Belonging: circle of multi ethnic hands

Choosing the right group to belong to can help you soar in your endeavors, says Chi Chi Okezie

As we begin to establish and move into our new normal, several changes and pivots must be made regarding relationship building as well as professional development, career advancement and networking. Networking continues to be a huge asset in an Executive Assistant’s career. But, as we take on new roles, gain promotions and build teams, are we making the proper use of our networking practices?

In this article, let’s focus on how we can use belonging to foster, sustain and grow our valuable networks. Let’s explore hidden opportunities and untapped resources to flourish on our teams, in our companies and for our communities. Most importantly, let’s use this aspect of belonging to expand our personal / professional brand and value proposition.

What do we mean by ‘belonging’?

The online definition of belonging is “the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group.” Whether it is family, friends, co-workers or something else, people tend to have an inherent desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves. Belonging can easily relate to a work culture, group dynamic or network affiliation. Using belonging as a guide for connecting, interacting and developing with others can greatly enhance your networking objectives. As you continue to evolve and develop in your profession, career, industry, etc., using these practical tactics allows you to gain exposure and achievement. Listed below are simple ways in which we can leverage belonging to enlarge our networks.

Room for Change

The work environment has changed over the past 20 years with at least four generations in the workplace. This leads to various work styles, expectations and perceptions within organizations. We can expect to experience even more drastic changes as our global communities emerge from the pandemic. There will be an increase in remote and hybrid activity and a reimagining of the typical workspace. This requires a reset, refocus and recommitment to relationship building and networking. Incorporating the aspect of belonging into these methods can be very useful and impactful. As you connect with your colleagues and join or recommit to associations, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my intentions for interacting with this person?
  • How can my skills contribute to their vision, mission or goals?
  • Is there space for me to be my authentic self and freely connect with others?

Room for Growth

Many administrative professionals are increasingly seeking support and opportunities for growth and development. Mentoring, coaching or sponsoring are proven strategies for enabling progress. As we continue to deepen our relationships and networking practices, we must seek ways of belonging to groups which support growth initiatives. Consider these questions in your journey:

  • Am I being offered opportunities which connect me to my goals, vision and mission?
  • Am I a member of a community which advocates for, acknowledges and respects my values?
  • Am I gaining access to the right resources to further my ambitions?

Room for Success

Finally, it should be every administrative professional’s desire to not only be successful but inspire those around them. Programs, resources, training and other effective tools can propel you to surpass your goals. These programs can give you much-needed exposure to expand your professional and personal brands and value proposition. Of course, success looks different for every individual, but it is not unattainable. Ponder these questions in your efforts:

  • Am I able to reach my desired success without compromising my values and ethics?
  • Can I succeed and empower others to do the same?
  • Are my efforts making a difference in my job, work, community, etc.?

Belonging within relationships and networking is resourceful and effective. Continue to make it one of your top priorities for shaping your behaviors and attitudes along your journey. Use it strategically to influence the nature of your associations and connections. Incorporate these tips to soar in your endeavors.

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Chi Chi Okezie is the owner and producer of SIMPLEnetworking, LLC, a consulting firm based in Metro Atlanta, GA, USA which specializes in business networking, diversity and inclusion. Her company was granted a Proclamation for Business Networking Day by ... (Read More)

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