Several months ago, in the early days of the pandemic and work-from-home orders, my friend, Karen Herman, contacted me from her home in Florida. Her company, Gustie Creative, is an award-winning design consultancy that specializes in disruptive retail – that is, her firm crafts solutions to bridge online-to-offline retailing. I could tell right away that she was energized! While many people were working to get their wits about them and figure out how to get back to work, Karen was literally creating Solutions for Disrupting Disruption: COVID-19 Handbook – The Essential Guide for Brands and Businesses. This was her time!
Her beautifully designed handbook is chock full of creative ideas for powering forward despite the chaos of our time. While recognizing the impact that this coronavirus has had on the economy, on society, and on technology, Karen encourages us to embrace disruption. She describes an architype of a new consumer – one who is adaptive, deal seeking, demanding, and immediate in their actions, needs and expectations. This consumer is also informed, introspective, resourceful, and currently splurging as a result of unspent disposable income originally intended for luxury travel, expensive meals, or wardrobe purchases. Knowing and understanding this contemporary customer can give many of us and our careers new life in a new world.
For the handbook, Karen asked me to share some networking advice to disrupt disruption for those facing a career change as a result of the pandemic. I suggested these tips:
- Grieve and then move on. It’s tough to change careers – in good times and in less good times (like during pandemics!). It hurts. I recommend that you do your grieving. Go on – get it all out. Once that is done, take any residual resentment you have, pack it in a big empty suitcase, zip the case closed, tuck it under your bed, and never bring it out again. Others, especially prospective employers, don’t want to hear about it. Be prepared to put on a brave face, share all the reasons you loved your last position, what you learned from it, and express your keen interest in new opportunities.
- Bolster your networking. It’s always a good time to network! And, it is possible to network effectively even while sheltering in place. If you cannot meet in a safe, socially distanced manner at a local coffee shop or café, schedule a 20-minute Zoom call with your contact. Don’t forget, it’s important to network both with people you already know and people who are new to your relationship base. We all need networking – connecting with others in a meaningful, authentic way is a basic human activity. Be sure to start by creating a list of people you know and a second list of people you’d like to get to know. Hold yourself accountable to reaching out to those individuals. Once you’ve connected, keep the lists going by adding new names to them. Work to make this a lifelong habit – both when you need a job and when you have a job.
- Think creatively. Rather than focus on specific titles or functional roles in which you’ve served, consider ways to put your experiences to use in new ways, in new industries, in new roles. Your innovative thinking may lead to exciting opportunities that you never before imagined!
Join Karen and me in embracing this time by disrupting disruption. Even in the midst of uncertainty, opportunity abounds. Happy Networking!