Networking and career progression

January 16, 2021
Level Up

When you're looking to grow your career, one of the most important things you can work on is your network. A strong network allows you to discover new ways of working and sparks interests you never knew you had. It opens you to opportunities you might have otherwise missed and challenges you to reach higher. There's also nothing like having a fellow assistant to turn to for advice or to laugh with about something ridiculous that happened at work.⁠

It can be tempting to think about your network in terms of what you can get from it, but a network needs nurturing and authenticity. If you reduce it to being purely transactional, any value will quickly be lost as you either lose interest or - worse! - your network realise it was only ever about you.

Developing a strong network won't happen over night, but by investing the time, it will soon grow organically.

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

Networking at work

Building a network at work should be easy - you're part of the same company, so bam! there's a ready-made network - but that isn't always the case. Even without the constraints of now largely remote teams, as assistants we can sometimes feel isolated. Since starting my new role, I've taken it as an action point to being developing my internal network:

  1. Schedule 1:1s - whether with team members you work with on a day to day or anyone whose role really interests you. I had an amazing conversation with a program manager recently and I'm now dedicating time to some of the topics we discussed. These don't have to be long - aim for 20-30mins - but make sure to come prepared with questions.
  2. Keep an eye out for projects that interest you, and that you can get involved in. Projects tend to happen across functions so this is a great way of getting to know different teams.
  3. Interact with the wider team in dedicated Slack channels or Workplace groups. Reach out and say "hi" and try to attend as many events (virtual or otherwise) as possible.

Networking outside of the office

I have a confession. Enforced networking events are up there on my list of "LinkedIn and Instagram have made building an external network infinitely easier. But with so much out there, it can be difficult to hone in and create a network that works for you.

  1. Look at who you are already following: are they part of a community? If so, reach out and find out more: chances are that community will also be a good fit for you
  2. Follow hashtags and topics that interest you. This way, posts that use these hashtags will pop up in your feed. Find out more here for Instagram and here for LinkedIn.
  3. If you've taken part in a webinar or listened to a podcast that resonated with you, reach out to the participant. You never know where that conversation could take you.

The key thing to remember with networks is this: they should build you up, not tear you down. Channel Marie Kondo and build a network that brings you joy.

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