?So, what?s the point of this networking malarkey then?? I had a really frustrating conversation about two years ago with my dad, when he asked me this very question.
I replied that I had joined LinkedIn as part of my previous job and had built a massive network for the company to use.
He could see that it was useful for the recruiters I worked with at the time, as they could piggyback on to my connections and get in touch with some of the people who were the best in their respective fields in order to move them (tempted by the lure of more money, of course) to jobs in other companies. He could see that quite plainly.
What he couldn?t see though, was why I continued with the networking when I changed job to a totally different industry, working in education, based in a school. ?So, what use is your network to you now?? he asked.
I told him how much I?d learnt from other PAs that I?m connected with, how I?d set up a large discussion group for PAs globally and the ways in which we could share information and expertise.
But he still wasn?t having any of it: ?Do you get paid for doing this?? he persisted. I wearily explained that, no, at the time I was networking because I enjoyed it and, who knows, maybe one day it could end up repaying me in some way.
Whatever I said to explain my motives, though, he refused to listen and just kept harking back to the same old refrain. ?Yes, but what?s the point? What do you get out of it? Why are you bothering to do it for no money??
I tried to explain the concept of doing a favour for someone, simply because you want to and not because you are expecting them to give you something in return. In the end, I just said: ?I?m not arguing any more, Dad. Maybe you?ll understand it some other time.?
Fast forward two years to the present day, when I?m continuing to network and for the fifth year running I?m still the ?most connected PA on the planet? (as one networking colleague calls me). I reminded my dad on the phone a few weeks ago about our rather heated exchange and he remembered it well.
Then I explained to him that, on the strength of my networking, I?ve so far been to speak at PA events in London, Ireland, Norway, Bangkok and Hong Kong. The last two of these even paid me, alongside flying me out there and putting me up in fantastic hotels. I then also dropped in to conversation that I?d be heading off to Moscow in a few weeks and next year I?m getting lined up to speak in several cities throughout south-east Asia and Australia, which again are all paying to hear what I have to say.
Dad went a bit quiet on the phone when he heard this. I could tell he was trying to think of something to grumble about, as he doesn?t like to be shown up or proved wrong in any instance. Eventually he responded: ?Ah, but it?s not like it?s a real job though, is it?? to which I replied ?Not full time, no, but it might well become one.? I could hear the smirk in his voice ? ?Ha, only ?might?!? Yeah, OK, you hang onto that ?might?, Dad, if you really need to have something to gripe about.
Meanwhile, I?ve just been to speak at a PA conference in Russia, and in the next few months I?ll be jetting off to Singapore, Dubai, Japan, South Korea, Beijing and Australia, meeting some of the most fascinating PAs in the world and collecting frequent flyer miles to boot. And it?s all thanks to some nifty networking.
Having originally trained as a teacher, Angela Garry moved into administration and has worked as a PA for the past 15 years. She is the most connected PA and PA trainer on networking site LinkedIn and runs a company called Pica Aurum that offers training to PAs and senior administrators across the UK and worldwide