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- The Art of Getting Approval -

The scenario is all too familiar. You become aware of a great workshop, or conference for Executive Assistants. The content is of interest and you know it will help you in your role. You walk into your Executive's office to request approval to attend only to hear “no, because........”. You walk out. End of story.

Selling your executive on supporting your professional development is a skill - the art of persuasion. Don't view this as a "yes" or "no" exercise, instead start you preparation with the thought "This is a great program. This will help me become a better Executive Assistant and a more valuable employee. How will I sell this to my executive?” You now have your subconscious working on developing ideas and language on how to get a “yes” from your executive.

Some think “My executive will never approve this” so they never present their case. It’s all in positioning your thinking. You have to really believe that you are worth investing in and that you and your executive will both win big with this investment.

Before you can “sell” someone else to support you, you have to be 100% convinced that you need and deserve training. If you are not convinced of your own value and need to grow, you will not be able to persuade anyone else. Use the guidelines below to help you gain support for your professional development what ever it may be. Help your executive see why it is beneficial to invest in your education and how your executive will also win as a result.

You need to continually learn and grow. In today’s competitive marketplace and at the pace this profession is changing, if you do not continually enhance your skills, build new ones, and have a strategy for your career, you will get left in the dust.

Don’t feel guilty about being out of the office to attend a program or conference that will make you better equipped, faster, smarter and sharper.

Get your executive to see the long-term payoff. Often executives think about the number of days you will be out of the office. You need to help them see that while you may be gone three or four days, you will gain skills and knowledge that will take you, and them, into the future.

Executives travel all over the country. Why shouldn’t you? Some assistants tell me they can only attend seminars that take place in their city or state. That is not 21st Century thinking. Assistants should be a business partner to their executive, so start acting like a business partner and convince your manager why you should be allowed to travel out of state.

You need to be selective. You no doubt receive lots of information on seminars, conferences, and workshops for administrative and executive assistants. Some things to consider are:

Who is the speaker? What qualifies them to speak on the subjects covered?

What is the value of the program? In other words, what are you getting for your money? Any extra events such as a welcome dinner? What meals are included? Of course, the content should always be the most important but when you are comparing one seminar to another and can only attend one, you need to consider these other aspects.

How is the training delivered? Is this a lecture or will you be actively involved in the learning process?

Don’t give up. If you really believe this training will help you professionally or even just rejuvenate your enthusiasm about your career, realise it may take three or four attempts to convince your Executive. You may have to try different ways or formats to persuade your executive and, remember, timing is important.

Most of the time assistants tell me they can’t attend our programs because of budget cuts. Sometimes it really is a budget issue. I understand that perfectly. But often, it’s just lack of knowing how to sell the program to the executive. Have the courage to go after what you want. That in itself is a learning experience!

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