When you go through a messy break up some might tell you that “it’s for the best.” While no one is likely to say that after a layoff, it truly can be “for the best.” Here’s how to go from feeling dejected to feeling delighted.
As someone who left executive roles in marketing and media to start her own business, I quickly realized being accomplished or having skills is only half the battle once you’re your own boss. Whether you’re envisioning your layoff as a first step on your path to self-employment or a moment to catch your breath and re-examine your career, the process is the same and here are some tips to keep in mind.
Network like a normal person
Chances are, you have built a network of friends, colleagues and second- and third-degree acquaintances. The key is in how you reconnect. According to career coach Becca Carnahan, more than 80% of jobs are filled through networking, and if you are striking out on your own, she says the search for clients is similar. Now is the time to activate those contacts–in a natural, sincere way. Basically, act like you would normally in a social setting.
Your process should be analytical and cold but your interactions should be warm. Think of everyone you know. I recommend organizing your contacts into potential clients, collaborators or gatekeepers. One person, who I had worked with very briefly, helped me secure two of my full-time jobs later in my career. You know who those connectors are.
I was a media executive receiving dozens of pitches and email introductions daily. My mental process went like this – strangers awkwardly spamming or messaging me: delete, friendly introductions from 2nd or 3rd degree people: consider.
And speaking of networking, LinkedIn is a great resource and Cinneah El-Amin, founder of the financial planning site Fly Nanced says “ensure that you are using the algorithm to your advantage.” She recommends using “clear concise keywords” and a little spiel explaining what you do, as well as searching the keywords you may use to see who else comes up. Do you want to be seen as a ‘founder,’ a ‘CEO’ or a ‘consultant’?
When emailing, be friendly, mention the mutual contact and be clear about what you’re asking for. And be brief. Save the detailed bio for your future memoir.
You’re not asking for a favor, you’re helping
Client prospecting (the phrase sends shivers down my spine) was a stressful concept when I left my career in marketing and journalism. I found success once I adjusted my mindset. I soon realized I’m not ‘asking’ or ‘begging’ someone to hire me for a project or consulting sessions. I’m trying to connect with businesses and professionals whom I can help. Once I realized my skill set of executive producing both high-quality digital video and podcast content for top-tier brands is unique, I no longer felt I’m “selling.” I realize now it is a mutual match. My on-camera and video coaching works the same way- these professionals want to grow and I’m equally invested in their success.
Or put another way, when you find a good client, they are happy to pay for your services. Both sides are happy. Same for job hunting – if you have unique skills, the best match is one where the hiring manager is thrilled to have found you!
I wish I had this realization during my first foray into entrepreneurship, which was my jewelry business, which I sold at Bloomingdale’s and Henri Bendel. The same attitude adjustment that is required for clients is also required if you’re pitching the press. As I pitched magazines to feature my brand (which they eventually did), I felt sheepish but should not have. I realized down the road that relationships with clients and the press is mutually beneficial, rather than a one-sided plea.
Growth and marketing strategist Frenchie Ferenczi reminds us, “your number one job as a business owner is to sell. You’re responsible for your revenue.” Basically we need to set aside our own shyness and ego and put ourselves out there.
Perfect your pitch
If you’re fumbling while explaining what you do when you meet someone, you need to practice your pitch. I stick to an ABC method. The A is for accolades: make sure to briefly state any accomplishments you have. B is for business: explain clearly and succinctly what you do and who you help. C is for confidence: you absolutely need to be (or at least sound) self-assured. Don’t see it as bragging, remember, you’re just introducing yourself and making it clear how you can help someone with their business. Your accomplishments are a part of you.
But again, be brief! An elevator pitch can be used for clients, for interviews and for pitching the press. Write down what you want to say, then try to remove 30% (or 80% depending on how long-winded you are) from it. Continue to edit it down, say it out loud and record it until it’s high-energy, compelling and very succinct.
Hiding from social media is hiding from success
If you are hiding on social media, you’re only hiding from your own success. According to Hubspot, video is the #1 form of media used in content strategy, more than blogs and infographics.
Good news–you don’t need to lip sync or do silly dances. Even better news–once you start harnessing social media you will have successfully unlocked a new client pipeline.
Videos showcase your personality and expertise. If you’re in a relationship business (real estate agents, lawyers, sales, small business owners), you benefit by building and cementing relationships through video content. One of my real estate agent clients secured a multi-million dollar home sale after we ran a video series focused on educating his ideal clients.
According to Sprout Social, all social networks’ algorithms reward native video content–meaning content you upload and publish directly on that platform, not pasting a link to push users elsewhere. Don’t worry, you can upload the same content to multiple platforms.
Once you begin to create video content, the algorithms will help you appear more in organic search and help you reach your ideal clients. This works on YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram and many others.
Podcasts are another popular way to reach new audiences, with one-third (104 million) of Americans listening to podcasts regularly, according to Buzzsprout. It’s an intimate and effective marketing tool, it can help position you as a thought leader and build your credibility and client base.
Nothing Lasts Forever
Realizing that as you enter this new career phase, it’s not a life sentence. Use this time to try out new areas and new roles. If you’re not sure self-employment is right for you in the long-term, being a consultant is the perfect opportunity to try out some new paths. Carnahan says if you’re open to taking on project-based work or a consulting role, “it can be a great way to see how you would work together” and that many consulting roles turn into full or part-time positions.
Kim Rittberg is an award-winning digital video strategist who runs Henry Street Media, which offers brand and content strategy, video and audio production and on-camera media coaching. She also hosts the podcast Mom’s Exit Interview.
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