The promise of social media is that we can connect with thousands of people (or more) with a few clicks. But we can quickly lose ourselves in meaningless metrics like number of followers and “impression” stats. If your goal is networking, challenge yourself to ignore the numbers and focus on making meaningful connections with real people. If you simply must count something to feel like you’re making progress, track altruistic activities like times you’ve offered to help someone new, or the number of meaningful introductions you’ve made.
Take a moment to consider what you want to accomplish. The way you approach networking will depend on your goals. If you seek to move up in your current field, build your brand and network accordingly. Someone looking for a career change may need to start by laying foundations in a new industry. If you’ve recently been laid off, focus first on building a network that can help you in your job search. For those starting a new business, look for potential customers, collaboration partners, providers of professional services, and even some of your “competitors.”
When work starts to feel stressful, it can sometimes be confusing. Are you just having a bad day, a hell week, or facing total burnout? It’s important to identify what it really is so you can “treat” it immediately.
Bad days happen to everyone, whether it’s work-related or not. It can be a bad mood, having more tasks for the day, or facing new work challenges. Regardless, bad days are easier to overcome if dealt with immediately. If you keep allowing bad days to get to you, then you might be experiencing a burnout.
Exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced performance are all symptoms of a burnout. And the feeling of total exhaustion is the most important one, “to the extent that it cannot be remedied by normal recovery phases of an evening, a weekend, or even a vacation,” says Dr. Christian Dormann, a professor at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz’s Department of Law, Management and Economics. But how do you treat a burnout, if it’s already this bad?
How to Deal with Bad Days and Burnout
It’s crucial to fight bad days so they won’t mount up. At work, bad days can be triggered often by worrying, especially when unwanted changes happen in the workplace, leaving you with a feeling of uncertainty. Say, when management starts laying off people due to budget problems, and you don’t have an idea whether you’re next or not. You tend to think about it a lot, and it starts to get In the way of work. Amy C. Waninger, our founder and CEO, points out how worry at work can destroy productivity when you focus instead on your questions and fears that only worsen your stress levels. One way to deal with it is to try procrastinating worry by firmly telling yourself, “I’ll worry about it later.” Then re-focus on your work and achieve something worthwhile for the day.
If it’s a conflict with a co-worker or a project, try solving it immediately with communication. Talk to your co-worker about it, or consult your boss about your project. Asking for help can easily be the solution to get you through a bad day. What’s important is you identify what’s making your day bad, and deal with it as early as possible before it starts to get worse.
Take a Time Out
But even with all these, burnout is still possible. The good news is there are still ways to deal with it. One way is to take a step back from all the things stressing you out, and Dr. Erika Rasure, a professor for Maryville University’s online business program, highlights three signs you’re in need of a time out. First, you might be more agitated both at home or at work. This makes you more impulsive and act less kindly to your coworkers and loved ones. Second, you’re itching for a change but can’t seem to get a grasp on what kind of change you need. Finally, you might have lost inspiration to do anything that used to matter to you.
When this happens, Rasure states on Psychology Today that the important thing is to acknowledge it. “Not only that you have created your own prison,” says Rasure, “but also that you are the only person who has the power to set yourself free.”
Take Care of Yourself
Dr. Rebecca Schwartz-Mette, the chairperson of the American Psychological Association’s Advisory Committee on Colleague Assistance, believes that “repeated small doses of self-care are more effective than a once-a-week event.” They can be short bursts of exercise, or eating healthy snacks. Daily short meditations can also help reduce stress and make you more mindful of your thoughts and emotions.
Take time to unplug from work everyday. Turn off work notifications and try to stop thinking about work once you clock out. Focus on your small self-rewards that can make you forget about stress, like preparing your favorite dinner or watching a funny movie. Don’t wait for the weekend before you do anything nice for yourself. Do these rewards as often as you can. What matters is you prioritize yourself everyday and let go of burdens that stress you out. At the end of the day, remember that these burdens are not your life.
This week, Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf told members of his own company’s Black talent group that there just isn’t enough Black talent in the pipeline (and was compelled to issue an apology just 24 hours later). I’ve heard this “pipeline problem” argument from white male executives for years. It’s bullshit. (Scharf’s statement, by the way, came just two short months after an announcement about his commitment to diversity and inclusion.)
It’s NOT a Pipeline Problem
But let’s say, for just a moment that there was a pipeline problem. Let’s imagine that there are only a handful of Black people in the whole country who are qualified to work in your ridiculous ivory towers. (Again, bullshit. But play along with me.)
But It Could Be Your Org Chart…
Does your company have Black professionals in C-Suite and executive roles? I’m not talking about your Chief Diversity Officer, who probably reports to someone who reports to the person who reports to the head of HR. I mean real representation in your executive ranks. No? Why would one of those precious Black unicorns bother to work at a company where they can see they will not be allowed to advance? Fix your org chart before you blame anything on the “pipeline.”
…Or Pay Disparities in Your Company
Have you released company data on equal pay across race and gender? Black men receive $0.87 for every dollar given to white men for the same work. Black women receive just $0.62 on the dollar, despite being the most educated demographic in the U.S. Pay attention to my wording. Black people don’t earn less. They are paid less. Prove that your company doesn’t engage in wage theft before you blame anything on the “pipeline.” [Related side note: When you want to bring in BIPOC diversity consultants to help you fix your internal problems, don’t ask them to work for free and don’t low-ball the contracts. Pay them what you pay McKinsey or PWC without making them ask for it.]
Is It a Pipeline Problem, or Your Corporate Culture?
Have you assessed your corporate culture from the perspective of Black employees? Each manager in your organization has the power to institute racism, unless you actively root it out. Fix your culture before you blame the “pipeline.”
…Or Your Recruiting Process?
Does your company actively recruit from HBCUs? Not one job fair. A sustained effort. Did you send lily white Becky from HR to tell students how “racism doesn’t exist” in your company, because you don’t have people on your team who represent your target talent market? Or do you instead recruit from the same schools whose degrees hang in the offices of your existing executives? A company filled with grads from the same three East coast rugby teams is going to limit your exposure to “talent.” Fix your recruiting process before you blame the “pipeline.”
…Or Your Selection Process?
Do you redact resumes or let the biases of your managers dictate who gets an interview? How do you prevent them from screening out that handful of qualified candidates named Jamal? How do you keep them from screening out people who live in Black neighborhoods (yes, we’re still largely segregated) or who didn’t go to the “right” schools? Once interviews are scheduled, do you hold your managers accountable for equal treatment of candidates regardless of race? Fix your selection process before you blame the “pipeline.”
You Could Maybe Blame the Prison Industrial Complex for the Pipeline Problem
Does your company do anything to dismantle a criminal justice system that disproportionately profiles, harasses, arrests, convicts, sentences, and incarcerates Black people? Have you done anything to address the school-to-prison pipeline? There are more people in prison per capita in the U.S. than in any other developed nation. A relatively high percentage of those people are Black. Not because Black people commit more crimes, but because they are unfairly targeted and trafficked by a prison industrial complex designed to profit from systemic racism. If you’re so concerned about a pipeline problem, you’d be doing everything you could to keep talented, high-potential Black minds and bodies out of this destructive machine.
…Or Your Own Screening Criteria
Do you still use background checks to eliminate qualified candidates on the basis of past legal trouble or credit history? We’ve covered the criminal justice system, above. Now, let’s talk about credit. The U.S. is the only country that uses credit scores. This system is also stacked against Black folks. (More here.) If you’re being held accountable for diverse talent goals, maybe put some of your energy into fair credit standards (best case) or removing these steps from your hiring process (minimum effort). Fix your screening process before you blame the “pipeline.”
If You Can’t Solve Real Problems, Step Down
I get it. These are big problems that are uncomfortable to talk about and difficult to solve. If you’re not willing to work hard to solve big problems, step down. You’ve already admitted you don’t have what it takes to be in charge of anything, especially the livelihoods and careers of talented Black professionals.
Creating an inclusive team is not easy, but it is something that most companies are now expected to do. Diversity is not just a fad—it is an important tool that can boost your bottom line. When you attract diverse talent to your company, you become more innovative. A diverse team benefits from a wider range of views and ideas. Who knows? One of these ideas might turn out to be the next big thing.
Indeed, a recent LinkedIn survey showed that diversity is the number one global recruiting trend. And a recent Boston Consulting Group study suggested that diversity represents a real competitive advantage. According to BCG, “increasing the diversity of leadership teams leads to more and better innovation and improved financial performance.”
Expand Your Talent Pool
Look for candidates with different backgrounds, cultures, ages and sexual orientations. Prioritize the hiring of veterans, people with autism, LGBTQI, people over 40, and people with disabilities to expand your talent pool.
Putting out a regular job ad won’t do the trick. After all, these groups are already underrepresented. You have to seek these candidates out purposefully.
Emphasize Diversity on Your Job Description
Your job description should say that your company prioritizes the hiring of people from underrepresented groups. This will encourage more people from these groups to send in their applications.
While on the topic of job descriptions, remember to use inclusive language. For example, avoid gender-specific terms like “he” or “she” and use instead neutral terms like “the candidate” or “they.”
Diversify Advertising Channels
To attract diverse talent, post your job description in magazines and forums frequently visited by underrepresented groups. Examples include Diversity Working, which is the largest online diversity job board, and Hire Autism, a job board made for individuals on the autism spectrum.
Other excellent options are Hire Purpose (a job board for veterans, service members and military spouses), Recruit Disability (a job board for job seekers who have disabilities) and 70 Million Jobs (a job board for candidates who have a criminal record).
Partner Up With Diversity Organizations
There are several organizations out there that can help you attract diverse talent to your team.
Code2040 is a nonprofit that fights the systemic exclusion of Black and Latino communities from the tech sector. Its mission is to dismantle barriers to entering the tech industry and climbing up the corporate ladder. To carry out its mission Code2040 connects techies in early professional stages with mentors, prospective employees and peers.
Black Girls Code seeks an end to the underrepresentation of African-American women in tech by providing education to girls. Founded in 2011, BGC has programs in computer programming, coding, website, robot and mobile application development. Its ultimate goal is to equip African Americans with the skills they need to make an impact in the industry.
Every year, millions of newly minted professionals join the ranks of tech companies around the world. Many of them are just coming out of a coding bootcamp, a short but intense program that teaches the learner everything they need to enter the industry. With thousands of graduates obtaining their diploma each month, coding bootcamps are a great place to look for diverse talent.
In addition, the schools that hold these programs like to partner up with local startups and enterprises to place their students. Recruiters would be wise to turn to their nearest bootcamp to headhunt top talent.
There are many great coding bootcamps across the US, but some of our favorite ones include Hack Reactor, Galvanize and Kenzy Academy. Hack Reactor, for example, has campuses in San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Austin, Denver, Boulder, Seattle and Phoenix. The school also offers online programs. Hack Reactor covers Computer Science Fundamentals, Full Stack App Development and Production-Grade Engineering.
These are some basic ways your company can attract diverse talent. Diversity is already a priority for the biggest companies around the world. So make sure it is also a focus for your own firm.