This post was written by Rachel Gonzalez, Executive Assistant to Udaya Patnaik at Jump Associates. Follow her on Twitter at @gonzalezrachelr, or connect with her directly by commenting on this post.
As an Executive Assistant, every day I am tasked with managing schedules, coordinating agendas, and finding a solution for nearly any problem. As a sort of gatekeeper, it’s my job to say “I’ll handle that” and then find a way to do it—often there are no easy solutions. Although I’m quite resourceful on my own, the amazing pool of other EAs that I’ve met throughout my journey has been invaluable to my success. The confidential part of our job keeps us from sharing specific details, but the basic situations we’re in are similar enough that we can all help each other out.
This isn’t unique to EAs, however. Having a community of other people that you can bounce ideas off of, ask “what would you do?” questions to, and reference for overall support only helps you become better at what you do, and that’s true whether you’re an EA, a CEO, an associate, or anyone in between. As I’ve learned, collaboration doesn’t only need to happen within your office’s walls.
Here are a few reasons why creating strong professional relationships and fostering a sense of community are good ideas, no matter what your position is at your company:
- Co-professionals provide a great emotional support network: Looking for comic relief? What about someone who understands what you’re going through? Although you shouldn’t expect your broader network of peers to share company secrets, that network can be immensely useful for helping you get quick answers or bounce a few ideas around. Especially when you’re feeling stuck, professionals outside of your workplace can offer valuable insights you may not get from within your company.
- Seeing things from a different perspective is immensely useful: When dealing with a problem or person very different than you’re used to, you often need to think outside the box. How do I get on a level where we can work well together? What type of solution would work best for this problem? Having a group of people to talk to outside of your workplace can give you a better perspective on overcoming these problems and approaching them from a different angle than you might normally use.
- When you’re good to others, they’re often good to you in return: There’s a lot of truth in the fact that building up a reputation as someone who goes the extra mile can increase the chances of others doing the same for you. That meeting you need to squeeze in can be easier to schedule if you have a great relationship with that person’s admin. Having that good rapport with others is a great professional resource. Although you shouldn’t count on these sorts of favors every single day, professional relationships provide benefits to both parties when nurtured correctly.
As long as you’re not sharing company secrets, you can benefit from having a strong network—even if the people in it work at rival companies. Focusing on creating and strengthening your interpersonal relationships can have immense benefits, from improving employee efficiency through collaboration, to providing mutual benefits through competition (like when Microsoft and Apple partnered to share licenses and develop applications for each others’ products).
Ultimately, the decisions surrounding how you manage your professional relationships are up to you. But as someone who communicates with people for a living, I can say first hand that making the effort to create a network of people with similar aspirations to you at other companies is usually well worth the effort.
photo credit: wagaboodlemum via photopin cc