by: Mercy Chikowore (@MercyC)
The first time I was laid off, I was relieved. But the second time, I was devastated.
I knew it had nothing to do with the quality of my work, but it was hard not to take it personally. I cried and felt sorry for myself for what felt like an eternity before realizing that I was doing myself a disservice. That’s when the little voice in the back of my mind started asking, “What’s next?”
There’s a scene in the movie Finding Nemo, where Dory tells Nemo, “Just keep swimming.” Just like a fish who stops swimming, a PR professional who stops moving will sink pretty quickly.
Here are a few things that have kept me moving forward, even when the tide was pretty strong:
Leaning On A Great Network
My network, which I’ve handpicked over the years, is a source of much needed encouragement. Professional networks like ColorComm, for example, mean that I’ll always have access to a diverse group of communicators and a direct pipeline to fun opportunities and potential contracts. My non-communications network, who don’t always understand what I do, send me diverse opportunities I would have never considered. I once took a two-week course on Intellectual Property a few years ago because of a friend (okay, let’s call her mom) and it’s still a conversation starter on my resume. Keeping your network close to you means they’ll always give you that extra push you need.
Using Social Media To Remind People I Exist
Whether you’re working on a dream project or between jobs, when you stop posting on social media, you’re unfortunately out of sight and out of mind. I keep my social media profiles updated with new conversations or photos to remind folks I’m still around. I often post photos of myself in action: speaking at a ColorComm event, interviewing my favorite singer for SoulBounce or even supporting a friend’s latest business venture, to give people a glimpse of my professional life and personal interests.
Funnily enough, after recently tweeting through the GRAMMYs, one of my talented friends invited me on a nationally syndicated radio show to discuss the best and worst performances. Live-tweeting my favorite TV shows has helped me connect with other professionals I may not have otherwise met. And after promoting my participation in a panel about ‘black love,’ I got asked to speak on another one. Posting a great photo of yourself and your work attracts positive reinforcement, which can turn what may have been a bad day into a much better one.
Renewing My Energy With A Hobby
When you’re a PR professional, your job often overlaps with your social life. You know, like going to happy hours at client venues, or attending a concert you have to review later. Living and enjoying life outside of work keeps me refreshed and energized. Lately, I’ve been getting my namaste on at Bikram Yoga. Who knew sitting in a hot room doing yoga poses would be relaxing? It’s also a great way to step out of my cushy comfort zone and do something different with a group of people I’ve never met before.
Keep your network posted on your activities or ask them for help when you’re feeling down. Consistently update your social media with interesting posts so you become a trusted source of great information. And whether you’re doing yoga or getting your groove on at a concert, find a hobby that renews your energy. When it’s all said and done, do yourself a favor and never stop moving.
Mercy Chikowore is a freelance publicist and writer based in Washington, DC who specializes in media relations, branding, and has an unhealthy obsession with live concerts and sushi. Follow Mercy on Twitter @MercyC.