by Jeremy Burrows
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 because I thought it was the ugly duckling of the social networks. But as I began to “manage my professional identity” on the platform, I realized real people were active on LinkedIn. 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 whoI 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 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 a 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, took a break, then networked some more. LinkedIn, I began to realize, was one of the best places to meet real people in the assistant 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. I was given the opportunity to fly across the world to train assistants in Frankfurt, Germany, Hong Kong, and Chiang Mai, Thailand. Those are just a few of the many opportunities I’ve had due to my now thriving, LinkedIn network.
The lesson: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket; use LinkedIn; 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. It wasn’t until recently that my network dramatically increased 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 13,600+ in just under 6 months. It’s called 6 Ways to Grow Your LinkedIn Networkand you can snag it for FREE at goburrows.com/linkedin.
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Jeremy Burrows has 12+ years of experience as an Executive Assistant supporting fast-paced, high-capacity, influential leaders. He has worked with CEOs, Professional Athletes, Celebrities, Pastors, Authors, Speakers, and Board Members in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors.
Currently, Jeremy is EA to the CEO of Capacity—an artificial intelligence software company in St. Louis, MO. Jeremy is also founder of GoBurrows.comwhere his blog, group training, one-on-one coaching, online courses, and his top-rated podcast for assistants—The Leader Assistant Podcast—help executives and assistants reclaim their time and energy, so they can lead well without burning out.