~ Winston Churchill. I often tell those that I coach that you want to be walking out of the middle of the valley of Hell, not into it. Today’s #wednesdaywisdom from Churchill feels very appropriate. It can feel like a contract not renewed or terminated is walking INTO the middle but if you are smart and manage it well, you are actually walking OUT of it. Here are my thoughts on topic and the advice I give the ambitious on the path out of Hell……..
About a year or so out from the end of your contract you start to get that little voice that says “you need to be working on your network, exploring opportunities, getting ready in case ‘IT’ happens”. The IT is when your contract is not renewed. It’s not a ‘if’ because it will eventually happen, it’s when. It is happening more and more frequently than it ever has before. The reasons could be:
- Supply of young journalist clearly outpaces the demand and the gap gets wider every day in broadcast journalism as digital content and channel displace traditional outlets and content.
- The DMA is changing and the stations and networks haven’t. You could look at many many markets where the faces at 5, 6, and 11 don’t reflect the diversity of the markets they serve.
- Ratings are off because as the BIG get bigger, the smaller players can’t keep up with technology, salaries, etc. The under capitalized regionals are basically getting crushed.
- Poor market and station management. It happens, the market and industry change and there are GM’s and ND’s that can’t navigate the first turn when the flag gets dropped. They generally aren’t the first out, it’s the talent because they are the most visible and vulnerable.
- Finally, the audience has left the talent. I’ve written on a number of occasions about how disconnected on air talent can become with their audience, specifically in their social media strategy (strategy used very loosely in this context). See more of this topic in my previous article: Breaking News: They Are Just Not That Into You!
There are many ways that you can start to prep for what is inevitable. The key is to start the first day that little nagging voice starts in your head and hopefully that’s a year or more before your contract or agreement expires. Some of the things you should be doing as normal course of business:
- Networking beyond your industry. Get embedded into your community and I mean the community, across all demos not just in your comfort zone.
- Create a transferable set of skills in your career toolbox. How does your ability to tell a story transfer to other industries and businesses. Create your ‘pitch’, either an elevator pitch or a reason for leaving/change pitch. This is critical.
- Create a personal brand strategy and leverage it across all social media platforms. Sorry, the fact that you are eating white chicken chili tonight for dinner is not a strategy.
- Continuously update your LinkedIn profile, your resume, and your reel. These updates are not ‘events’, they should be part of your agile and continuous improvement brand strategy.
- Be honest with yourself and your family. Prepare financially for what will come, and it will come maybe 3-4 times in a career. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about and your network wants to help you. You need to tell them how and give them the ammo to become your advocate.
Finally, you owe it to yourself to spend a couple minutes and read this short article on the 5 things critical to finding your next opportunity and role in what will be a 30 year (or more) career :
About Mike McNamara:
Mike has held C-Suite, Executive and Senior Sales, Marketing, Business Development, and General Management roles with Equifax, Cox Enterprises, WW Grainger, and Federal-Mogul Corporation. Mike has led sales, service and operations organizations of over 1,500 associates and accountable for P&L responsibility in excess of $250M.
Dedicated to giving back, Mike formed The MBAR Group in 2009 with the sole intent of providing pro bono career and business consulting services. Today he coaches a number of high profile media personalities as well as holding advisory board positions guiding a number of multimedia and small business startups.
Mike earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University. He is a past chapter President of the American Marketing Association. Mike and family split time between their adopted state of Missouri and family home in NW Michigan where their philanthropic causes include The Kingdom House – St Louis, BACN in Benzonia, MI., and Samaritan’s Purse, Boone NC.