I remember the moment my former executive was fired.
I had been his executive assistant for 6 years and had been at the organization (that he founded) for 12 years.
I went from thinking I was going to be at that organization for 12 more years, to all of the sudden wondering where I would be in 12 days.
I was a bit shaken up, to say the least. So what did I do?
I did what I thought everyone does when faced with a career change. I logged on to my LinkedIn account.
It had been years since I was on LinkedIn – I thought it was the ugly duckling of social networks.
But as I began to “manage my professional identity” on the platform, I realized real people were active on LinkedIn.
They were posting, commenting, sending messages, congratulating people on new jobs, and participating in like-minded groups.
I had missed several years of quality networking because I chose not to spend any time on LinkedIn.
My lack of a network – on LinkedIn or elsewhere – was embarrassing.
Sure, a lot of people knew who I was – that comes with the territory when you’re EA to a founder – but very few people truly knew me.
As for other assistants in the world, I was only connected to one. You read that right. There was only one assistant in the world I had connected with over the years who I felt comfortable calling in this moment of career shakeup.
Soon after the you-know-what hit the fan, I decided it was time for me to move on to a different organization.
So there I was with no job. No network. No LinkedIn connections to reach out to.
No community of assistants to seek encouragement or help from. Just me, my family, and a couple of close friends.
How did I end up in this situation?
Honestly, it took a few months of unemployment and hours of free time to figure out where I had gone wrong, but I eventually had an epiphany.
I had been working under a rock in the middle of a remote island for 10+ years.
Not literally, of course.
But I was so focused on serving my executive that I didn’t take time to seek out a network of assistants to learn from, encourage, or be challenged by.
It’s difficult to find a community of people who encourage you when:
- You’re working practically all day, every day
- You get pinged about work at all hours of the night and on the weekends
- Any free time you get, you see as an opportunity to work more
- You’re emotionally burned out and barely have energy to engage in conversations with your spouse and kids
That was me, unfortunately.
I was so focused on serving others, I forgot to take care of myself.
I spent no time connecting with people in person, on LinkedIn, or anywhere.
I placed all my eggs in one basket, and that basket was gone.
Something had to change. I had to change. So I did.
I started this blog. I reached out to assistants on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere I could find assistants to connect with.
I networked until I couldn’t network anymore. I took a break. Then I networked some more.
LinkedIn, I began to realize, was one of the best places to meet people in the administrative profession.
I was having meaningful conversations with assistants in London, South Africa, Canada, Texas, China, and Australia – all via LinkedIn.
Additionally, as my network grew, I was recruited by Facebook, Amazon, and other companies – for jobs, yes, but also to speak at assistant training events.
I was given the opportunity to fly across the world to train assistants in Germany, Hong Kong, and Thailand, and these are just a few of the opportunities I’ve had due to my now thriving LinkedIn network.
So take it from me – don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Grow your network.
You never know when you’re going to need it.
Over the years, I’ve used a variety of methods to increase my network of LinkedIn connections and followers, but it wasn’t until recently that my network increased dramatically – in a short amount of time.
I’m in the business of helping assistants, so I put together a resource to walk you through what worked for me to grow my network from 2800 to 14,000+ in about 6 months.
It’s called 6 Ways to Grow Your LinkedIn Network and you can grab the guide for FREE at goburrows.com/linkedin.