For the past ten years I’ve been facilitating a networking group that is designed for senior level professionals and executives in transition called the Transition Café. While I’m happy to report that job search activity and opportunities for folks at these levels is quite robust, I still see many people finding themselves back in career transition every two to three years. With this “burn and churn” cycle it’s no reason that feeling expendable is a thought that can creep into one’s head. So how does one manage these feelings? First and foremost, you have to drop this notion that any company can place an expiration date on you. Instead of labeling yourself as expendable, try changing your mindset and think of yourself as expandable. So what are some ways you can do this?
1. Expand Your Network – Now we all know how important networking is, but very few of us do it, let alone do it effectively. While there are tactics and etiquette one can employ, the best way for you to become a great networker is to do it often and do it with purpose. All too often I see newly transitioned people immerse themselves in the networking game only to abandon the relationships they built once they land a job. If you want to truly recession-proof yourself, continue to build your community of contacts, and keep your network ALIVE. Make it a part of your normal work routine. Nurture and foster the relationships you’ve made, and always be building new ones. You know the saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and in reality, “it’s who you know WELL.” Need a place to start networking? Keep abreast of what’s going on in your community at local chamber events, and stay on top of industry trends in a professional association related to your field.
2. Expand Your Skill Set – Without a doubt, we should always be in a learning mode and adding to our knowledge base. Whether you’re in transition or not, now is the time to take stock of your inventory of skills, talents, passions and goals and begin creating a plan to position yourself for continued success. Are you a bit weak on the social media side? Take a class on how you can build your social media presence and personal brand. And if you are employed, don’t necessarily wait for your employer to pay for training. Make the commitment to invest in yourself! In business you’ve probably heard of conducting a SWOT Analysis, which is essentially identifying your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Don’t be intimidated by this acronym. It’s basically a gap analysis of where you are today and where you want to be in the future. Keep it simple by really thinking through this exercise and devising a plan to better yourself. Do you want that competitive edge? Then don’t wait until you’re in transition. Be proactive and do your SWOT analysis now vs. being reactive and doing it after you lose your job.
3. Expand Your Income Possibilities – For most people, diversifying their income stream is a “foreign” concept, but in today’s world this strategy is probably one of the best ways to recession-proof yourself. Now let me qualify this by saying this approach is not for everybody, but it’s worth consideration. Some ways to do this would be by freelancing on the side, consulting, sub-contracting, ecommerce, owning income producing investments like rental properties, and business ownership. In my world of franchising, we have clients that work full-time jobs and also operate what we call semi-absentee franchises. Their goal is to create another income stream to not only supplement their income and build wealth, but to also protect themselves from relying on only one source of income, their current employer. I have a career coach friend who refers to this as creating a Portfolio Career. Kind of like creating an investment portfolio but for your career. It’s all about diversification and not putting all of your eggs in one basket.
4. Expand Your Volunteering – Do you have a desire to build your leadership skills? Make amazing contacts with high caliber, well-connected people? Be a part of your community? And most importantly, do something that is fulfilling and gives back to society? Then bolster your volunteer activities. Volunteering clearly provides both social and professional benefits, but it can also be an amazing mood booster for us.
5. Expand Your Comfort Zone – This last suggestion essentially encapsulates all of the ideas mentioned above by continuing to challenge ourselves to get out of our comfort zones. Doing all or some of these things is not easy. It takes time, thought, and commitment. However, you don’t have to be a super hero to initiate these activities. Perfection is not the ultimate goal. Start with one goal and continue to expand. See what works for you and gets you jazzed up. It’s all about growing and improving ourselves. Apply this mindset, and make the uncomfortable, COMFORTABLE!
About the Author:
Dan Aronoff has over 20 years of business experience working for both small and large companies, most notably in the human resources arena. He had the opportunity to work with Exxon Corporation, Kraft Foods, Kendle International (a pharmaceutical clinical trials organization) and his family’s business, Goldner Associates, which is an advertising specialties company. In 2005 he fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming an entrepreneur by buying the Tennessee territory of FranNet-The Franchise Connection, a franchise matchmaking service (www.FranNet.com/daronoff). Dan taught Franchise Management to students in the School of Entrepreneurship at Belmont University in the Fall of 2011 and continues to speak to aspiring Belmont students. Since 2006, he has also facilitated the Transition Café, a networking event for senior level professionals and executives in career transition (www.TransitionCafe.com).