[11.12.09]
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Taking A Productive Day Off During Job Search

This post is about taking a productive day off to help others during job search.

As job seekers, it is easy to get a bit full of ourselves. Not so much in an arrogant way.  We just get caught up.

productive day off

For good reason, our lives transform into a very self-directed effort.  And the timing is right.  No one is going to blame you.  Because they know that this focus is part of the process of finding work.

But it also can be too much.  It can cause you to become selfish, obsessive and often lose perspective.

So here’s a simple idea to help break you out of this cycle in job search.

Take a productive day off

For one day, take the focus completely off your search.  And focus it on the needs of your network.

Pick an event that you know and where people know you.  Let the entire focus of that event be on how you can help others.

But, how, you say?

  1. Walk in completely unprepared. Don’t bring a resume. No networking biography. And no networking business card. Your goal is to be unencumbered with your own marketing materials. Not distracted by your normal mission.
  2. Find the group manager, introduce yourself and ask them if there is anyone they know of who needs networking support in your industry or function.  Someone who is struggling.  And ask for an introduction.
  3. Circle the room one time and look for three people who look uncomfortable, available and perhaps ready to leave.  Walk up to each (one at a time) and introduce yourself.  Ask them questions about what they are looking for in their next role, why they came to this event and how you might able to support their search.
  4. Once you’ve met “the three”, consider introducing them to each other.  Encourage them to grab a coffee the next day to build a relationship beyond the quick introduction.
  5. Consider bringing your spreadsheet for sharing job leads and have a goal of adding five new people to it during the event.  Make sure you get very specific information about their objectives.

Beyond the obvious value of helping others, there are a few really important benefits to you.  This is the selfish part.

Take the focus off of yourself

By taking the focus off of you for one day, you get a new perspective.  You see new opportunities to do something good with your time “in between”.  And you can put a new, fresh energy to your search the next day.

You’ll get help in return

People will see your effort and want to return the favor.  The people you help.  The people who notice you helping others.  Including, perhaps, the group manager.  Who needs volunteers for the next meeting.  And volunteering gets you noticed within a group.  You are now someone who knows how the group works and how someone new can learn the ins and outs of membership.

It’s good for your personal brand reputation

You create a positive image for yourself in the networking community. An osmosis of sorts begins to occur as ideas, new friends and job opportunities begin to flow to you on a more regular basis. You attract the help of others.

And I’d suggest doing this once a month. Perhaps you pick a different event each time.

Of course there is a hybrid version of this. You can pick the first half of the day to be about others and the second half to be about your search effort. Or you can mix and mingle the two as is commonly done.

But I think the idea of taking a productive day off and completely taking the focus off of you for a full day makes sense. It will have a bigger impact on you and on the people you meet.

Give it a try. And let me know whether it worked.

For you. And for your network.

Thanks Georgie Pauwels for the photo via Flickr.


Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Career Networking

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