For our industry, here’s the sliding scale of what the new normal looks like: You were previously working on some aspect of streaming and now you’re busier than you’ve ever been before. Or you successfully pivoted and you are now working harder than ever, doing more with less. Or you’re stuck in a holding pattern.
Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, giving yourself some breathing room will help provide clarity. It’s been hurry up and wait for over eight months and now it’s time to recalibrate.
The first thing to do is admit that this unsettled period is going to last longer that you want it to, which means that it’s time to have some difficult discussions and make some challenging decisions. It also means that it’s time to lean on your friends and extended social network.
If you’re in a good position and you’re gainfully employed at a company that has successfully navigated today’s economic challenges, don’t take it for granted. This is the time to stay put and double down. Work even harder and add even more value. Make the rounds and personally thank all the people responsible for successfully shepherding you and your colleagues to safety. I guarantee it was not luck. There were plenty of sleepless nights on management’s watch where painful decisions were made and programs were cut. Take the time to acknowledge that and give credit where credit is due. If you lost peers as a result of those changes, it is part of your job to check in on them and look after them. Take the initiative and open up your network to help make sure they land softly. If you’re successful, then be helpful.
If you’re able, now is the time to give generously. There are plenty of organizations set up to help ensure that those in need find support. If you cannot donate monetarily, then overcompensate with your time. Be available whenever someone calls. Take the lead and check in on friends and acquaintances across the world.
For those of you who lost your main source of income but picked up something stable in the meantime, keep both feet planted firmly where you are right now. You’re ahead of the game! You might not like it, you might be miserable, but that’s irrelevant and beside the point. You are employed and you are meeting your responsibilities and keeping things afloat. That’s your primary focus—so run circles around everyone else and go all in; nail the work with your eyes closed. Just don’t get too comfortable, and be open to shifting depending on opportunity.
Since need is not pressing, you have time to plan and think about the larger picture. Be thoughtful and meticulous about what you pursue. Make a point to call on your entire network. You don’t need an excuse to call. Simply pick up the phone and say this: “I was thinking of you and wanted to see how you are doing.” Those 13 words cut across space and time; they open up dialogue and endless possibilities. No matter how things were left before, that phrase is a reset button. Share what you are doing and why. Then tell them specifically what you are looking for and directly ask for help. That old saying really is true: you get what you ask for.
Which brings us to hoping and waiting—two of my least favorite words. If you’re out there looking but not getting anywhere, you’ve lost your flow. I know how you feel. When all this uncertainty first started, I relived every bad decision I ever made, each choice leading me right back to nothing. It’s not a good place to be.
If that sounds familiar, then take any work just to break the cycle—because ironically, if you are in that dark place, it is impossible to do the one thing that can get you out. Do you really think you can make calls and ask for help from there? Nope. Never. That’s the cul-de-sac of networking. You’re at that bummer dead end, just spinning in circles. Take any job or project just to get out of your head. Buy some time to plan for that next right move—and realize that you have an entire audio community at your back available to help. If you don’t know where to turn first, then start with me.
Mike Dias writes and speaks about What Entertainers Can Teach Executives and Why Nobody Likes Networking. He is the executive director for the In-Ear Monitor International Trade Organization and the vice president of sales for Earthworks Audio. He loves to trade stories, to talk shop, and to hear about your networking successes and failures! firstname.lastname@example.org.