I’ve always loved the idea of strategic disruption and I can’t stress how important that is when you’re on the job hunt. In 2016, we have so many creative ways of promoting our brands with evolving social media marketing tools. Facebook brand pages, Snapchat geofilters, Twitter ad campaigns. The key is using those types of platforms to create a unique strategy to disrupt the regular job hunting routine and get people’s attention.
Since parting ways with Entertainment Tonight Canada as an online producer and strategist, I’ve learned to devote extra time and energy into promoting my own personal brand. Here are a few things that I’ve picked up:
Become a LinkedIn master
LinkedIn is now your Batcave. Not Facebook, not Twitter, not Instagram…definitely not Peach. It’s LinkedIn. If your kung-fu isn’t strong on LinkedIn, then you have some work to do. Some of you may be inclined to say “Well that’s weird, I have an enormous following on Twitter or I get an average of 500 likes per photo on Instagram!” Congratulations, use that mojo to your advantage, but LinkedIn is the platform for career building. It’s not the place to post about how happy you are the Toronto Raptors won. It’s the place to post about how impressed you are with the advertising strategy behind the “We The North” campaign.
LinkedIn is the platform to best build your professional presence and working relationships with strangers. It will also help you find out how to best package your industry skill-set. You’ve probably heard this before, but make sure your LinkedIn profile is completely filled out, elaborate and up-to-date. Start searching how other people in your market are advertising their background and job titles. And no, for the final time, it’s not weird to “stalk” other people’s LinkedIn profiles. Right now, you’re making moves for your career. Stop worrying about speculation.
Invest in a business card
When I found myself on the job hunt at the beginning of October, I realized that it was finally time to take personal branding one step further with my own business cards. I don’t regret it for a moment. If you’re keen on networking and meeting people while on the job hunt, it’s imperative to leave them with something more professional than “here, type my e-mail into your phone.” And no, the “here, take my old business card from the company I used to work for” doesn’t cut it. Put some time into creating a personal card that remains a quick calling card to your brand. Hell, it doesn’t even have to include all the bells n’ whistles like all your social handles, phone number, e-mail and freelance job title. I created and ordered a clean and contemporary one that just includes my e-mail and Twitter handle on one side and a loud and engaging photo of myself on a red carpet on the other side. It doesn’t clarify exactly what my skills are, but you can be damn well sure that once I give my elevator pitch to a contact, this will be a card that keeps my face and conversation in their mind afterwards.
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Nail your elevator pitch
Some people talk about acing this ability to summarize your entire life-being into a couple of words. I wish you all the best on that path to advertising stardom. In the meantime, focus on a repetitive and engaging sound bite that summarizes why you’re valuable. Take 1-2 sentences to nail what you bring to the table and where you’re looking to go in the future. It’s important to be able to explain to a stranger your most recent claim-to-fame and what type of work you’re looking to excel in.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have at least two cups of coffee per day. According to experts, caffeine actually provides a…okay I’m just messing with you. What I was going to say is how important it is to schedule as many coffee dates as you can with prospective contacts. And we’re not talking about contacts who have a clear cut job opening in their company for you, we’re talking about grabbing coffee with people in your industry – who may not have any benefit to your job hunt in the short term, except just an opportunity for you to leave your mark. It’s as simple as getting in contact with someone and asking if they wouldn’t mind grabbing a coffee so that you can gain some insight for your career hunt. Be sure to put a time limit on the request though – asking for 20-30 minutes is a lot more action oriented than having the contact wonder how long the coffee will be. Bring questions. Listen. And good lord, please make sure to follow-up with a brief thank you note within 24 hours or less after the meeting.
RELATED: Etiquette for a Coffee Chat
Learn to play the long game
Networking is a bit like dating, in the sense that you have to make sure you don’t scare people off the moment you meet them. You’re not there to yell “GIVE ME A JOB, DAMNIT!” You’re there to say “I’m worth keeping in contact with, even if there’s no job available for me.” Your goal isn’t to gain a solution out of the immediate conversation. It’s to create the first step of a longstanding business relationship. Your immediate needs of gaining employment will have a higher chance of being met if you show people they’re of more interest to you than this single interaction. Who knows if this will be a contact that you might be collaborating with in the future? Stop thinking about the short game, think about the long game.
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