Tamara BurkettIn the summer of 2016, the company I worked for faced regional layoffs and there I was, in middle management, scaling the corporate ladder canyon. This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been laid off but my dream of reaching the c-suite was fading fast like cheap perfume.  Fourteen years of proving myself, skill-building, and planning and still stuck mid-way through my profession.   What am I not doing? What the heck’s going on? There were a number of reasons why moving up in my professional became difficult.  Landing an executive position with any company required a convoluted mix of luck, influence, and timing.  Working hard doesn’t cut it anymore.

So what is my next best move?

I could become desperate and worry about what’s to come or I can take control of my career.

What if I used this layoff to make a huge pivot in my life?

Instead of freaking out and allowing the doom and gloom of unemployment flood my mind; I charted a new path for my life. I did what any natural born risk taker would do and I started a business.  Solely relying on a fickle job market was no longer a sensible plan.  Besides, if I succeed, the rewards would be two-fold what an executive position could be.  It’s time to apply all the years of experience and schooling in a death-defying way.  Sink or swim, it’s time to find out what I’m truly made of.

This is the time to go all out!

With gumption, grit and relentless faith, I started a consulting agency providing client retention solutions.

Today, I’m nearing the 3-year mark of being in business and I proudly stand tall knowing I’ve made it this far.  I have a growing network and the demand for my services is increasing. Reaching this point took countess hours building relationships and figuring it out through trial and error. My biggest challenge was learning how to network.

I thought networking would be an easy way to market my business. My sales strategy was heavily dependent on it, but after 6 months and no results, I had to rethink my plan. I knew the value of networking and I saw others excel at it, so I had to develop a different approach. After reflecting and asking around, I uncovered some hard truths about my networking style. Greeting people with a warm smile and business card wasn’t cutting it.

First, a mindset overhaul was needed.  Approaching networking as a prospecting activity created a limited view of what networking is all about. Networking connected me to people with valuable information, access to their network, speaking opportunities, mentors, and other vital resources. Being open to the possible benefits of engaging others was essential to improving my results.

Second, I didn’t have a networking strategy. Yes, networking was part of my marketing strategy, but I didn’t flush out who to network with, how to build rapport, what questions to ask, how to find the right events, etc. I had to go back to the drawing board and create a vision of what a great networking experience looked like. By designing a networking strategy that fits my personality, I increased my intentions.

Lastly, I needed a better process for follow up.  After one on one connection, I lacked a method for staying in touch with people. I tried dozens of CRMs, excel spreadsheets and emails before I found the right system for me. Once I changed my approach, referrals began to flow, collaborations, and cross marketing opportunities increased.

Looking toward the future, there are many directions I can take my business. I can offer digital products and expand to new markets. The grand vision of my business is taking shape the demand for my services grows. I’m currently focused on building a solid foundation for my business.



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