A long time ago, I was lamenting the woes of job searching to my friend and ally Robert Hernandez. He stopped my rant and said, “Always flirt.”
I’ve elevated this motto to be “Always Be Flirting” and was discussing it in the amazing Journalists of Color slack group. They said writing out the philosophy would be helpful, so here we are. (Sidenote: I am not looking for a job, I am very happy where I am.)
ABF is about relationship building.
My first few months in Phoenix have been a whirlwind. I’ve learned so much and have so much to learn. One thing has been underscored over and over, though. Leadership is about power and relationships. It’s about knowing when to use your power and when to hold back. It’s about knowing the limitations and strengths of your power. But you are totally powerless if you don’t have relationships. The old tip is to make friends with the office manager. In ABF-terms, that means knowing that at every conference, you could be having drinks with your next boss (can confirm, has happened to me). Or the person you co-found that startup with(hoping this happens to me). Every opportunity is exactly that – an opportunity to form a relationship. You can call this networking if you want, but that implies transactional.
Ask me right now and I could give you 5 people I would work for in a second and 10 people I would hire, given the right position opens up. I spend a lot of time on these relationships because they’ve gotten me to where I am.
ABF doesn’t mean apply for jobs all the time.
It’s about preparedness. If you got an email tomorrow, from a recruiter for your dream job would you be ready? Is your web site out-of-date or your resume a year old?
ABF means being totally ready for that call when it comes, because if you’re doing everything right, it will come. And leaders don’t usually cold apply, they get recruited.
If you’ve built up the right relationships, you’ll never have to cold apply to a job ever again. And when someone calls, always have the conversation.
ABF allows you to plan as much as you can.
If you are always open to a conversation about what’s next for you, then you have to have some semblance of an idea of what you want to do next.
It’s not that you have to have a five-year plan or anything, but you definitely will get asked, “What do you want to do next?” which pressures you a little bit to think about it. As a journalist, it gives me a deadline and a reason to define where I want to go in my career.
ABF makes you better at interviewing
Interviewing sucks. A lot. It is hard and tiring and the worst version of dating with none of the loyalty. We’d like loyalty from our workplaces, but that’s not happening anymore.
It’s anxiety-ridden to have worked at the same job for five years, and then have to learn how to interview again. If nothing else, each job potential is an excuse to flex your interviewing skills and make sure they stay honed, in case anything happens.
So how do you ABF?
A few thoughts on actually how to put this idea into practice.
Show up. As in, yes you are dreading that networking event, but go to it anyway. Meet one person and follow up, then go home and back to period dramas on Netflix.
Be easy to find. Have a web site, make your LinkedIn up-to-date. Put your email (or an email) out in the public sphere.
If a recruiter messages you, respond. Even if you don’t want the job, tell them thanks, send them your resume and ask to be put on file. If it’s a job for someone in of your cohorts, be horizontally loyal and recommend others.
Buy the coffee. A tip from Doug Mitchell: Buy coffee if it’s someone who is earlier in their career than you, or if you are asking them for a favor. Take the coffee if it’s the other way around. You’ll rack up a bunch of social influence quickly and easily by that simple action.
Don’t be an asshole. This is an allusion to something I plan to write about more later, but understand and know that for every person you don’t treat with kindness and respect, you likely have lost a recommendation, and an opportunity they might hold in the future. Wield any pettiness you have (I admit to having some) with great care.
Buy a plant.
It is comforting to have a little living thing in your office or on your desk. Something to remind you of life and that nature is outside. I have a couple succulents and three plants at home. I’m not great at being a plant mom, but I’m working at it.
Reading // Eating // Using // Watching
Reading // Transcription by Kate Atkinson, one of my favorite authors // Addressing gossip, rumor and lies at weekly meetings is a good idea (Rands) // Newsrooms need to be focused on distribution, too. (Hearken) // Why you procrastinate (NYT) //
Eating // My husband and I have a habit of buying random hot sauces and seasonings from different markets and putting them on top of chicken. It’s a lazy meal and we’re always delighted. The latest acquisition? Matouk’s Green Seasoning. I believe it is Caribbean and it was slightly spicy and so flavorful we need to go back and buy another jar like, tomorrow. We have some other Matouk’s sauce in our fridge but this blows it out of the water.
Using // The latest on my to-do app quest: Plan, which is sort of time-blocking, sort of Kanban, sort of GTD. It’s free, also.
Watching // I love space documentaries. However, Mars by Nat Geo is a unique blend of sci fi series, spliced with actual documentary interviews with people like Elon Musk and other famous NASA folks.