Autograph Hound's Blah Blah Blog

Monday, November 5, 2012

How SDCC hooked me up with a job

Nope I didn’t bring a resume and hand it to the right person at the right time.
And no, some talent agent didn’t stop me while I ate at Pink Berry and beg me to sign with him as I was 'born for the big screen'.
I didn’t even save Kaley Cuoco from an overly sweaty fanboy that she felt so indebted that she found me a position in her entourage.
All great stories if only true…sigh.
Please, just give me a minute and I’ll tell. No need to jump ahead. I promised you I’d tell it.
It all has to do with PowerPoint and networking and San Diego ComicCon. Not what you were thinking huh? Me neither. And it took a while before I connected those dots.
It started when my wife got hired out of college for a very large IT company in Texas.  Yes, she IS the smart one in the family. Actually she wasn’t my wife then; she was just a girlfriend. Well, maybe not ’just’ a girlfriend. We were serious.
She and a coworker became friends. Friends are cool. I like friends. One day I might get one.
Zip forward 20 some years and I’m a SDCC veteran of 5 years of ComicCons. I got laid off, which is its own story soon to be told, and I’m trying to learn some odd and end skills to help my resume.
I was working with a career management service and besides helping with the resume, they also had sessions with others to share and compare the triumphs and failures of the week.  Our guidance counselor was always reinforcing the fact we needed to network.
But networking wasn’t helping me.  I just met other unemployed people. I found that networking meant more than exchanging business cards and sending an email once a month asking if they knew of any open positions. Networking was really about relationships and that takes a lot of work. And that was work I was not doing.
I also started focusing on some remedial MS Office skills. Many of the positions I saw posted wanted Excel gurus or a level of PowerPoint experience that I didn’t have. I figured I needed to learn more. I started taking some Continuing Ed classes at the local community college.
The nice thing about the classes – it got me out of the house and I got to exercise the brain a little. I enjoyed the classes but I was also losing those skills as I wasn’t doing anything with them. A nasty Catch 22.
Meanwhile back on the farm – the wife still had a friend.  As I said, I like friends.  Friends are cool. The friend’s 16 year old wanted to go to San Diego for ComicCon. The friend – henceforth to be known as ‘Mom’, wanted some reassurances that he wouldn’t end up in Tijuana with a tri-colored tramp stamp or worse yet, end up in a tent city waiting for the next release of Twilight.
Mom asked the Wife if I’d talk to them about ComicCon.   If you know me, I LOVE talking ComicCon. I’ll hog the conversation and talk all day and night about SDCC.  Which I try really hard not to do as its anti-social and would prevent me from getting that friend I mentioned earlier.  I enjoy talking ComicCon so much I’d even talk for free when I don’t have a job and could use a little extra jingle in the pocket.
I took the request to discuss SDCC very seriously. I made an outline and jotted down some notes. I rehearsed it in my mind. I then realized I needed to have visuals. That led me to PowerPoint.  Aha! I know how to create a presentation and that would also use some of the skills I accumulated in a meaningful way.
I worked and worked on the presentation.
I used everything that I learned at Continuing Ed. I scoured the internet for just the right sound bite. I tweaked and added and removed slides up to the last minute. I printed out my notes and made a copy of the slide deck so Mom and Son could review it later.
When zero hour arrived I was ready.
The presentation went well. Where we met was too noisy for the audio. We went off script a lot but I didn’t force the discussion to where I wanted. I let Mom and Son guide it.  They both asked their questions and I let them go down their separate paths to enlightenment.
The slides I created helped to reinforce many of my answers to their ad hoc questions.  I could see the sensory overload and I just let them digest. At the end, the Son was excited and Mom was relieved. I think it was a win/win for everyone.
At that ComicCon I think I saw the Mom for 5 minutes. I might have seen the Son for a minute before he quickly disappeared into the crowds.  After the show they were both very happy.
And so was I. I used some skills I learned. I shared my experiences. My work was done.
Jump ahead again - This time only 7 months. My Wife called and told me that Mom thought I’d be a perfect for a position at her company. Wow. I was floored. Of course I’d like to hear more about it. And within days I was working again.
The networking may have been more through the Wife but it was also through me. The effort I put into the Mom’s simple request paid off. I could have winged it and just asked and answered generic questions.  I took the time to organize and make a presentation. I took the  time to alleviate Mom’s worse fears and I showed that I cared too.  I finally did what that guidance counselor wanted of me all along. I did more than just add another name to LinkedIn and swap cards. I made a connection.
I also used those skills I learned at Continuing Ed. The time out of the house paid off.  That presentation made a lasting impression and stayed with Mom for months. She remembered some of my skills and how effectively I used them.
I have two people I really need to thank: Joan and Pat. Without them I’d doubt I’d be working or at least not working for as good of a company and doing good things with good pay. They gave me their time and their advice. They cared and they were patient with me.  They shared a little bit of themselves that really helped.
Thank you.

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