Six years ago I worked at a law firm. My boss gave me some vague details on a conference they wanted to attend. It was in Boston for IT Administrators. While researching it, I stumbled upon information on the International Association of Administrative Professional (IAAP) Education Forum and Annual Meeting (EFAM). At that point I had been an Executive Assistant for 14 year and had no idea there were conferences & associations specifically for my job. I spent the next 12 hours building a case for why I should attend. Turns out I didn’t need to put so much effort into it. The conversation went something like this.
“I found a conference for Executive Assistants. It is next month in Boston.”
I’ve been very blessed to work with people who understand the importance of developing employees. I joined IAAP and registered for EFAM. One month later I was in Boston.
Unfortunately, my first impression was not fabulous. The Chapter I joined was undergoing some growing pains. There was no online presence and no one responded to my emails. I arrived in Boston knowing no one and next to nothing about the association or what to expect at the conference. Once there, it seemed like the other 1,500 attendees all knew each other and no one gave me a second glance.
By the end of day one I was ready to pack it in and spend the week working from our Boston office instead of attending the conference. Then my guardian angel, Judith Yannarelli, swooped in. Judy spied me standing on the outskirts of the room, probably looking extremely uncomfortable, and descended. She introduced herself, quickly found out my story, and took on the mission of introducing me to EVERYONE!!
That week I increased my professional network exponentially, learned stuff that dazzled my team when I returned to the office, and changed the trajectory of my career. Six years later, I’m excited to be presenting on two topics at IAAP Summit (formerly EFAM) in Florida.
So why am I blogging about this? Because if Judy hadn’t noticed me looking uncomfortable and on the verge of giving up, my life could be very different now. If you are attending Summit for the first time, I challenge you to be braver than I was. Walk right up and introduce yourself. This is a very friendly and welcoming collection of individuals. If you don't feel you can be that brave, find me and I'll introduce you to some people. If you are a repeat attendee, please be on the lookout for first-timer ribbons on the badges or for those on the outskirts of the room. Make it a point to be inclusive. You have no idea what a huge difference it can make.
See you in Florida!!!
The Audacious Admin is Debbi L. Shaffer, an outgoing, resourceful and highly motivated executive assistant with 20 years of experience specializing in C-Suite Executive Support.