Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Confidence Game

Immediately after I was laid off, I did what you do in those circumstances: sent emails to everyone I could think of, telling them I'd lost my job and suggesting, in as proper and decorous a manner as possible, that they'd better drop everything and help me find another one or God knows what would become of me and it would all be on their heads. Something to that effect, anyway.

When I began this process, I could almost hear my confidence leaving my body. It sounds a lot like whining. Who could I call upon? Who did I know? Did I even have any good industry contacts? I was convinced that most of the people I knew in the business had just been laid off with me.

Which was nonsense. I knew more people than I realized--so do you. After a layoff, it is a useful and necessary exercise to go through your Outlook contacts, your files, the business cards you've accumulated, your mental Rolodex and determine just how big a network you have. You will almost certainly be surprised, as I was, and you'll feel a lot better.

This slight bump in self-esteem will help you deal with the next confidence sapper that will rear up and bite you: Has it been too long since I've been in touch? Will they resent me for trying to contact them after so much time--especially with my motives so transparent? Will they just hit delete when they see my name in their inbox?

Well, maybe they will, and maybe you'd deserve it--but give them the benefit of the doubt. In my experience, people will come through for you with expressions of sympathy, offers of help, practical suggestions and even specific leads. People you haven't spoken to in years.

Which leads to one final challenge to your confidence: I don't deserve friends like these. Still working on that one.

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