It’s All About Perspective…

So here we are in May of 2010…and it’s time for a little flashback so that perspective can be gained…or maintained, as the case may be.

Our smaller events these days get anywhere from 120 to 150 people at them.  Our larger Pink Slip Party events run anywhere from 500 to 600 or more.  We’ve helped dozens of people find new jobs in the past year.  More than 80 recruiters, hiring managers and HR folks touch base with us on a regular basis about job openings, people that they’ve met and will be interviewing, or asking who in our network would be the right fit for a gig they have open.  Tons of people have gotten free training and certifications by showing up at our events and taking advantage of the connections we’ve enabled.

And yet I can’t help but remember that one year ago today, I was freaking the hell out.

Perspective can make you dizzy if you’re not careful.

Why?  Because it was the day before our first Pink Slip Party at the BlackFinn in Royal Oak.  After bringing “back” in 2007 and growing it to a whopping average of 30 to 40 attendees at our monthly get-togethers through 2008 and into early 2009, something was happening.  We were gaining some traction, and word was apparently getting out about what we were doing.

After our March, 2009 event…with, again, about 40 people at it…Bob and I sat at the bar and started talking about the always inevitable “now what?” topic of conversation.  Sure, we were seeing some great people every month.  Sure, it seemed like things were starting to pick up a bit.  Sure, it seemed like new people were coming…but they weren’t coming just to hang out and chat.  It seemed that about half were coming specifically looking for jobs because word was getting out that a few good recruiters regularly showed up at our events and there were jobs to be had as a result.  So should ITintheD stay focused on the “casual networking” aspect, or should we try and do something to help people find jobs.

Several drinks later, it was decided that we’d call up every recruiter that we knew, and we’d try to do something bigger.  There was this concept out there…a “Pink Slip Party”…kinda catchy, easy to understand what it means, and why not give it a shot.  Like everything we do, we were determined to not over-commit or over-extend ourselves…after all, this is still just something that we do in what we laughingly refer to as our “free time”, and so we talked with the folks at the ‘Finn, and they were willing to see what happened right along with us.  We knew we couldn’t get it thrown together too quickly, so we decided to let April’s event be “normal”, and then see what this would evolve into for May.

So we did it.  We reached out to every recruiter that we knew.  We threw out some free press releases.  We got in touch with a few folks that we knew in the media world and let them know what was going on.  An article in the Free Press appeared a week before the event.  It was quickly becoming obvious that this wasn’t going to be a “30 to 40” person thing…

From: David Phillips
Date: Tue, May 19, 2009 at 7:58 AM
Subject: latest stats
To: Robert Waltenspiel, Jeff Mackey

574 on LinkedIn
400 on

86 resumes submitted and distributed to 11 different recruiters.

I’d say yes, we’re poised to be over 100 attendees…

We had no idea what the hell we were getting ourselves into.  I vividly remember Bob calling me on the day of the event while I was at lunch with everyone from work to tell me that the BlackFinn had just called him because NBC had requested that we be there at 4:00 so that we could be their 5:00 news “breaking” story.  As those of you were that were there know…100 attendees?  Hah!  We had over 300.  And 40+ recruiters from 20+ different companies.  It was nuts.

Since then, we’ve added over 1,000 people to the LinkedIn group.  We did the same with the website.  We have more than 11 recruiters that regularly come to even our smaller events, let alone the Pink Slip Parties.  We get hundreds of resumes from job seekers that get shot out.  It’s crazy.  People have actually gotten hired directly as a result of our events.  We had one recruiter in particular tell us that we’re saving his company tens of thousands of dollars because they’re finding great candidates as a result of our group and our events.  Companies both inside and outside the IT industry have started asking us about sponsoring things.  Seriously?  Our events?  Really?  The “one beer at a time” thing?  Really?!

Needless to say, the last year has been an enormous roller coaster.

With every new hire that we get told about, with every “thank you” that we get from an attendee that’s landed a new job, with each and every event that just seems to get bigger and better than the last…it’s a new high.

With every new attendee that shows up with a tale of being let go and not even knowing where to start, or of being out of work for 6, 12 or even 18 months and has just heard about our group and hoping against hope that we can help them out…it’s a new sense of responsibility to make something happen for them.

With every invitation that we get to take part in some stupid, run-of-the-mill job fair, or to help promote some other lame event that goes against everything we are and do, there’s anger that those other folks just don’t “get” it, and a renewed desire to figure out what else we can be doing to make things better without losing what makes this group different from all of the other groups out there or compromising our core principles.

As each month’s event comes to a close, there’s a sense of relief that it’s over…for about a day, and then we dive back in trying to figure out what to do next month, or for the next Pink Slip Party, that will help make them even better than the others.

But again…back to “perspective”: we know what makes them work, and what makes them successful and what makes them effective – you.

You, the recruiters that are willing to keep doing your jobs for a few more hours after what may have already been a long, drawn out day in the hopes that someone at one of our events will help you close the open requirement that your client has open and help get someone back to work.

You, the job seekers that are willing to take a chance on some crackpot, half-baked “anti-group” that has the word “beer” in the their motto and isn’t even run by recruiters might possibly help you land a new gig.

You, the person in the IT industry that’s just looking to widen your connection pool a bit and expand your network.

So, we hope to see you at one of our upcoming events.  Whether that’s the one tomorrow night, or one in the future…we hope you can make it, and that you can find what you’re looking for.

I know, I know…not a lot of humor or calling people out in this one.  Believe it or not, sometimes I take this stuff seriously 😉

You want humor and some good networking advice?  Check out our Don’t Be That Guy entries, and if you are planning on coming to an event, please make sure you read our FAQs first, and feel free to check out some photos from past events to see what you should be expecting..

Most importantly though…keep it all in perspective.