Get Connected- Surviving and Thriving in the New Economy!

By Mary Gardner, for the Orlando Business Journal

I just finished up a workshop for the unemployed and the biggest take away came as such a shock to me, since I’ve been an entrepreneur for 16 years. It’s the fact that many of the people who are unemployed have been “company” people their whole career, some of them at the executive level who got early retirement, and they have never given any thought to starting a business, freelancing or temporary work. They had seen themselves primarily as an employee and now are feeling stuck because some of them had sent out nearly 200 resumes and hadn’t gotten but a few phone interviews.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics most jobs are never advertised and are found through personal contacts. One source mentioned that 80% of jobs were found through their own network and not through job listings via the computer. The two largest job listings of Monster and Career Builder receive thousands of resumes per job listing the chances are slim that your resume will get noticed.

So, what should a person do if they’re stuck without work and are not able to get the ball rolling or they’ve lost a lot of their work that they did have if they are an entrepreneur? I spoke at the Winter Garden Rotary recently and shared the strategies to adjust to the new economy. Here’s the outline, which is based on the Acronym ‘I CREATE’

1. I am responsible- If you’ve lost work, then use this time to strengthen the other aspects of your life, i.e.: relationships, health, develop dreams, enhance your spirituality, and as you build up the other areas of your life, the stress of the financial situation won’t be as difficult. If you’re floundering, go to workshops, join groups on www.meetup.com and hit the social networking scene.
2. Change has occurred- Things are different now and won’t be going back to the way they were. Many companies have downsized or gone out of business. Many industries will never return. But we’ve all been through this before! Remember these jobs that have fallen by the wayside? Typesetting, secretarial dictation, IBM punch card operator, and the Fax Machine Operator? It’s possible your job will never return so it’s important that you accept it, and get busy with a new plan!

3. Readjust Expectations- Many of us were used to a certain work lifestyle of conferences, paid dinners on the company or staying in cushie hotels. Regular increases of wages were also common, work came in pretty steadily and a lot of people enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. But, the past is the past, and we’re living in a different world and have to adjust to what it takes to make it.

4. Eliminate Baggage- Cut the fat from your business, and from your life. A core concept in coaching is to eliminate the tolerations from your life. What does that mean? That means get rid of whatever is draining you! Clean out the clutter in your office so you can focus on what matters. Eliminate people who are negative from your life and turn off news stories that aren’t positive. Replace your news with www.twitter.com and follow people who are going to stimulate your mind and challenge your thinking, and bring new insight to you. This is the NEW News!

5. Analyze all possibilities- Consider going back to school. With the new stimulus package there is money available for financial aid. After speaking with my good friend, Julia Daniel, enrollment recruiter for Ashford University (www.ashford.edu) she suggests finding an online school whose tuition for four years will fall under what monies you can access from the government. Some online universities are more expensive and you’ll be stuck in the middle of finishing your degree and will be on your own. Find out more by contacting her directly at julia.daniel@ashford.edu Some of the top industries of the future are IT/computers, education, environment, energy, health care, federal government, law, aerospace manufacturing and security. All of these growing industries will be easier to access if you have the right education or credentials.

6. Team up with others-This can be for the job search or working on a project with others. Get back in touch with old employers to see if there are part time or freelance opportunities. Meet people at Job Fairs, or workshops. Develop new friends on Twitter.com or Secondlife.com. Send out your resume or a menu of services to your friends and ask them to send it out to their networks. Offer a contest to give your services away to 10 people for a week and blast your email network. Ask your friends who they can introduce you to and go on informational interviews to see if you like what others are doing. People are willing to help others now, just like after 9/11 when our country was in a crisis, people WILL help you if you ask!

7. Enact a new plan- Get your game face on! This is the time to be aggressive, not depressed and sitting back and wondering what the government will do to bail you out! Start your networking plan by joining networking sites like Linked In, Facebook, Plaxo, JobFox, Ecademy, Twittermoms, or any that are a fit for you. Get involved and let people know that you’re an expert at what you do by providing good information!

My good friend Dwight Bain, a fellow coach and therapist uses the term, “Portfolio Career” to explain how to pull this entire process together.

Here’s how he explains it: “Portfolio income, (like a pie graph from a financial or stock portfolio), is what I call having multiple streams of income flowing into your business. And in these tough financial times when people have seen their retirement portfolio decrease, it's more important than ever to keep building value into their professional life with the addition of strategic choices to create another income stream. How do they find it? Well, you start by finding a coach to guide you in 're-engineering' your career path because they can help you move from frustration to fulfillment in mapping out the next steps to a better life.”

To sum it all up, I love the quote by a man who suffered more than most of us will ever endure, Viktor Frankl, who wrote the book, “Mans’ Search for Meaning” about surviving the Holocaust concentration camp. He said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”

If he can survive that, then we know that we can endure this!

About the author: Mary Gardner is a Communication Coach and columnist for the Orlando Business Journal. Access all of her coaching resources at www.MaryGardner.com

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