This is why you network

As you may know, I spent the last 2.5 years as an account manager at an advertising and marketing agency in St. Cloud, MN. Flint Group was my home, and I loved nearly every moment there. But unfortunately, as life in the agency world so often goes, my position was recently eliminated in some agency restructuring, and  I found myself thrust into the world of job hunting.

byefelicia

From hourly refreshes of Indeed.com to numerous LinkedIn messages and dozens of resume and cover letter tweaks, I felt like a college senior again. After scheduling many interviews, I started to notice a common theme. Each interviewer I met with told me that they really want me to be interviewing them and their company as well… and I knew my pause was palpable. I tried to swallow this pit as I smiled and nodded, praising the companies and expressing my extreme interest with as much enthusiasm as I could, but my lack of excitement lingered.

Then one night, my phone beeped with a Facebook message, and when I opened it up and saw a name I recognized only professionally, I froze. It was the Executive Director of the St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She had an opening for a marketing position, and had gotten my name through a mutual contact who knew I was facing the end of my time at Flint Group. Would I be interested in learning more?

I almost fainted with excitement.

Later that week, I scheduled an afternoon meeting with her, Julie, from the CVB, and it took me approximately 2.38 seconds to realize that my dreams were about to come true. 2 weeks later, I received a phone call. The job – Social Media & Marketing Specialist position at the St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau – was mine if I wanted it. And I never even had to apply for it.

Horiz Logo Clipped

Needless to say, I accepted the position immediately, and I’m currently in my fifth week of employment. The job is more than I could have ever hoped for, and while I’m qualified because of my skills, I really got the position because of who I know. So now, time for a shout-out to…

NET-FREAKIN’-WORKING

Through my time at Flint Group, I was fortunate to have the flexibility to go to numerous networking groups, stay very actively involved in the community, and meet a number of influential people in the St. Cloud business community. I built relationships with business owners, young professionals and everyone in between.

In my 2 weeks of “unemployment,” I received at least 4 other calls from people who I knew through networking groups who wanted to see if they could help. I was offered short-term positions, side jobs, references and more. And in the end, I technically didn’t even have to apply for my new position at the CVB – my name was referred by a mutual contact through a networking group. I would never have gotten this job without her referral.

The point I’m really trying to make here, is to never give up on your networking, because you never know how it will help you. Sure, I was always representing Flint Group at my networking events, hoping to drive sales, awareness, etc. But really, I was representing myself even more than I knew. Was I attending meetings to find a new job? No, not even a little. But because I’ve taken the time & effort to build relationships with other business professionals, I now have a network that I can rely on for more than just sales calls. And honestly, that feels pretty good.

chamber

To sum it up, I’d like to thank all those in the St. Cloud Area who put their names on the line for me in the name of helping me find my next (absolutely amazing, dream) opportunity. You know who you are, and I cannot thank you enough for believing in me, supporting me, and proving to me that networking really does work.

And to the new group of amazing ladies I now get to call my coworkers, thank you for welcoming me with open arms and making me feel like one of the gang from day one. I’m so excited to see what the future holds for me at the St. Cloud Area CVB!

#EmilyFayeSays

 

 

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Staying productive during downtime

We all have it every once in a while (that includes you, busy-braggers) (you know who  you are): downtime. And while we may not admit it, we’ve all passed that time with mindless activities, be it chatting with coworkers about nonsense, perusing Facebook until our eyes burn, or scoring some sweet (unnecessary) deals from our favorite online retailer.

stop wasting

But as a young professional – especially one looking to stand out in their career field – how can we better-fill that downtime? How can you see it less as a detriment and more as a chance to grow? Here are some ideas that have worked for me.

Read industry news/blogs. 

Pretty obvious, but sometimes it’s hard to find that good content. Often times, your employer will already have online subscriptions to industry-related news sources that you didn’t even know about. Or, if you’re familiar with influential individuals in your industry, see if they have a blog or something like it that you can check out regularly. Being in the marketing industry with a passion for social media, here are a few sites/blogs that I frequent:

Convince & Convert

Adweek

TechCrunch

Social Media Examiner

Pro Tip: Subscribe to your favorite new sites’ email newsletters! Then you don’t have to hunt.

Jack up your LinkedIn. 

Notice I didn’t just say “LinkedIn Profile.” While I’ll never bash perfecting your profile, LinkedIn has even more than that to offer. Check out Pulse (under Interests) for articles related to your interests and industry. Follow companies you care about to stay up to date on their posts. Engage with clients, colleagues, and others in your network to grow your presence. Follow industry influencers to stay knowledgeable.

Pro Tip: Make sure you’re not viewing profiles anonymously, and then view with purpose. LinkedIn notifies users when someone views their profile, so if you’re looking to show up in someone influential’s notifications, it’s a good, non-invasive way.

Grow as a social media professional. 

When I first started in the world of marketing, all of my social media accounts were for personal use only. And that’s not to say I was posting inappropriate pictures or vulgar statuses all over, but I simply wasn’t using social for a professional purpose.

my twitter

Fast-forward 2 months, and I really started to gain an understanding for how I could use social media, specifically Twitter, in a professional sense. So, I decided to create a “professional-only” Twitter account, and I also took the privacy settings off of my Instagram account. Not only do I now use them for connecting with colleagues & clients, but they are now my “window to the world” in the marketing industry. I use them to connect with industry professionals to gain knowledge on industry trends. I use them to connect with others at industry-related events I attend. Plus, I love using my Twitter account for industry “chats” (specifically #AdweekChat). While I don’t devote every waking second to them, I do take advantage of downtime to update my profiles, find interesting things to share, discover new people to follow – you get the picture.

Pro Tip: While you should always keep a professional tone on your professional social media accounts, it’s okay to be silly/fun. Don’t sound like a robot – make jokes, comment genuinely, and, well, be a human!

Go above and beyond for your client/company. 

This might already be expected, but often times we’re too busy to devote time to it and then forget when we actually have time. Think about it: how can you go above and beyond to either wow the client or improve things within your company (or department)? Devote 20 minutes or so during downtime to thinking up “free ideas” for clients. Or spend 10 minutes chatting with coworkers about a certain work process to see how others feel it could be improved. Who knows, you might just come up with a big solution!

Pro Tip: Regularly block out time on your calendar for brainstorming. Good ideas often come from a flowing thought process, so avoiding interruptions can make for the best results.

& when all else fails… take a break.

I used to work for a company that allowed 15 minute breaks ever morning and afternoon to go for a group walk around the development. It might seem like a waste of time, but so often I came back more awake and energized and ready to start pumping out some great work. Removing your brain from the task at hand can recharge your system and get you re-inspired. Just make sure to check with your employer first 🙂

Pro Tip: If a walk isn’t your thing, offer to make a coffee run to a local Caribou or Starbucks. Ask your coworkers if they want anything. Not only will it get you out of the office for 15 minutes or so, but you’ll be delivering smiles (& caffeine) to your coworkers – win/win!

starbucks

What do you do with your downtime? How do you stay busy? Share your tips in the comments! & as always, thanks for checking out what #EmilyFayeSays!