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Making Connections for the Next Job

Making Connections for the Next Job

Pat Frew

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How the AMA Cincinnati chapter helps members and nonmembers create the networks needed to shift them into a new job

The Cincinnati AMA Job Transition Group started small. Back in 2001, I was in a newly created job that was going nowhere. I had experienced a fair amount of job instability in my early career, which began in radio news, so I was battle-tested enough to realize that this job might be eliminated soon. I began meeting with three other people about the same age who were either in job transition or were about to be. We met monthly over lunch to discuss how to support one another in finding new jobs.

After we all found work, I saw a need to help others—particularly in the creative fields: marketing, public relations, even sales. I continued to hold monthly meetings at a local restaurant and invite others I had met in the field to attend, doing so because of the help and support I’d received along the way in my vocational odyssey. Over time—and coupled with my deep involvement with AMA Cincinnati—the program became a part of the chapter’s initiatives. Conversations with the board at the time led to the realization that there was a need for this type of group among our regional members.

The format for the group has changed little over the past two decades. We have attendees briefly share their broad experience level, what they envision their next “perfect job” to look like and name several target companies where others in the group can help provide connection points. We also share community resources and networking opportunities, many of them free, where job seekers can enhance contacts. Occasionally, we host recruiters from often-mentioned target companies.

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Since the program has become part of the AMA, we have helped hundreds of people find jobs. We are open to anyone who has been laid off, is new to the region and hasn’t landed with a company yet, is employed but discreetly trying to meet new people and network outside of LinkedIn or is looking to pivot into marketing from an adjacent practice or discipline.

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We’ve even helped people find jobs who have never been to our group: I was at an exercise boot camp at a local YMCA one Saturday and a friend there introduced me to an instructor who also happened to be a local elected official. When my friend introduced me, the instructor asked if I was “the Pat Frew?” I blushed. She told me, “Two years ago, I was between jobs in the banking industry and you shared an open job posting with a friend who forwarded it to me,” she said. “I ended up getting the job!” The renown of the Cincinnati AMA Job Transition Group spreads beyond the individuals who attend events, usually numbering 20 to 30 at each monthly meeting.

In the life of AMA chapters, leaders don’t often have the luxury to offer many free amenities to members or their communities because it’s the job of said leaders to drive revenue and have strong financial reserves. By offering the transition group to both members and nonmembers, we provide a free resource that enhances chapter member retention. This creates a level of gratitude among nonmembers, and they consider membership when they otherwise may not have. I know of at least 10 to 15 cases where we converted Job Transition Group attendees into AMA members.

When considering such a specialized group for your chapter, I suggest you research the other job support groups in your metropolitan area. Reach out to the individuals that run them and pledge to publicize each other’s efforts. This tactic has helped to spread positive word-of-mouth about our group and drive attendance. We also use platforms such as Eventbrite as a strong promotional tool.

We are always open to new ideas to tweak the offerings provided through the transition group, but for now, the way meetings are run has changed little over the past decade. We look forward to the future and continuing to provide value for the vibrant marketing and creative community we enjoy in Greater Cincinnati.

I am delighted to talk to other chapters seeking advice on how they can launch a job transition support group or seek to improve one they already host. Please reach out to me at frew.pat@gmail.com. I’ll be glad to set up a time to talk on the phone.

[Ed. note: At press time, no remote meetings have been planned for the Job Transition Support Group, but attendees are being encouraged to share their target company lists and key executives for whom they seek introductions.]

Illustrations by Bill Murphy.

Pat Frew is executive director of Covington Business Council, and past president of the AMA Cincinnati chapter from 2007 to 2008.