by Alek Sabin
Everyone gets to a point in their lives where they question if what they are doing is the right path for them (and if you don’t get to this point, then you’re very lucky). It can be difficult to imagine that you’ve been doing work in the wrong industry for years, or even decades.
However, just because you’ve spent so much time in one field, it doesn’t mean that you have to continue being unfulfilled doing that for the rest of your life. Instead, if you’ve determined that you’d much rather be doing something else, there’s no point waiting to jump into a new field and reestablish yourself. The longer you wait to do this, the harder it is going to be. Here are some tips on how to network yourself to enter a new field…
Promote yourself at every opportunity
I’ve never been a huge fan of self-promotion, and neither are lots of people. There’s something about it that feels inherently conceited. However, that’s a bit of the point, and it is essential to pull out all the stops to promote yourself constantly when you are making the jump to a new field. Use every tool available to you to promote yourself and the fact that you are changing industries. Every person you know, especially in a professional way, should be aware of this change. Use social media. Use industry networks. Tell every business you’ve ever worked with. Until you’re comfortably making a living in your new field, never let off the gas with self-promotion.
Use contacts you already have
Even though most of your business contacts were made while you were working in your old field, it doesn’t mean they still aren’t useful contacts to have. Tell each of your old contacts that you are switching fields and what you are planning to do. Chances are, several of them are going to know somebody who might be good to know. This is a good way to build a foundation of people who might be helpful in the future, as well as to cement your reputation as something different than you were, before.
Go to every industry event you can
If you’re anything like me, you hate going to schmoozing events. Industry events and elbow-rubbing ventures are hardly set up to establish a way to build meaningful connections, because there is always some sort of inherent awkwardness that pervades them. However, you almost never get other opportunities to be in the same room as hundreds of people who can help you further your career in a particular field. For this reason, when you are getting started in a new field, go to every industry event you can. It doesn’t hurt anything if nothing comes of going to one, and the opportunities are too endless to pass up.
Eat with people
To be honest, one of the best networking tips that you can remember, for any type of networking, is to never eat alone. Every meal can be an opportunity for a conversation that moves your career forwards, if you allow it to be that way. There’s something intrinsically empathetic about sharing a meal with another person, and recommendations and job offers are far more likely to occur after you have shared a meal with someone else.
This doesn’t mean you should be obnoxiously trying to turn every meal into a business pitch about yourself. Instead, have meaningful conversations about that person’s life and don’t have the expectation that every person is going to open you towards new business. However, what you do and what you are working on is almost always going to come up in these conversations, and the power of that cannot be understated.
Use tax benefits to start again
For people who are leaving a job to start a business in a new field, there are tools that are in place to help you accomplish benchmarks in your new company with less financial risk. In particular, nearly every state offers important tax deductions and credits for startups and the costs that are incurred. Read more about claiming these deductions here.