For the first 15 years of my professional life, when I was working as a full-time employee, I had a mantra: “Always be looking.” Quite simply, I was always looking for a better or different job.
Now, that didn’t mean I didn’t like my current employer (I did, in some cases).
It didn’t mean I was physically always looking for a job (I’ll explain more in a minute).
It was simply a mindset: Always be looking.
And if you adopt that mindset, you will always have a job. I can all but guarantee it.
Because by adopting that mindset, what you’re really doing is adopting a whole new philosophy for how you manage and lead your career. Here’s what I’m talking about: You adopt this mindset, and you follow these four strategies and you won’t want for a job ever again (although, my attorneys say please don’t hold me to that; I am not a professional career counselor :).
#1: Organize one coffee or lunch per week with someone outside your organization
I haven’t always done this, but once I discovered the power of networking and meeting others face-to-face for coffee, lunch or happy hour, it changed the way I viewed my career. This really started for me just before I started my business. I was working at Fairview, and I was thinking about working for myself. I knew I would need a strong network, so I started to build it methodically. 1-2 coffees or lunches per week. Week after week. And always with someone OUTSIDE the organization (that’s a key–you HAVE to get outside your company’s four walls, even if you work at a big company like Target, Medtronic or Best Buy). But, having all those coffees and lunches did more than just build my network. It built my confidence. It put me at ease with meeting new people. And, over time, this decision has probably been the single-most important difference maker in my professional life.
#2: Actively seek out ways to help others in your network–shoot for once a month at minimum.
This pairs nicely with #1. Always be looking for ways YOU can help others. This is really counter-intuitive for many job seekers. After all, YOU’RE the one looking for a job! But, you definitely need to start by helping other people before you can help yourself. First rule of networking! The key here is it doesn’t have to be a big thing. It could be something as simple as sharing someone’s post on LinkedIn. But again, much like #1, if you start adopting this mindset, the results will be much bigger. You’ll feel much better about yourself because you are constantly helping others. You’ll again gain more confidence in your power to help others. And, most importantly, in the end, if you adopt this mindset for any length of time, what you’ll find is that others will start helping you–WITHOUT YOU EVEN ASKING! This is the one key to networking effectively that 90% of people overlook or don’t practice. And, it’s essential to never having to look for a job again.
#3: Actively participate on one social network–create, share and comment
Notice I said ONE! I don’t think you need to be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Insta, Snapchat and Plurk (wait, PLURK!?!?!?!?). But, you do need to SHOW UP online–somehow. Preferably, I would say LinkedIn, from a professional standpoint. At the very least, make sure your LinkedIn profile is always in tip-top shape. But, you can really participate in any social network. Why is this important? Because when you’re looking for a job, people research you online. If they find nothing, that’s weird. They need to find SOMETHING. Preferably, in our industry (PR/comms/social), they should find A LOT. Make sure they find a lot. Also: Social networks are great spaces to meet new people–just like you would in real life. So, meet new people! If you’re on LinkedIn, ask current connections to introduce you to new people. If you’re on Twitter, seek out others in our industry and follow them and engage with them. If you’re on Insta, same thing! But remember, just participate on one to start if you find social overwhelming.
#4: Get involved in and volunteer with at least one organization outside your employer each year.
This has been another staple of my success over the years–and it can do wonders for your career as well. I started with MN PRSA years ago as a new member and a volunteer on the student relations committee. That was key because it gave me an easy, less intimidating way to meet a bunch of people. After time on that committee, I was encouraged to get my APR–which I did. And I met more people. After that, I was asked to be on the board. And I met more people. A few years later, I repeated the same experience with MIMA, which I’m still involved with to this day. I spent a couple years volunteering for the Winona State Alumni board and met many new Warriors during that time. I spent a year or so volunteering with Bolder Options, where I met yet more people, including all-time Gopher great Darrell Thompson! The point: Getting involved in these organizations (and volunteering–that’s important) was a great way to meet a BUNCH of people–FAST. And really, all four of those organizations mentioned above continue to be great ways for me to meet more people.