100 coffees to a new career September 2020
When Jane Merrick found herself looking for work during the COVID pandemic, she made it a point to both reconnect with her existing network and meet new people by having a coffee.
Rather than simply fire off CVs and cover letters, Merrick set out to make a human connection by having 100 coffees with 100 different people.
88 coffees into her plan, Merrick had found a new role, as head of marketing at Rest.
Reflecting on what she's learned, Merrick wrote, "2020 has been an intense and unexpected year, but I will remember it for the time of reflection, learning (in the process of completing 3 courses) trying new things, being open to different experiences, getting out of my comfort zone, and most of all, being resilient."
- What inspired your plan to have 100 coffees during your search for a new role?
There were a few things that inspired me. Firstly, I have been in this position before. And last time I spent a huge deal of time networking and having coffees – which is really a big part of finding the next opportunity. Network is everything. Secondly, I remember reading an article somewhere saying “there are 100 coffees between now and your next role”.
Suddenly COVID hit as I was about to embark on the networking. And I thought – how can I network when we could not leave our houses for the foreseeable future?. I put quite a reflective piece up on LinkedIn about how I was feeling, and what was going on for me personally, and just put it out there around my aim to have 100 coffees to stay connected – and it exploded.
I had over 55K view of my post, over 800 reacting, and over 100 people reaching out to have a coffee. I was overwhelmed.
- Having conversations like this can be great for catching up but also a good chance to reflect on yourself and what you want. What did you learn about yourself during your chats?
I learnt that everyone has an incredible story to tell, and at some point, I could help people just as much as they were helping me. Every conversation was 2 way, and I think it was beneficial to both parties. I also learnt very quickly how to engage with complete strangers over zoom – it was great relationship-building skills that has now helped me as I start a new role in a virtual world and have to create connections over a screen rather than in person.
- Was there anything that particularly surprised you?
People were so generous with their time, and showed a great deal of vulnerability in our conversations from the beginning. I do not think this would have been so successful if we were not in the pandemic environment – people appear to be more open to try things which was unexpected.
- What does your background in travel, insurance, tech and government will bring to your role in an industry superannuation fund?
I have always worked in serviced based organisations in which have been both global and local, large and small, and market-leading and challenger mentality. In all of these places I have learnt new skills, capabilities and strategies to drive brand equity, and customer growth and engagement. These are the 2 key challenges I am looking to address in my new role.
Diversity of thought is important and I know I will bring a different perspective.
- Is there anything about working in an office that you miss? Or anything about working remotely that you particularly like?
Yes, I miss the people!
I love day to day banter, being able to have conversations with people at any time, and bouncing ideas off each other. I like ideating with a group of people and a whiteboard – that is very hard to do at home! I definitely miss being in an office environment for some of the time.
The best thing about working remotely has to be removing any travel time, and the flexibility it presents. I can see the kids after school (albeit I have to now train them I am still "at work” when they see me), I can exercise more at lunch, and be in a comfortable environment. But to be honest, I am a people person and get energy from others, so want the face to face connection. I am looking forward to perhaps having more of an even balance of work environments and benefiting properly from both styles of working.