BuzzFeed’s “10 Awkward Moments When You’re Unemployed” video may be humorous, but it is a bit of an eye opener for those who relate to it a little too well. As students, this scenario may be the omnipresent ghost of career future who has made himself far too comfortable considering he’s only a guest! Such bad manners, ghost of career future!
The reality is that many of us may be faced with some of the “moments” presented in this video. Whether we’re just entering the labour force, or in-between jobs, being unemployed is something we’ve all either already experienced, are currently experiencing, or will experience at some point in our lives.
That totally awkward question of “what do you do?” is a staple of almost any first encounter, especially while professionally networking. This post is about being prepared to answer this inevitable question when networking in a professional setting, and to hopefully better prepare you to skillfully and tactfully turn that awkward moment into networking success.
We had a networking workshop with our professor, Kim Denstedt, who taught us how to make a good first impression, how to be casual and natural about networking, and how to take the nerves out of meeting new people.
But the ease of speaking to people is just one step of the networking process. As marketers, we must understand that planning our networking initiatives is just as important as planning our marketing campaigns.
Plan your networking activities tactfully. Your personal networking plan could include a goal, objectives, strategies, and tactics.
First, write down a goal. Seriously, write it down. Possibly on a sticky note, and post it on your bathroom mirror, or nightstand, or make a personalized cell phone case with the goal written on it. Just put it somewhere where you will see it everyday and tell yourself your goal. Read it out loud.
“I will get a job that I am excited about and that is in my field.”
Next, your objectives. Your objectives should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time based (SMART). An objective could be to gain 3 network contacts per week. Or it could simply be to put on pants before noon everyday.
Strategies are all the ways that you will achieve your objectives. Potential networking strategies may include:
- Research, research, research!
- Using LinkedIn to network with your university or college alumni (you already have a connection, so use it!).
- Start a networking meet up group on Meetup.com in your area.
- Join a professional network and attend events.
- Cold call/email professionals on LinkedIn who are in your field.
- Obtain contact information from people you meet and send them an email reminding them where you met, and briefly about your conversation.
- Create and practice a 30 second “pitch” to highlight yourself and your achievements.
- Join relevant companies or groups on LinkedIn. Where do you aspire to work? Join them and follow their activity! Maybe even comment on their posts once in a while.
- Start a professional blog.
- Maintain your social media presence. Post about topics relevant to your field (especially on LinkedIn!), comment on other posts, find interesting articles, etc. Be the content marketer of your own destiny!
Finally, create a calendar of tactics that you will use to execute your strategies. An example could be to email a potential connection that you’ve researched on LinkedIn, and who you would like to connect with on November 4th by 11 am. Or, research an article that’s relevant to your field and post it on your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts on November 4th by 3pm. Be specific. Use dates and times. Follow your calendar. It will make networking less overwhelming.
Essentially, you have to market yourself, fellow marketer! Plan your course of action, outline your objectives, use some of the above strategies, make a calendar of tactics, follow said plan, land dream job.
For more information, click here for a great article on the top 10 tips for the unemployed professional.