HIRED LEARNING: Rick Verbanas Networks to Landing

By Frances Chaves
Rick Verbanas, PSGCNJ’s former Executive Director, has accepted the position of Director of Sales & Marketing for a small comic book publisher. He will be responsible for marketing, advertising, and business development: “I am excited to return to the industry I love, but now on the publishing side. I will get to keep my writing and editing skills sharp. In addition, I will be working at a half dozen conventions every year.”
Finding the job
Finding the position was the result of two-and-a-half years of networking. Rick forced himself to go to a February 2010 networking event: “I was new to networking and despised it, but I met someone there who—among all my varied professional experiences—latched on to my comic book industry experience. Three weeks later, I accepted his offer to connect me with an industry long-timer in the early stages of a comic book publishing start-up. Three months later, the connection responded to my email. We spoke over the phone, and he offered to send my resume to someone else. Two months later, not having heard back from anyone, I took another job. Fast forward another eight months, and my position was eliminated. I reached out to my comic book contact again. They were moving closer to the marketing stage of their start-up and he brought me in for an interview. We hit it off; then I met the owner who decided to go in another direction. Nonetheless, I continued to reach out to my contact over the following year. A year later, my contact recommended me to a colleague at another comic book publisher. I received an email out of the blue on July 6, followed a few days later by an informational phone interview. We met three weeks later over lunch and went from a ‘feeling out’ phase to a ‘when can you start?’ conversation. It is very true what they say about making that personal connection. While I was more than qualified for the position, it wasn’t until we got to know each other a little, saw how we played-off each other and valued the same soft skills/qualities, did it progress. I spoke with the owner over the phone four days later, and received an offer two days after that. Once we met in person, the decision to hire me went very quickly.”
Most important to the success of Rick’s search was branding himself as “Your Guerrilla Marketer,” returning to school to get a Mini-MBA in Digital Marketing from Rutgers (through a DoL grant), and volunteering his time to give a free webinar on social media marketing.
“Marty Latman’s made this simple statement in his 2011 PSGCNJ presentation: “It isn’t who you know when networking, it is who knows you.” I took that as a personal challenge to brand myself. After months of considering starting a blog, I launched YourGuerrillaMarketer.com, writing blogs sharing my knowledge on guerrilla marketing and social media tactics. I introduced myself as “Your Guerrilla Marketer” and added everyone from my LinkedIn account to my blog. A few months later, I ran a logo contest which generated not only a new logo, but a lot of buzz. As a result, everyone knows what I do. People recognize me when I am out networking, and people I barely know send me job leads. After living in New Jersey for less than three years, with no network to start, I have slowly built one where people know me, or of me. I will continue YourGuerrillaMarketer even while working full time.”
PSGCNJ learning helps Rick land
Rick’s first tour with PSGCNJ was from January through June of 2010, serving as Marketing Committee Co-Chair. He returned in May 2011, serving as Marketing Co-Chair, Managing Editor, Layout Editor, Moderator, and Executive Director: “Ultimately, it was serving PSGCNJ that helped me the most. By volunteering my time and talent, I was able to keep my skills sharp, learn new ones, and grow as a person both professionally and personally. Working at PSGCNJ gave me the responsibility and accountability I was looking for during this time. My self-esteem benefitted the most. I was able to speak to hiring managers about what I was doing while in transition.”
Rick’s suggestions for job-seekers
“On August 27th, speaker Coach Randy described the “SW Rule,” explaining the power of having a “So what?” attitude. I have used a similar technique to help me through difficult and challenging times. The last four years, I have been through a tremendous amount of transition. Every important aspect of my life was out of my control (more accurately, the illusion of control was suddenly taken away); I was at my lowest. However, I have been blessed with a tremendous amount of faith in God. I made the choice to take the attitude of practicing gratitude for everything. If something happens I wanted, I practice gratitude. If something happens I didn’t want, I practice gratitude. Why? Because I believe everything happens for a reason. That job, that relationship, that opportunity, that whatever, wasn’t meant to be. In fact, I have many times looked back and realized I was so much better off because what I wanted—really wanted—didn’t happen. Instead, when something turns out different from what I wanted, I practice gratitude and I evaluate if there was a lesson to be learned (again, because it didn’t happen for a reason). During my job search, I took those lessons and applied them to my next opportunity. Faith, gratitude, introspection serve me daily.”

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