By Chandra Turner
Chances are good that you already know that more people find jobs through their network than any other way. Every career coach (or heck, your mom) will tell you, tap your network! The frustrating thing is WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC and HELLO, it ain’t so easy to tap that network right now. There are no (live) conferences where you can accidentally bump elbows with a hiring manager or future client. No happy hours where you can get that lead from your friend’s friend. And no elevator rides where you can run into your old work wife who is now hiring.
Networking was hard before, but now it seems downright impossible!
That’s what most of my coaching clients say to me, and I have to admit, it can feel like that right now. But it’s not impossible. Here are some ways you can keep your network strong and build it up until we can cling cocktails and accidentally bump into each other again.
Give in to Linked In. I can hear you groaning from here. Yes, Linked In can be a drag. But the people who are hiring are on there. And people who are looking for jobs. Together that’s a lot of people — people you know and should be connected with! First: Update and optimize your profile. Second: Friend old bosses, colleagues, friends, and even neighbors (I had no idea my neighbor ran a content agency! Now she’s a client!). Third: Engage! The more you post, or comment on posts in your network, the more you are seen. The more you are seen, the more people remember you, the more people remember you they will recommend you to others (for advice, for jobs, whatever!). I have been pleasantly surprised how many new clients have found me on Linked In during the pandemic. Embrace it!
Become a Member. There are tons of groups where media folks can connect, learn about job opps, find mentors, and gain new skills and tools for your careers. Many of them have smartly adapted to provide online events and programming where mingling is encouraged (thanks to the magic of Hopin and other Zoom-like interfaces). You’ve probably heard of NY Women in Communications (NYWICI), the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME), and Women’s Media Group (WMG), but you should also consider niche organizations like Fashion League (for fashion editors), Association of Healthcare Journalists (self explanatory!) or Freelance Success (for freelance writers). There are also a growing number of organizations for POC in media that offer all kinds of great networking opportunities, virtual and eventually IRL. Yes, some will cost you some money. And yes, money is tight right now. But it’s worth investing in yourself right now!
Join a Facebook Group. Even if you’re on a break from your feed (I get it!), you may want to make an exception for Groups. There are so many fabulous and free Facebook groups that let you mingle exclusively with people who get you and your career angst like no other. For instance, I am a member of a group for recruiters and career coaches — and I run a few Groups myself including After Magazines (exclusively for former FTE print magazine editors) and Find Your First Job in Media (exclusively for recent grads). There are also a ton of other groups that my coaching clients have found helpful with advice and their job search, such as: What’s Your Plan B? (for traditional print journalists), Content Marketing Lounge, PR, Media & Marketing Czars, Binders Full of Writers Seeking Editors, Content Marketing for Women, and Content Marketing Collective. Many FB groups host virtual events and programs, many for free. Note: You can just be a lurker, in these groups. But if you participate in the conversations (in a positive way, of course), you are more likely to make real connections that can expand to real life.
Host a Holiday “Party” or Virtual Reunion. In the spring we were Zooming left and right with former colleagues and old high school friends (well, at least I was!). But that started to fade once the pandemic fatigue set in. Now that we are gearing up to a party-less holiday season, it’s time to bring back the Zoom reunions and virtual happy hours! Be the one to organize an online get-together of your former defunct magazine staff (Hey, my CosmoGirls! Let’s do it!), old work lunch tribe, or just a reconnect with your former work wife or cubemate from two jobs ago. Chances are they’d love to hear what you are up to — and who knows? They may have some job or more networking leads.
Volunteer Your Time. Make a point to connect friends or colleagues you think would benefit from knowing each other, even if they aren’t actively job seeking. And especially if they are! If someone posts that they need a connection at your company’s HR or a lead on an open position, provide it. Or tag someone who can. Same goes for sharing job posts and project work from hiring managers and assigning editors. It allows you to participate in conversations where people see you in a positive light (especially if all you do is lurk!). And those you’ve helped will remember your kindness and pay it back. If they don’t, the universe certainly will. I have built my career on this career karma philosophy and wouldn’t be where I am without it. Stay well, my friends, and stay connected.
Chandra Turner is founder and CEO of Ed2010 and Talent Fairy. She is a talent recruiter specializing in the content and media space. She also offers personalized career coaching for media professionals at all stages of their career.
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Photo: Unsplash by Chris Montgomery