A Bleak Outlook
A few years ago, I saw some scary writing on the wall. My job as a corporate recruiter was at great risk. The trickling fall-in of the latest recession and scraping through an uncharmed economy was taking its toll, seemingly one job, one house, one soul at a time. I surveyed the landscape of my gig and realized that, due to changes that were taking place within our small tech start-up and on the crashes I was witnessing on Wall Street, I needed to be ready, I needed to prepare. The worst had not yet arrived, but I could feel its breath on my neck. I wasn't really sure how to prepare or how to get ready. My own personal landscape included a rocky marriage beyond resuscitation, a job that was quickly becoming as endangered, and multiple escalating bills.
I decided to hit the want ads and online job boards. Several positions jumped out at me, and the interviewing began. Once a new position had been secured and I had that first month at my new job under my belt, I gave my husband his pink slip -- he needed to find a new home and it wasn't with me. With now only one income coming into my over-priced home, the third issue --overdue bills -- was not going away any time soon. I started writing about recruiting, hiring practices, and job searching online and I went back to school to get my business degree. My life was more than well-rounded, it was bursting at the seams, between my full-time day job, my full-time student status, and the numerous activities my gut was telling me, pushing me to get involved with.
Number one activity? Social media. I had been unable to get enough of it -- interestingly enough, I still feel that same way today. While I watched the tragedy of the new recession unfold, friends and family lost jobs and homes, my online writing increased and with much consternation from those around me -- they thought I was wasting my time -- I decided that I needed to focus on this social media, to see how I could use it in recruiting, employment branding, and digital marketing. I needed to figure it out and use it, and use it well. I was pulled to it like a moth to flame only I prayed for benefit, not to get burned by its tempting light.
I took a huge chance in making the choice to write online even more and dive into this yet unproven area of business. The thing is, this risk paid off. Through my study and writing, new areas of focus opened up to me. I left the software sales recruiting firm at which I had landed and went in-house: my own house. I started consulting small businesses about hiring practices and how to use social media to augment their online presence with the hope of building a brand, competing with their bigger competitors, and increasing their revenue, as a result. I couldn't stay away from the computer. I started getting asked to speak at local business meetings and networking events. I developed Bonus Track, my blog of four-plus years, and presented a crazy idea to Jason Davis at RecruitingBlogs, that I would write every single day, if he would feature me. I worked consistently every day to build my own personal brand, my own online presence. I created profiles on every network I could get my hands on. I attended networking events as close as two blocks from my home and as far away as 2,600 miles. My bank account was non-existent and I was afraid -- but I kept at it. I never stopped.
It was painful and often times completely depressing. Why would I keep plugging along, working so hard at something that didn't come close to paying my living expenses and supporting my family? Working so hard at an unproven career? Because it was work. It was hard work and in my book, hard work always has a pay-off. Always. The risk seemed greater every day. Every day, more bills arrived at my door. Every day, I seemed to get further in debt and further away from my goal. Then, about a year into my quest to survive and thrive, I met someone at a networking event that retained me to help him market his business -- using social media. Then I contracted with someone else. Then someone else. It was working, I was working, getting paid a little, and I loved what I was doing. And it was hard work, it was constant work. I worked long hours, up at the crack of dawn and working well past midnight every work day. I tried everything I could to scrounge a few dollars together to buy groceries. My children needed to be fed, I needed to be fed.
I will be honest with you, it was extremely difficult. It was the hardest thing I have ever done; I wasn't sleeping because those hours, when I did manage to lay down, were filled with worry.
All Worth It
As a result of my involvement and work at RecruitingBlogs, I started getting noticed and my requests for conversations were being granted. One such request was to speak to and have lunch with Kelly Robinson at Broadbean Technology; he had recently launched U.S. operations after several successful years in the UK. By the end of our first conversation, Kelly offered me a job. A full-time job -- not a contract position -- like I had first thought. That was in the summer of 2009. The risk, the boxes of generic mac and cheese, the endless hours spent online building relationships and expanding networks, the marketing strategies and business plans written for clients and partners, the exhausting late nights spent writing -- blogging, the losses, the changes -- they were all worth it. Social media proved to bring me, personally, significant ROI.
The investment hurt me, the ache in my stomach was hunger, and not just for food, but for total and complete sustenance. A risk worth taking.
A risk that paid off more than my credit cards -- but that was a very nice side effect, by the way.
Every time you complete a difficult course or survive a hardship, you are setting a self-precedent of success. Picture that success -- fight until it is in your hands. Never lose sight of it. It will come.