How to gain career traction with two easy actions! Part One

Clients and students often tell me they can’t invest in their career or take advantage of an opportunity that will move their career forward because they can’t afford to.

Does your career feel stuck in the mud? You can get in momentum and start gaining career traction today with these two surprisingly simple action steps.

NUMBER ONE: Start a savings account for your career.

I’m sure it’s not what you were expecting me to say but it’s TRUE.

Having access to capital is how businesses grow and your career is a small business built on the brand of you.

Clients and students often tell me they can’t invest in their career or take advantage of an opportunity that will move their career forward because they can’t afford to.

Does this sound familiar?

You want to upgrade your equipment or your marketing, take special classes and trainings, get one-on-one coaching to improve your meeting and audition skills or manage your nerves and self-doubt, attend a festival or industry event with powerful network potential, fly in for a job interview, a chemistry test, final callback or strategic general meeting (which may sound surprising but in a lot of situations especially at the network level you have to fly yourself in. Ted Allen flew himself to New York on his own dime multiple times for the many rounds of callbacks for Queer Eye. That was 18 years ago. He’s still on TV)…

…but you can’t afford to so you tell yourself, oh no, I can’t do that.

Turn I can’t do that into I Can and I Will by being creative, strategic and investing in your career.

Step one: Create a savings account for your career separate from your personal savings for home, car, vacations.

I appreciate that life is expensive and this may seem daunting at first. Shush the pesky voice in your head that keeps saying I can’t do that. Having a business savings account has helped me tremendously over the years.

If you are struggling financially right now because of the economic impact of the pandemic, plant this as an idea seed as you get back on your feet (because you will).

If you have continued to have steady(ish) income in the predictably unpredictable media/entertainment world – congrats! start this now, as in today, so you can take advantage of opportunities as they start to come back.

Step two: Do a self-audit of your personal finances. This is a good habit anytime. Monitor your spending. Track every single purchase. It’s eye-opening for many of us. I was um, chagrined, to discover how much I was spending on my hair every week pre-shelter in place.

Look at how much you spent on coffee/shoes/clothes/drinks with friends before the pandemic. How much do you currently spend on food delivery? Amazon impulse buys?

Add it up and see where you can save. There’s always room to shave spending. Start small.

I’ve had clients save up to $50 a week by changing their daily coffee/food spending which translated into $200 per month and $2400 in a year.

Step three: Review your goals.

What would help you get from here to there and make an impact?

Maybe it’s targeted training or working with a career coach or more effective networking?

Festivals, for example, are an excellent way to network but the ones you really want to attend, where you’re actually going to meet people and move your career forward are expensive. Do your research and start saving up. The more people who know you the bigger the career advantage because that familiarity means someone is more likely to click on your job or casting submission or read your email.

Another option – which I’ve done with clients – is buy a ticket for an intimate private event, like a breakfast, where someone very important who you seriously want to get in front of is speaking. For $250 you get a stale croissant, meh coffee and the chance to meet, shake hands (pre-covid) and say hello, thank you that was really great and very inspiring/informative?helpful.

Important! This is NOT the time to hand over your materials and go in for the big pitch. That would be highly inappropriate and (perhaps) memorable but not in a good way.

Instead, afterwards you follow up with an email or a DM and say, “Hi, I saw you speak at the Stale Croissant Breakfast. I loved when you told that story about that time and said that deeply insightful thing… oh and by the way here’s a little bit about me…”

Do this with industry organizations. Remember to bring your business cards and network with other people in the room – even on Zoom. This is a positive and pro-active way to start a business relationship that will pay dividends over time.

Check back next week for Part 2.

Photo credit: Stoica Ionela

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