Building homes while gaining skills.

Volunteer projects, like Habitat for Humanity, are great gigs.

When you hear the word gig you probably think of a struggling garage band performing at a club.  And while that’s a gig, we use the term closer to the way uses it:  as a freelance assignment or consulting project. We also expand it to include volunteer work, spec projects, and more.  Some examples of a gig are:

  • Doing the financial analysis for your local animal rescue agency
  • Calling on local businesses on behalf of a Public Relations Committee, as most local chapters of national associations are thrilled to have volunteers. For example, the Fairfield County PR Association was the “calling card” for one motivated individual living and working in Connecticut, to reach out to local executives
  • Doing marketing and event planning for a conference producer in your industry or niche
  • Collaborating with a marketing expert, a webmaster, and photographer to create a side business for baby photo books

How gigging can get you better opportunities, a job, and a new career

The term gig is sometimes used in a negative way like it’s insignificant compared to a real job. Yet getting a gig – gigging, can lead to so many opportunities that you would never have known about if you didn’t take the gig.

Gigging can help you:

  • Organically expand your network.  When you do a side job by default you end up working with great contacts that you otherwise would never meet
  • Get away from the job boards.  Actually, working is so much more effective at getting out there than sending 30 resumes a day into the digital black hole of the job boards
  • Learn new technical skills.  Nothing forces you to learn new skills faster than a project with a deadline and no company techies to help you out
  • Get more gigs.  Those contacts and clients you met in the first gig are much more likely to use and recommend you for other gigs
  • Get a job.  People like hiring known entities. If a company likes your freelance work, they will feel much more secure in hiring you over someone else
  • Change careers.  You may take a gig not related to your current profession and may discover a whole new career

If not gigging, then what are you doing?

You may be thinking it’s too much effort to get a gig or that is just not for you. Yet, if you’re not currently employed, what are you doing? The last thing a hiring manager wants to hear when she asks what you’re currently doing is, “Looking for a job”.   By gigging, you have a great response – you are motivated and driven, and to illustrate, you’ve taken on this new mission.

Gigging will most likely involve the hard work of transforming your thinking

Even before I became I blogger, I pitched myself as a Blogger (with a capital ‘B’) to a conference producer. Saying that I’d provide candid feedback from unedited cocktail conversation and real-time tweeting – which is juicy and valuable beyond collated responses to multiple-choice survey questionnaires – I summoned all my chutzpah, tried and failed. But, it was worth a try!

Regardless of your circumstance – employed, under-employed, wishing to be employed, or flat-out exhausted from being employed – this is key. The world has changed, you need to change with it, and as you do, you will transform inside and become more successful in your career, too. You may stop wishing for that traditional job, and instead work for yourself. And that new thinking will make you more attractive even as the market itself needs contract people and shared arrangements.

Technology skills learned at the gig, led to the job

Yes, it happened to me. The gig led directly to the job.

Four years ago, I had a retail promotion gig that paid little but had a Cadillac of a perk. Daily I entered my tally and notes into Salesforce, which is one of the most advanced database systems. To me and my experience at that point, it was a universe ahead. Ultimately, that one word on my resume – – in the Computer Skills section, got an employer’s attention and earned me an interview. When opportunity came, I had swum around in the technology enough to convince said powers to choose me.

Let’s make that you, next time.

Mojo Moves

  • Collaborate with someone (a Wingman) on what type of gigs you could do
  • If you can’t initially find a paying gig, look into doing a volunteer project
  • Talk to other people who are successfully gigging and get their advice

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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