Tech for assistants

Administrative Assistant
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If you're an administrative assistant, you're pretty much the Swiss army knife of your workplace. Odds are, people expect you to take flawless minutes during meetings, schedule and plan events, stay on top of hundreds of emails, share information with the office and generally keep a million details in your mind at any given moment. Thankfully, the days of memos and Rolodexes are behind us. Now, there are dozens of excellent tools out there that can make your daily life a lot easier.

These are our 7 favorite tech products for administrative assistants, and most are free.

Manage social media: HootSuite

HootSuite
These days, many administrative assistants, especially those employed in SMBs, are responsible for maintaining social media accounts. Of course, doing that on top of all the other organizational tasks that need to happen can be daunting, and, as a result, SMB social media often suffers. Enter HootSuite, a social media management platform that allows you to create and save social media posts, and then set them on a timer.

Within HootSuite, you can manage your company's Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts without toggling back and forth from your personal account to the corporate account, which can be a recipe for disaster.

There are analytics built into HootSuite, so you can track how successful campaigns have been and measure customer engagement. HootSuite offers a free trial, but even their Pro subscription is affordable ($19 a month with 10 social profiles supported).

Get Meeting Availability: When is Good

When is Good
When is Good has been a mainstay of assistants for some time now, and even though the design leaves a lot to be desired, it still gets the job done. Planning a meeting with dozens of executives and board members can be nearly impossible when you don't have access to everyone's availability.

With When is Good, you create a free account and then select potential meeting times that work for your executive; you can choose as many or as few choices as possible. Then, you email a link from When is Good to all invitees. When they click the link, they'll see the availability you've selected, and click on the times and days that work for them. Once everyone has responded (which you can easily track) you can visit your results page and see which times worked for the most people.

Start to finish, When is Good is a timesaver and a major stress saver when it comes to scheduling meetings with busy professionals, and it's totally free.

Share travel itineraries and directions: TripIt

TripIt
If you're tasked with managing travel for one or more executives, you're already familiar with how complicated it is to share updates on itineraries and keep everyone on the same page. TripIt is a free app that's compatible with all mobile devices (and integrates with Concur), and it does all the difficult communication for you.

Once you make accommodations, TripIt automatically creates a mobile itinerary for the individual, and you can maintain multiple itineraries for different people at the same time. If you forward all of the travel confirmation emails (hotel, car, flight) to the TripIt app, it automatically organizes them in one place, which means you and the person you're planning the trip for have easy access to all the travel information.

You can even add directions to a TripIt itinerary, so the exec your planning for can open TripIt and not only see all their flight and hotel info but also directions from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the conference center, etc.

You can sign up for TripIt for free, but there are also paid versions available.

Manage your emails: Followup.cc

Followup.cc
Staying on top of the avalanche of emails you receive daily is much easier when you use Followup.cc. This incredible timesaving extension integrates with your inbox and makes it possible to set timed reminders on each email.

You can add an auto follow-up email, send emails at a specified date and time, track emails and receive live notifications when emails have been opened, or set follow-up times for future dates/times.

With Followup.cc, an email thread will never slip through the cracks again; in fact, this tool is great for PR and sales people, event coordinators and any other professional who conducts lots of business via email. Folowup.cc is $18 a month for the entry-level subscription, but you can try it for free.

Take notes and record audio: AudioNote 2

AudioNote 2
If you're the minutes master of your office, but you're tired of your wrists cramping during marathon meetings, give AudioNote 2 a try. This free app is used by professionals and students alike, and it's fantastic for capturing rapid-fire conversations during meetings.

AudioNote 2 allows you to take notes the way you usually do, and then link them with recorded audio clips. This app automatically cuts out long pauses when no one is talking, reduces atmospheric noise and makes it easy to pause or stop recording. You can take notes with a keypad or a stylus and even integrate PDF slides directly into your notes.

You can export your notes (complete with embedded media) to a file sharing platform like Dropbox or iCloud, or you can email them. AudioNote 2 is free and the Pro subscription is $6.99 a year.

Share files: Dropbox

Dropbox
Dropbox is a great file sharing option for administrative assistants at SMBs and startups because there's a free version, it works across all operating systems, and it's reliable.

If you're in a position where you're frequently sharing files with people outside your company, like clients or contract workers, Dropbox is a good option because, odds are, the individuals you're sharing with already know how it works.

There is a free version of Dropbox available (called Dropbox Basic), but if the business you're working for starts to outgrow Basic, you can always upgrade to Standard ($12.50 per user, per month) or Advanced ($20 per user, per month).

Manage contacts: Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM
If part of your job as an assistant includes managing client contacts, now is the time to ditch your Excel spreadsheet and upgrade to a product that's intended for tracking leads and storing customer information.

Zoho CRM is built for teams, and it seamlessly integrates with other commonly used products, such as Google apps, WordPress, MailChimp and, of course, the entire Zoho suite. Zoho CRM works across all mobile devices and makes updating client information, tracking sales and communicating easier; in fact, you can even message other Zoho CRM users within the app.

There is a free version of Zoho CRM available (for up to 10 users), which is great if you're in the position of convincing others at your company that a solution, (and a most affordable CRM at that) will save time and reduce confusion, but there's also a paid version. The Standard subscription starts at $12 per user per month (billed annually) and the Professional version costs $20 per user per month (billed annually).