Editor’s Note: Terez Baskin is a fashionista and blogger who I met on Twitter. She has such a unique job seeker story and perspective, I invited her to share her story.
Being a Blogger – everyone and literally their mom is a blogger. Some people blog for years. I used to journal. Seriously, I have journals dating back to my Jr. high school years. I think, wait, I know if I started blogging years ago and stuck with it. I know now my life would be completely different. Now I write for others like this guest post you are reading now. I write for large business community websites. I also have a personal blog, and a website that I manage with several other writers and guest writers about fashion.
I am building a portfolio that is clearly defined for me. Each place has a distinct community. My business blog readers want to read about social media and new technology and brand strategy. My fashion community may not want to read about my social media strategy. They come for style advice, and designer information I share. Each channel has a different community. I am not saying that this is what you should do, but it is what I do because I want to stay on message in each space. And be true to the collective community that I’ve built.
1. Can’t Find an Opportunity Create One. You may think this sounds silly, but an opportunity isn’t always accessible. This is your time to meet the needs of others with the skills you have to build your brand. I started volunteering my skills for local boutiques who wanted the knowledge I possessed for little in exchange.
But the truth is you gain a lot. You gain someone who appreciates the help, but you also get something in the deal too. You get the chance to build a real world resume which can some times kick the ass of what you learned in school any day. I opted to do this while in school, because I couldn’t afford to intern full-time, but I needed the experience to make a career change. With this experience, you can also build a name for yourself and ask your client for referrals. These will lead to paid positions that can put real money in your pocket while you wait to work for your dream company.
2. Build a Community. Only in the movie field of dreams does, “If you build it, they will come” work. Everyone says network. I say don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk. I love being the connector in my community. Especially my Social Media Family. I continue to stay in contact with people I’ve met off-line. I am a business card pimp. I will take it, but I use it. I will follow-up with useful information. Connect with people on LinkedIn, Follow them on Twitter, send them an e-mail with more information we discussed. During the interview recently, I spoke about an article I’d recently wrote about Pinterest. In my thank you e-mail I send the link to that article. Your community wants what you have to offer. They don’t want your spam. So be genuine in the connections you make.
I set a goal to reach 500 connections on LinkedIn before February 1, 2012. I met my goal, but when I started I had nearly 300 connections and felt like my love for social media needed testing. I didn’t follow the rules. LinkedIn will expect you only add connections you know offline. I feel that is silly. No offense, but if the people you know offline aren’t going to get you to your goal then you need to branch out. Connect with like-minded people in your LinkedIn groups, your city, your industry. Whatever it takes to get where you want to go. At a recent conference, someone stated you need to build the community before you need it. Well mine is ripe for the picking when I need them.
3. Make your search your Side Hustle and don’t slack on yourself. If you are working a full-time job, make your part-time job looking for the job of your dreams. During the few times, I was in between jobs. My job search was my full-time job. I set up Google Alerts for myself about a certain career or company. If they just landed a big new client or contract then, I knew they would be open to add new people. I read everything about my industry and make sure that people who are in positions of power know my name and my face. The truth is they are looking for someone who is amazing at what they do. The search shouldn’t be difficult for someone who is clearly visible in the places they are already looking. I look for a new job every day. If that sounds hard-core, then you aren’t serious about making a change. If you do something so specialized that you skills will walk you in the door then great for you, but many people now are over qualified for the very few positions that are out there. My advice is you better get up pretty early to get a jump on the competition. This brings me to my last and final point, be a lifelong learner.
4. Being a Lifelong Learner means an investment in brand YOU. There are plenty of free resources out there. You just need to hunker down and get to learning. I love reading about a new product or service for Social Media, Community Management, and Public Relations in general. I want to know what is new. I attend conferences regularly. I love being around others who share my passion about all things social, and I always walk away learning something new.
Then I love to learn in a hands on approach. How does this work? Let me just use HooteSuite and find out. I will sign up for the Beta test for a new program. But I realize that is brave quirky me. I love to be in on something before its open to the public. I had to get an invite to first use Gmail, back in 2004, and I loved it. It was the same feeling I got when I received an invite for Google+. It is the rush of learning something new and sharing that knowledge with my offline community about online things.
I know this is not an exhaustive list, but it is what has allowed me to stay sane until I reach my goal. I want to be strategic about the process I am using so that I can compare what does and does not work. Let me know if you’ve tried something that you found to be helpful and you believe could be useful to others. We all can learn from each other. Let me know if any of these sound good to you. If you don’t understand something, please free to send me an e-mail. I am always here to help.
Terez Baskin is a Chicago based fashion blogger and freelance public relations/social media consultant. She loves educating others about social media and branding. You can find her online via Twitter @terezbaskin or LinkedIn. You can also contact her for more information at terez(at)dbabetta(dot)com.