Just think, how often we are called upon to sort out the problem with the photocopier? Our colleagues come to us with all manner of issues, so why not take the time to solve these issues so that they don’t happen again. This really can add value to the organisation and aid productivity.

Assistants add value everyday.

Often without really knowing it. We are hugely valuable to our organisations. We have so many skills that can be put to good use. During the Assistant Conference, we will explore these skills in greater detail and help you unlock your potential. Places for the conference are still available so do check out the website for more information… Here are a few more details below.

Assist Conference 2017

During the conference, we will be discussing all of the important tools that assistants need to succeed in the role – now and in the next 5 years. Taking place on the 24th February in London for only £300+VAT. If you would like to book your place on the conference, check out the programme or the speakers, please do make your way over to the website.

How can assistants add value in the workplace?

10 reasons to attend Assist 2017

Over the last few months I have been busy behind the scenes working on the programme for Assist 2017. It is coming together really well, so I thought now would be a good time to share 10 reasons why I think you lovely lot should attend. It is on Friday 24th February in London. We have packed the day full of brilliant content, speakers and lots and lots of practical sessions designed for you to take back to the office with you. Places are still available for only £300+VAT.

  1. Every session is designed to enhance your unique tool kit of skills. You will leave Assist 2017 with practical knowledge that you can immediately put into practice back in the office.
  2. There are also lots of opportunities over the course of the conference to meet and network with every other assistant in the room. By the end of the day you will know every other assistant attending the conference.
  3. We have a dedicated LinkedIn session run by the UK’s top trainer on the platform. Mark Williams aka Mr LinkedIn will provide fantastic examples and advice for any assistant who would like to get more out of LinkedIn and integrate it into their role.
  4. There will be a number of specific soft skills sessions for assistants, including an interactive keynote, from award winning coach and author Jenny Garrett, on confidence in the workplace. Jenny’s mission is to transform the world for everyone, one empowered woman at a time. She uses her years of experience in coaching and leadership to inspire and motivate people, working with them to deliver career and life changing results beyond expectation.
  5. We have four fantastic case studies from brilliant assistants who have undertaken a project that has moved their career forward. We will hear how they got involved in the project, what the work did for their career, what skills they took up during the process and their take home tips.
  6. Once again, the relationship between Assistant and their Executive will be at the heart of the conference. We will have an in depth interview with a top level PA and her brave Executive. They will share how they work together, what key skills the assistant needs to compliment her Executive and they will both offer delegates advice to make the relationship work.
  7. We will have all of the latest office tech and apps on display and ready for you to test, play with and take back to the office.
  8. For assistants who need to update their little black book of contacts we will have a brilliant ‘speed networking’ session where all of the delegates will be swapping details on those great suppliers.
  9. Moving the assistant industry forward must come from within the industry itself. At Assist 2017 we will focus on how we can shape the future of the role, the skills we will need to enhance our fantastic tool kit of never ending skills and how we can finally get the reward and recognition that we deserve.
  10. The Assist Conference will not be your run of the mill stuffy conference. We want to do things a little differently so expect this conference to be fun, engaging and, most importantly, relevant to you as an assistant!

If you would like to attend but are not sure if you will get approval from your Executive hopefully this blog will help. I also have a business case letter that you can send to your boss to help with any conversations you will have regarding training for 2016. If you would like the business case, please do get in touch and I will send to straight to you via email.

Assist Conference 2017

During the conference, we will be discussing all of the important tools that assistants need to succeed in the role – now and in the next 5 years. Taking place on the 24th February in London for only £300+VAT. If you would like to book your place on the conference, check out the programme or the speakers, please do make your way over to the website.

AC2017_AC2017

A business case for the Assist Conference 2017

Next year’s Assist Conference kicks off on Friday 24th February in London and I am just putting the final touches to the programme. I must say I am really looking forward to the day. We have fantastic speakers and so far the programme is packed full of thought-provoking, relevant and informative content. We have great networking opportunities for all of the delegates and we are adding a few creative details to make the conference fun and engaging.

I have had great feedback from the Practically Perfect PA readers and so far we have 40 assistants booked onto the conference. With limited spaces I don’t want anyone to miss out, particularly assistants who do really want to come along, but believe their boss will not finance the training. For those of you in this situation I have put together a business case document which will help you persuade your boss that you need to attend training courses throughout the year.

If you would like a copy of the business case document, please do get in touch using the contact form. I will email you a copy straight away.

Assist Conference 2017

During the conference, we will be discussing all of the important tools, including effective communication, that assistants need to succeed in the role – now and in the next 5 years. Taking place on the 24th February in London for only £300+VAT. If you would like to book your place on the conference, check out the programme or the speakers, please do make your way over to the website.

AC2017_AC2017

The Launch of PA Insiders – for PA to PA Recommendations

Merryl Futerman PA Access All Areas

 

Hi, I’m Merryl Futerman and I am one of the founders of PA Insiders.  Having worked as a celebrity PA for nearly 20 years, one of the things I love most about the job ihttp://www.pa-insiders.com/s never knowing what task is coming my way next. One of these unusual requests formed what would become the seed of PA Insiders. Let me explain. My boss bought an antique grand piano at auction for his country house. I needed to arrange delivery, but also for the baby grand that was there to be moved to the London property to make space. This in turn meant moving the art deco ship’s piano from the London home to a friend’s house in another part of the country. And so it was I spent several days researching, getting quotes, insurance, booking etc so that on one fateful day I had 3 pianos in simultaneous motion around the country. I was now an expert in piano removals. And yet would probably never need those contacts again.

This is often the way with us PAs – we have banks of knowledge which sometimes we only need to use once – a big office move, a one-off international conference. I was chatting about this with my colleague, Josephine Green, and she also pointed out how collaborative PAs usually are, happy to share their contacts and knowledge with other PAs. So together we came up with the concept of creating a place where PAs could share information with each other, and more to the point understand instantly the requirements – PA to PA recommendations. Better still, if it was online it would mean that PAs from anywhere in the country and even beyond could access it – and so the idea started to take shape.

It has taken over a year and been through many stages but we are delighted to be launching www.PA-Insiders.com – a website where PAs from anywhere can search the database to find a supplier suggested by another PA, with their reason for recommending and relevant contact info etc. We are also great believers in networking, so there is a Conversation Wall where PAs can ask a question, share a great tip or post a picture, an e-card feature to send to someone to ask for advice about their city, or say ‘thanks for the help’, or just ‘I think our paths have crossed’. We have thrown in a competition and a regular poll for PAs to get involved in and tried to include everything we ourselves would find useful in our day to day working lives.

Our dream is a PA in Exeter having to plan a business trip to Glasgow for their boss, and simply by asking for help on the Conversation Wall and searching the database by city, being able to set the whole thing up in a few clicks – from travel to hotel to a great restaurant for dinner. Or needing a specialist piece of tech for a board meeting and having someone who knows exactly what to use and how to source it.

One of our key requirements was that the site be free to use for PAs and we’re very proud to have achieved this, but its success is now down to our members – by uploading their great suppliers, engaging in the conversation wall or responding to a poll. Do go and have a look – you can download the brochure on the home page before signing up. As all communication takes place via the website you can rest assured that only your name, company and city will be displayed on the member database.

There are approximately 65,000 PAs working in the UK, imagine the shared knowledge available to access.

Visit the website www.PA-Insiders.com

Follow us on Twitter @PA_Insiders

The Future of Business Travel and the Millennial Traveller

At the recent Assist Travel event we were lucky to have Tae Lee, the founder and CEO of Travo talk to our delegates about the future of business travel and the millennial traveller. He covered a lot of interesting points and I thought it would be useful to share his video with you today. I just want to give you a bit more of an introduction to the video.. .here is what Tae covered in his session:

A new generation of business travellers are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. The Millennials, the generation of tech savvy digital natives currently in their twenties and early thirties, will account for nearly half of the workforce by 2020. In this session a true Millennial will look at how the travel industry is already gearing up for this new cohort. Tae will also look at how individual Assistants can prepare as increasingly their Executives travel habits and expectations start to change. So how should Assistants react to their Executives:

  • Travelling more often
  • Loving gadgets
  • Increasing their expenses
  • Spontaneous nature and
  • Ease in voicing dissatisfaction

A bit more about Travo

Our Motto: “TIME IS MONEY”

We believe that time is money. Time can be exchanged for money by working, but it can also be spent curing a disease or spending time with your nine-month old son. Admins and travel planners spend way too much time planning and booking trips. Travellers dread planning their trips until the very last minute because it’s time consuming to not only find flights, hotels, and ground transport, but also to figure out if all the arrangements are timed correctly. It’s hard. TRAVO makes it easy.

Go play, invent, study, love. Let TRAVO do the hard work.

https://www.travo.com

This post is sponsored by Travo. Follow the link for more information about Practically Perfect PA’s sponsored posts.

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