Quote: We cannot control the adversity we have in our lives. But we CAN control our reaction to adversity.

Is now the worst time to network? Or the best time?

In last week’s newsletter ( which you can read here ) I posited the question, “Can you recession-proof your career?” and shared these six suggestions for how to make the most of a slow job market:

  • You could catch up on sleep, exercise, time with family & friends, and all the other things in life that are WAY more important than career development!
  • You could level up your skills
  • You could reorganize your finances
  • You could update your professional branding materials (résumé, portfolio, etc)
  • You could start a side hustle or work on a passion project
  • You could build your professional network

And these resources couldn’t have come sooner. Just this week one of the students in my Optimizer Slack community posted the following:

I wasn’t paying attention to all the layoffs, figured I was comfy in my staff job. Then we had an impromptu company meeting and they let it be known that the number of staff had to be reduced significantly across departments.

While I had planned to leave and transition to the tv and features side of things this summer, looks like I’ve gotta set things in motion a few months earlier.

We cannot control the adversity we have in our lives. But we can control our reaction to adversity.

Remember all that extra time we were hoping to “find” right before the pandemic hit?

I want to make sure nobody makes the same mistake twice while we all await the (potential) writer’s strike as well as the outcome of the massive restructuring in the content divisions of the major studios.

When the flood gates open again to create more content (and they WILL open), it’s those who made the most of this down time who will end up getting the first calls to fill the open jobs.

Or…you could do what most of your competition is doing right now:

Is now the worst time to network? Or the best time?

I know what you’re probably thinking…

“Why would I reach out to people when there are no jobs? This is the worst time to network!”

If “networking” to you is about maximizing the number of names in your Contacts list, sending out as many résumés and cover letters as possible hoping that “something sticks,” or landing the next paycheck job (even if it’s a job you dread), then you are 100% right – a slow job market is the worst time to network.

But this only applies if networking to you is a game of checkers.

However if networking is a game of chess whereby you connect with the right people that can help open doors in your career you never imagined possible – knowing this path requires patience, a clear strategy, and a willingness to build genuine relationships before getting gigs – this is the absolute best time to build your professional network!

Here are 3 reasons why a slow job market is the BEST time to build your network:

1. You don’t have to worry about “sounding desperate” when you’re looking for work…because there is no work!

When you “network” with people only because your ulterior motive is getting work – whether you like it or not – you come off as a bit desperate. However, when you choose to reach out to people knowing there are no job opportunities in the near future, your intentions come off as more genuine.

How awesome would it be to connect with another human being and talk about passions you have in common rather than feeling like you always have to sell yourself and your skills? Now is the best time to network without any of the pressure. It’s kind of like dating…but if you knew the only possible outcome was becoming good friends. 😉

2. You have way less competition for this person’s attention

While the job market right now isn’t completely dead, it’s slow enough you can presume most people are either wrapping up their existing projects or already wrapped. And this means you have less competition for this person’s attention in the most competitive space known to mankind → their inbox.

When you learn how to write genuine outreach messages that people are excited to open (and respond to), you’ve all but eliminated 99% of your competition. While others are attaching their résumés to their first email and asking to have it passed along (please don’t be this person), you just want to connect.

But with a slower job market, you have even less competition overall in someone’s inbox because they are getting less urgent messages for their current gig. Now your biggest competition is newsletters, discount codes, junk mail, & spam. So assuming you wrote a compelling subject line that provides value, the chances of eyeballs getting on your message are significantly higher.

3. People have way more time to respond to your emails (and even meet you)

Just last week in my Optimizer advanced networking class my students sent 100% cold outreach emails to strangers who’s work they admire, and not one but five (FIVE!) students received responses within the first 48 hours where the recipients suggested setting up a phone call or Zoom meeting. One even landed a shadowing opportunity!

Yes, you read that correctly → Five of my students set up calls with people they would kill to have in their dream network…and they didn’t even have to ask for the call!

This was not only because the quality of their questions was such that it was super easy to respond to but also because the recipient could clearly understand how their response could help the sender.

And frankly this is also in part because most people have a ton of extra free time on their hands right now. Hence why NOW is the time to expand your professional network.

Who Is In Your Dream Network?

If you’re in a position right now where you’re “waiting it out,” could this be the right time to expand your professional network? And if so, who would you reach out to?

I’d love to know…

If you could add anyone to your dream network, who would it be?

If like many people you’re stuck right now at “I have no idea who I should be reaching out to!” then keep an eye out for next Monday’s newsletter where I’ll help you narrow down the people you could be connecting with to the people you must be reaching out to to land your next dream job.

Be well.
Zack Arnold
Creator, Optimize Yourself

P.S. If reaching out to new people is the most effective use of your time right now, then my upcoming ‘Build Your Dream Network’ workshop could change the game for you.

SAVE THE DATE: Sat, Apr 22nd – 9:30am PT

Imagine not only being able to strategize a year’s worth of potentially life-changing outreach in a single afternoon, but you’ll do it all in a kick-ass Google spreadsheet that makes prioritizing your next most important outreach braindead easy!

Click here to add your name to the ‘Build Your Dream Network’ waitlist

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”