Like many people, I’ve been baking during these days of COVID quarantine. Buttermilk Marble Cake. Apple Bourbon Cake. Tres Leches. I like the precision of baking, and my sweet tooth loves finishing off dinner with a good dessert. Having the right ingredients is key and sometimes substitutions don’t work as well. Milk can’t really replace heavy cream and fresh nutmeg -- rather than bottled -- can altogether change the taste of your final product. Not having a necessary ingredient or a decent substitute can mean an inedible result!
Relaunching is kind of like baking. It requires a set of ingredients for a great outcome: a self assessment process, a great strategy, a polished resume and Linked In profile, a compelling narrative, and intangibles like confidence and a sense of curiosity. One additional ingredient, however, can elevate your relaunch process: a Group. Belonging to a cohort or community of counterparts can altogether change the trajectory of your reentry into the paid work world. Virtual group engagement during COVID can provide opportunities to meet and work with relauncher-colleagues across a wide geographic area.
Groups have a magic or power. What seems impossible to accomplish alone, suddenly seems within your reach. Groups have a collective energy that’s exponentially greater than the sum of its individual members. When you join forces with a Group, you stand to gain in invaluable ways. Here’s how:
Opportunity to Visualize: Groups give you the chance to talk about yourself, your skills, experiences and possible employment targets in a more elevated or professional way than you’d talk to a spouse or friends. It’s like a rehearsal, and you’re trying out an identity. Seeing yourself in this return-to-work identity and going public with it builds your confidence and your momentum. Once you’ve identified yourself to your Group as a relauncher and committed to goals, there’s no turning back!
Break Down Obstacles: Let’s assume you’re relaunching in isolation, and you tell yourself to complete four informational interviews next month, but you only do one. Your inner critic might blast you for this. She doesn’t care how or why your strategy to get those interviews didn’t work. She’ll just remind you that you’re lazy or disorganized. Your Group, on the other hand, will help you break down the obstacles that stood in your way of completing that goal.
Accountability: This is one of a Group’s best assets. When you commit to taking action, your Group wants you to execute, and you don’t want to disappoint them. Your Group’s expectation that you’ll come through both for yourself and for them creates an accountability dynamic that simply can’t be duplicated in a solo context.
An Instant Network: Many relaunchers with long career breaks tell me regretfully that they don’t have a network anymore, or that their network is ‘just a bunch of other moms.’ Joining a Group catapults you into a fresh new network of professionally minded peers who offer a double bonus: they understand your situation and they have networks. Your ability to benefit from the expansion of your network by joining a Group is invaluable, regardless of whether you are from the same industries. I’ve seen a relaunching mechanical engineer connect a relaunching finance professional with the contact that got her back to work after a 12 year career break!
Groups offer so much, in addition to being fun. Find a Group. Start a Group. Join a Group. It’s an ingredient will take your relaunch process from ‘just okay’ to a five star confection!