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  • 10 May 2018 10:17 AM | Alison McKessar (Administrator)

    I came across this article from the Harvard Business Review about enhancing the experience of networking. If you dread networking, I would recommend you make yourself comfortable and have a read (make sure you get to the very last question - it's a beauty!). Alternatively, these questions are a great way to break the ice at a Group meeting – Group Presidents: try choosing a question or two for the start of your meetings!

    Eight questions to ask someone other than “what do you do?”

    By David Burkus (best-selling author and Associate Professor of Leadership and Innovation at Oral Roberts University.)


    We’ve all been in the awkward situation of meeting someone new and having to build rapport quickly — at networking events, industry conferences, charity events, dinner parties, and other social-professional situations. If you’re like many people — especially most Americans — you break the awkward silence with a pretty standard question:

    “So, what do you do?”

    But that question might not be the best way to build rapport with someone else. In fact, it may be best to avoid talking about work entirely.

    Research findings from the world of network science and psychology suggests that we tend to prefer and seek out relationships where there is more than one context for connecting with the other person. Sociologists refer to these as multiplex ties, connections where there is an overlap of roles or affiliations from a different social context. If a colleague at work sits on the same non-profit board as you, or sits next to you in spin class at the local gym, then you two share a multiplex tie. We may prefer relationships with multiplex ties because research suggests that relationships built on multiplex ties tend to be richer, more trusting, and longer lasting. We see this in our everyday lives: The work friend who is also a “friend friend” is far more likely to stick with you should one of you change jobs. And it goes the other way, too: People who have at least one real friend at work report liking their jobs more.

    Which brings us back to the problem of using “So, what do you do?” as your opener.

    Assuming you’re already at a work-related networking event or meeting another person in a work context, the question quickly sets a boundary around the conversation that the other person is now a “work” contact. It’s possible you might discover another commonality and build a multiplex tie, but it’s far less likely to happen in that conversation.

    Instead, consider beginning your introductory questions with something deliberately non-work-related and trusting that the context of the meeting will eventually steer the conversation back to work-related topics. Toward that end, here’s a few questions you could start with that will leave you more likely to find multiple commonalities and turn your new contacts into a multiplex tie — and maybe even a friend:

    What excites you right now? This is a question that has a wide range of possible answers. It gives others the ability to give with a work-related answer, or talk about their kids, or their new boat, or basically anything that excites them.

    What are you looking forward to? This question works for the same reason, but is more forward-looking than backward-looking, allowing others to choose from a bigger set of possible answers. 

    What’s the best thing that happened to you this year? Similar to the previous two, but reversed: more backward-looking than forward-looking. Regardless, it’s an open-ended question that gives others a wealth of answers to choose from.

    Where did you grow up? This question dives into others’ backgrounds (but in a much less assertive and loaded way than “Where are you from?”) and allows them to answer with simple details from childhood or to engage in their story of how they got to where they are right now and what they’re doing.

    What do you do for fun? This question steers the conversation away from work, unless of course they are lucky enough to do for work what they’d be doing for fun anyway. Even then, it’s understood as a non-work question and the most likely answers will probably establish non-work ties.

    Who is your favorite superhero? This might seem random, but it’s one of my favorites. Occasionally, asking this question has led me to bond over the shared love of a character, but more often you’ll find a shared connection or two in the reason for why the other person chose that particular character…or why they’re not really into superheroes.

    Is there a charitable cause you support? Another big, open-ended question (assuming they support at least one charitable cause). It’s important to define support as broader than financial donations, as support might be in the form of volunteering or just working to raise awareness. You’re also really likely to either find shared ground or find out about a cause you didn’t know about.

    What’s the most important thing I should know about you? This one is effective for similar reasons as many of the above, plus it gives the broadest possible range from which they can choose. It can come off as a little forthright, so when to use it depends on a lot of contextual clues.

    Regardless of which question you choose, the important thing is to ask a question open-ended enough to allow others to select non-work answers if they choose. Doing so will increase the chances that you didn’t just turn a stranger into a new contact on your phone, but that you actually made a new friend.

    Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua, suggests these additional questions. I am loving the last one!

    David / River / Adele / Martha / Storm [insert person’s name] – what a great name! How did you come to get such a nice name? Let’s face it, when given the opportunity and an attentive audience, most of us will happily gab on about our name and its origin. It’s a topic where we’re definitely on home ground, in the driver’s seat, well within our comfort zone.

    So [insert name] what keeps you awake at night – this is an excellent question as it can be interpreted either personally or professionally. It might lead into a very deep chat about personal anxieties and fear or it might focus on how the other person is going to break into that new account. Either way you’ve affording the person the opportunity to choose how much or how little to share with you.

    Can I introduce myself? I’ve challenged myself to go out and meet new people – this is a great conversation starter that hints at the awkwardness we all feel in networking situations. Asked in this way it becomes an invitation to share in the awkwardness and that, in turn, takes the awkwardness out of the situation.

  • 27 Apr 2018 8:47 AM | Alison McKessar (Administrator)
    With Group Election of Officers meetings looming, I thought I would try my hand at a blog about why you should put your hand up for a position on the Group Management Team (GMT). 

    Unfortunately, many groups run with a bare minimum of GMT members where only a few do all the work to keep the group functioning and delivering meetings and events for all its members. Eventually, this can be exhausting. There is some truth in the old adage that many hands make light work and the more people on the GMT, the less work that needs to be done by any one individual. This is especially helpful when we are all working in a voluntary capacity and most of us are already in very demanding jobs.

    The group needs you!

    It goes without saying that the most obvious reason is that a group cannot survive without a GMT. At the least, it needs a President, Finance Officer and Membership Officer. In the ideal world, there should also be a Vice-President, Meetings Coordinator, Admin Officer, Sponsorship Coordinator and Newsletter/Social Media Officer and a couple of general members who can do ad hoc tasks and pick up projects such as helping to organise Administrative Professionals Day.

    Gain new skills

    Joining the GMT may give you an opportunity to try your hand at a skill that you don’t get in your day job. For instance, I know people who have taken on the finance role because they don’t have any accounting functions in their work role. It’s amazing how many PA/EA roles these days require you to do some basic accounts work, such as budgets and reconciliations, and taking on the Finance Officer role is a great way to gain these skills. The same can be said of many of the other GMT positions, such as minute taking, project and event management, leading a team, etc.  As National President I have been lucky to attend many professional development and networking opportunities and am learning so much. I make a point of sharing any new information with my manager and colleagues, as well the National Executive Team (NET) so that many people benefit in turn.

    Transferable skills

    I think it would be safe to say that every position on the GMT provides you with meaningful transferable skills to enhance your CV. As noted in the paragraph above, tasks such as project and event management, basic accounting, budgeting, minute taking, running a meeting, leading a team, problem solving, report writing, planning, working to deadlines; they’re all things that turn up in position descriptions. Having these things on your CV already may give you the edge over your competitors for your dream job. I know people who have acquired great jobs because of the skills they learnt on the GMT.

    Boost your CV

    Every skill and relevant experience that you can add to your CV, or discuss at your next performance appraisal, adds to enhancing you as an employee. It may mean you are considered for a new work project, or boosts your chances of a pay rise or new job. In addition, being actively involved in your professional development association not only shows that you are serious about your career and professional development but also indicates that you are a motivated individual who is prepared to ‘muck in’ and get things done.

    Self-confidence

    Taking on a role with the GMT is a safe place to stretch your administrative muscle. There will be others on the GMT, or within the group, who can mentor you in your learning new skills. If you take on a role you already have experience with, you could be the mentor for someone else who is learning. Of course, there is that amazing feeling of a job well done and the satisfaction that you are giving back to your Association. There’s also a lot of pride in knowing that you are helping the group to tick along. The feeling of fulfillment I get when the NET comes up with a tangible solution or brings an idea to fruition is exhilarating, especially when it something that will directly benefit AAPNZ members.

    Camaraderie

    There’s nothing quite like being in a team of people working towards a common goal. You will meet every month and get to know the other team members really well. I, and I know of several others, have formed life-long friendships with people I worked alongside on the GMT. I looked forward to GMT meetings where I could spend time with these people, working hard for the beginning and then having a laugh together over coffee/wine and a snack. I look forward to the NET meetings in the same way. Yes, there’s a massive agenda with some rather challenging topics, but we make sure there are chocolate biscuits and lots of laughter to get us through. There are several ways you can make meetings feel less onerous and building friendships is just the start.

    These reasons are just my musings on why being on the GMT is a good idea. If you speak to your current or past GMT members, they may have other things to add.

    So, if you are thinking about it, or even haven’t been thinking about it until now, be brave and put your hand up and get that nomination form in! Join your GMT and contribute to your professional Association. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

  • 11 Apr 2018 9:38 PM | Sherie Pointon (Administrator)


    Click on the article to open a pdf version.

  • 11 Apr 2018 9:25 PM | Sherie Pointon (Administrator)

    On Saturday, 17 February, the National Executive Team held its face-to-face meeting at the Grand Mercure on The Terrace in Wellington.

    The Grand Mercure Wellington has recently been refurbished and it shows. Reception is beautiful with lovely couches and chairs.

    The hotel is easy to find and offers valet parking. We met in The Boardroom on the 2nd floor. The plus sides of this room are that it’s very private and has its own heat pump (or air conditioning as we used it for) with a remote. The room is an internal one so does not have any windows. You could argue that this is a downside, however it does allow for total concentration on your meeting. The decoration is tasteful and the chairs are very comfortable. I suspect that the hotel gym may be above the Boardroom as there were the occasional thumps and bumps. Just outside the door, you can look down on the hotel pool which looked lovely. Overall the room certainly met our purposes, although if you use it for an all day meeting, make sure you get out and about at lunchtime. It’s perfect for a half day where you need privacy and focus.

    One of the standouts about the Grand Mercure is its staff. Everyone we dealt with was really helpful and cheerful, especially in the restaurant. We nipped up to the café to order morning coffee and they offered to bring it down to the Boardroom so we didn’t have to wait around. I might add that the coffee was good, too. They also offered to bring us a lunch menu so that we could pre-order what we wanted and not have to wait at lunchtime. The food was divine and the wine list was good (as was the wine).

    The view from the restaurant, Forage, was an angle on Wellington I’d not had before and as such was really interesting.

    I was jealous of the three NET members who got to stay the night. The rooms looked beautiful and I’m assured they were very comfortable with gorgeous linen on the bed. The view was also superb.


     

     


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