Friday, May 5, 2017

Know your niche, when it comes to career bartending

The title of this article could perhaps be interpreted as a reworking of my favorite maxim from antiquity "know thyself". That's not far off from the truth -- however, it also needs to be stated that Tim Ferris of 4-Hour Work Week fame has repeatedly presented the concept of being aware of and reaching out to niche communities you belong in. This is something that you can apply to almost any serious avenue in your life. With all that being said, take a step back and consider that a couple of ways you can improve the direction of your bartending and hospitality career (or any career really) is to employ self-promotion campaigns in niche communities to which you belong.

I use this photo on all of my bartending and hospitality
related social media. The weird glasses make me easy to
remember, and also using the same photo makes it so
I'm easier to recognize between social media accounts.
The Vancouver mixology and foodie community is perhaps the most relevant thing that comes to mind, for me, and as such, I run a strategic foodie Instagram account, and this blog. Like Tim Ferris, I try to take part in three communities, however I'm a bit lazy with the third -- which happens to be Yelp. Through these online communities I have made a number of connections; expanding my network and finding new opportunities that don't just present themselves to the quiet bartender who doesn't seek out community. Having these different online tools which I can point to from my resume has done me a considerable amount of good as well -- this blog is a written record of my thoughts, goals, and aspirations. It proves how serious and passionate I am about my work, and shows that I not only take my work home with me, but I really go through that extra bit of effort to break down and analyze things. My Instagram similarly functions as a picture proof record about my passion for all things food and drink -- it's a catalog of my food adventures, and a personal showcase what I'm doing as far as mixology.

I've taken a lot of excellent photos at the Union, and shared
them on Instagram, Yelp and Twitter. Businesses always
appreciate when you promote them on your social media.
And now the Union is going to know that I mentioned them
in a blog post too!

That niche is pretty obvious though, and for some people it might be too obvious, to the point that they've already been going through the motions in a similar way. It doesn't hurt to take a step back and analyze other areas that you find yourself passionate in -- even if they don't seem to be relevant or beneficial at first. Using another personal example as a case study; I'm a huge fan of Pokemon. I take part in the local Pokemon Go community, having made a number of good friends through Pokemon. I also play Pokemon on the Twitch streaming service, where I've made connections with people in different cities and countries. And thirdly, I remix Pokemon music which I share on Soundcloud and YouTube

Find ways to mix and match your niches too. I'm not the
only foodie in Vancouver who is a fan of Pokemon.

The relevance of all this may seem nominal to someone looking to expand their hospitality horizons, however, let's think a bit deeper about it. First of all, think back to the earlier example, where I said I have online records to prove how passionate I am about bartending. Well, now, if I were to apply for a nerd or gamer bar job, I would have a number of things which I could point to on a resume crafted for that position as well. Furthermore, you never know what kind of people you're going to meet in these communities -- there are a number of hospitality professionals in the groups I frequent, who would go out of their way to be a reference for me if I were to apply at their restaurant. The name of the game here is "networking". Every interaction you have is some form of potential networking; it's just a matter of whether you can see the network value or not -- maybe the person you're talking to isn't directly associated with what you're trying to achieve... however, you can almost be guaranteed that they have some connections somewhere.

This has nothing to do with anything, but I usually post funny
captions under photos. This article is severely lacking
funny quips....
The last thing regarding niches, that I wanted to talk about, is your niche as a bartender. Now, I can go into a whole separate article about this, so I'm just going to touch on it at this point in time. What's your thing? Are you a sports bar gal or guy? A mixologist? A beertender? Do you want to stay in that niche? Do you want to move into another one? Are you trying to get more experience in one area so you can bring it back to another, later? These are all questions you should think about regarding your niche as a provider of libations and imbibement. Know your niche -- but more than that, know what you want to get out of it.

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