New Assistants / Guide for Assistants who are new to the role / Building your personal brand and networking

Chapter Six

Building your personal brand and networking

The key to success as an Assistant is building your networking. We give Assistants tips on how to start making connections and building a personal brand.

If you think about some of the most famous brands across the globe, they will all have a unique attribute that makes them stand out from their competitors be it Nike, Coca-Cola or Apple. We all know what the companies stand for.

We all know what the companies stand for. We also understand what Oprah Winfrey stands for, we have seen Tom Cruise’s expert skills, and we are all aware of brand Beckham so we know that individuals can also have strong personal brands.  Why not assistants? We need to stand out in an organisation to get the recognition we deserve so why not build a strong personal brand? Why not become the office superstar? We are going to cover: 

Building your personal brand

So how do we begin to build a personal brand and how will it benefit us?

Firstly personal branding is about your reputation and how your colleagues and clients see you. If you are an assistant that quietly gets things done behind the scene without much fuss you might think you will not have as much of an impact compared to an assistant who is loud and proud.

But your reputation might be that you are easy to work with and always delivers what is asked of you. At the other end of the scale, you might be an extrovert who is fantastic at rallying the troops and a real team player. You might not have given much thought to how your colleagues see you, but I think it is important for assistants to be self-aware. If you are unsure how other’s see you do ask for some feedback.

Understanding how you come across will help you market yourself and sell the key attributes that you have.

Personal branding is more than reputation management though. It can help you focus on your career development and future goals.

When I was having a career crisis a few years ago, I decided to write down all of the tasks I enjoy in my role. I realised pretty quickly that I loved organising events and I enjoyed marketing and writing.

So I made sure I put my hand up at every opportunity that came along to get involved in these elements of the job. I also made sure all of my colleagues and my manager knew that these were the areas that I could help with and I was always super keen when they asked for that help.

Over time I became the go-to person in the company for events and organised quite a few for my department and then for the Executive Management team. Other people in the company began to recognise my name and associate me with that skill. I had created a personal brand. I was an EA that also organised events.

My brand gave my colleagues confidence in the abilities that I had, and they would seek me out for the projects that they knew I could deliver. Without that experience, I would not be working in the role that I am now.

What are your expertise? It will usually be the tasks you enjoy the most.

Think about the skills you have and the tasks you like to do and then shout very loudly that you are good at that aspect of your job. We all want to pigeonhole people so why not use that to your advantage when it comes to your career development.

Do think about your communication style and how you present yourself publicly.

A can-do attitude, service with a smile and accepting that no task is too small will eventually pay off. Be especially helpful when working on the tasks that you want people to recognise as your expertise. Completing these tasks the best way that you can will lead you to the place you want to be in the future.

Having a personal brand will open so many more opportunities for you.

Lastly, continue to learn and update the skills that you want to be seen as an expert in. Ask for training in the specific areas that you want to excel in. For me, I went to marketing courses, and I attended events for event organisers. I also search high and low online for useful articles, blogs and websites that would help increase my skills.

Remember having your own personal brand will help you stand out from the crowd.

There are so many assistants in the marketplace but how many have your unique attributes and skills? Not many is the answer to that – so use what you have to your advantage!

How Assistants can build credibility and create a personal brand

We know that having a strong personal brand is crucial in business. In the digital era, it is going to be important more than ever for Executive Assistants and Personal Assistants to build a reputation that inspires confidence in your co-workers, clients and their Executive.

In this session, we will look at the steps you need to take to build your reputation, create trust and a following of people who want to see you succeed in your role.

From Caroline Diamond, Executive Coach, SEVEN Career Coaching – Recorded at The Future Assistant Conference 2019

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Networking like a CEO

It goes without saying that networking is essential for your career development. For a whole load of reasons, that I’m not going to write about in this blog, because we have lots of other blogs that talk about the benefits. So what am I going to write about today? Well, if we know networking is essential, how do we get it right?

How do we kick ass when it comes to networking? That is what I’m going to write about today. I want to share some tips on how you can take every networking opportunity and turn it into something worthwhile so that every contact you make becomes a valuable connection. This is what the great CEO’s and entrepreneurs do and have done to move their careers and their businesses forward. So today, here are some tips on how you can get networking right and network like a CEO.

Be confident, poised and professional

This is my first tip, and it is probably the hardest because networking can be difficult if you struggle with your confidence, or like me in the past, you find it hard to talk about your career with passion and pride. My tip if you do have confidence issues (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) is fake it until you make it.

I’m a big fan of this strategy.

Visualise yourself as a CEO, as someone who is confident and at the top of their game, because in reality, you are! The more you practice fake it till you make, the more you will feel confident in yourself – it works! The other thing CEO’s do at networking events is to behave professionally and with poise. Don’t get me wrong, have a drink and enjoy yourself but remember that you are representing your business and your career.

Study the delegate list

Before the event, take some time to do some research on who is attending the event or if you are making a connection online, have a look at their profiles to get a sense of who they are and what they do. There are apps that can help with the research such as Accompany and LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

If you are attending an event, they should have a hashtag that you can follow to see who else is attending and what conversations are taking place online. There should be content in the social media messages that you can draw on for discussions at the event.

Ask questions

Be interested and not just interesting. Ask lots of questions; this will also help the conversation flow. You will find that a lot of senior Executives, who get how to network, will rarely talk about what they do because they go to networking events to find out what other people are doing.

This is a great approach because you will learn loads and keeping the conversation flowing. We have a list of great networking questions that you can use to help start any conversation.

Set some objectives for each networking event

This is something that I have written about before but like any CEO, your time is precious too, so before you sign up for an event or networking opportunity, think to yourself ‘why am I going to this and what do I hope to achieve?’. If it is talking to a certain person, meeting a certain supplier or just making a few new connections, stick to your objectives when you are at the event.

This is also handy when it comes to exiting a conversation that might be lagging because you can tell the other person you’ve got to meet your objectives, take their details and thank them for their time.

Follow up

Follow up with the people that you met at the event. Connect with them on social media, share their content and continue to build your relationship.

Elevator pitch

I struggle with something like this because it can feel pretty false and pre-prepared. But, at any networking event, you are going to be asked what you do, so it is well worth coming up with a few words that start the conversation.

Okay, you’ll give your job title, sure but with any follow-up questions – and we all get follow up questions. I would say something like ‘I make my CEO incredibly successful’. Which is true and not something many other people can say!

Be incredibly helpful

Last but not least, if you want to network like a CEO, be incredibly helpful. If you can help solve someone’s challenge or you can connect people that may help each other. Do it. Being helpful

20 questions to ask at any Assistant networking event

Does the cat always seem to get your tongue? Or do you often nod during a conversation, wishing you had a killer question to ask?​ ​Most people struggle to start conversations at networking events and almost everyone runs out of things to say. But not you. Not anymore.

​Because you have downloaded this great list of networking questions!

Download our FREE resource

Thank you for reading our guide!

We hope you find the guide useful and that it helps you on your journey as a new Assistant. The sky is the limit!

This guide will always be free for Assistants.

We also have free content on the Practically Perfect PA blog. and we a have an Assistant Essentials online course, which is full of great sessions on how to develop the key skills you need to succeed in the role.