“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.”
– Bob Marley
For me, there are two great truths about being laid off. The first is that it sucks. It’s hard not to feel singled out, slighted, and angry. I know that I am a hard worker and have always gone out of my way to be helpful to anyone who asks something of me, but after termination it’s impossible not to think to myself, “What could I have done to prevent this?” Sadly, the answer is often “nothing.” All too often a reduction in force is fueled by factors that have nothing to do with performance, likability, work ethic, knowledge, or cooperation.
The second truth is that discomfort can be a blessing in disguise. Whether it’s a sore muscle, relationship troubles, or the pain of losing a job, suffering is an opportunity to break old patterns and do something different. In my case, I was forced to rethink the direction my career was headed and ask myself what it is that I am really passionate about and where should I be applying my talents.
Thankfully, my wife and I are planners and listened to our finance guy when he advised us to keep enough liquid assets on hand to weather any unexpected storms. This meant that I didn’t have to jump at the first company that offered me a paycheck. I had the freedom to not only be picky, but to be thoughtful in my choice. So, while I was immediately offered a few quick pathways to employment, I knew that I had the luxury of playing a longer game.
Of course, money in the bank won’t find me employment. I need to get in front of potential employers and find ways to show them who I am, what I can do, and how I can help them to be more successful.
This is where networking plays a huge part in job hunting. However, networking should not start the day you are shown the door. It needs to begin long before you ever think you will need it. It’s also important to realize that networking isn’t limited to one-on-one relationships. While those are absolutely necessary, one-to-many relationships allow you to expand your influence to people you may never meet and to places you may never go.
I think of my blog, Tao, Zen, and Tomorrow (the former SIP Adventures), as my most powerful networking tool. It has over 2.5 million lifetime views, thousands of followers, hundreds of articles, and approximately one thousand views a day from every corner of the world. I never made a dime from any or my articles, but the exposure value has been priceless. I write what excites me in the hope it will excite others. So far, that has been a very successful formula — for my readers and me.
My blog led me to writing for No Jitter which only enhanced my name recognition. It’s the difference between self publishing and having Doubleday print one of my poetry books. The credibility factor of being a No Jitter author has opened many doors for me.
Next, there is public speaking. People would gasp and shake their heads when I told them I was presenting seven sessions at a conference like Avaya Engage or Enterprise Connect, but I knew what I was doing. Not only do I honestly enjoy standing in front of a crowd of technologists and playing professor, it was 30 to 50 more people a session to know who I am and what I am passionate about. Every conference brought in new blog subscriptions and every subscription is another person watching what I am up to on a very regular basis.
A large number of LinkedIn connections and blog subscribers isn’t what networking is all about, though. It’s about being honest about who I am, being willing to share what I know with friends, coworkers, and even competitors, and being an active listener to what others are willing to share. We all do better when we all do better.
While this article has been all about me, you don’t have to follow my exact steps to express your unique self. The point of this article is to know who you are, to not be afraid to tell the world, and to express integrity along the way. Don’t let others brand you. That’s your job.
Remember, you don’t need a blog and you certainly don’t have stand in front of people. That’s not for everyone. Make your own kind of music. Sing your own special song. Find what works for you and go for it with everything you’ve got to give.
I am very close to making a decision about my next place of employment and will have something to announce shortly. While a new employer will certainly change some aspects of my life, it won’t change how I express my passion for technology nor how I present myself to the world. In fact, I expect a bit of new job rejuvenation and hope to see a newfound enthusiasm for writing, creating videos, and public speaking. Stay tuned. I am not done yet.