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Pink Slip Party Raises Spirits at the Backstage Judith Martin-straw | Fri, May 15 2009 04:01 PM

Have you been invited to a pink slip party? If not, don’t feel snubbed. This is an invitation you don’t really want. Against the odds, the Pink Slip Mixer organized by Edwin Duterte in conjunction with a dynamic community of studio people calling themselves the Entertainment Collective was unexpectedly fun. On April 23, Duterte and his network of unemployed up-and-comers descended on Culver City’s Backstage Bar to transform karaoke night into their chance to find a great new business opportunity, or to help someone else find what they are looking for – basically a job.

Pink slip parties, gatherings that bring together the recently unemployed with comrades and recruiters, are popping up everywhere. Duterte’s focus is unique for several reasons. He encourages his Pink Slip Mixer community to “think about somebody else.” Duterte reminds folks, many still suffering from the shock of losing their job, “Everybody has resources. I ask people to share their resources.” And they do.

Take Sharon Rich. A personal coach since 2005, her practice initially trained clients to transition into leadership rolls. In November everything changed. “That’s the day that Citigroup announced they were cutting 75,000 jobs. I realized I could help people.” Today she offers a free teleseminar on the first Monday of every month. See www.layoffbounceback.com for details.

With people on the lookout for each other as well as themselves, Duterte adds another vital element: social networking tools. As the job market changes, so does the job search. Duterte encourages pink slippers to use these mechanisms for fun and profit, and in that order.

Take Grace. She is a hoping for an old fashioned job with a regular paycheck. A Culver resident who was pink-slipped in August from her highly specialized job with a production company in Burbank, she says, “Ideally, I want another job in that specialty, but there are only something like eight jobs these days.”

Finding long-term salaried employment may not be the norm in tomorrow’s entertainment industry. Tish “tha Dish” Roberts, a Gen-Xer and originator of the Entertainment Collective, has worked freelance for years. Used to hustling for the next gig, Roberts noticed “even the freelancers are sweating it.” She approached Duterte via Ak Bulcha, a communications specialist who likes to “bring really talented people together,” with the idea to produce a Pink Slip Mixer targeting entertainment industry workers.

Roberts is already using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, adding “I’m a big fan of Craigslist.” Grace, a baby boomer, is not so linked in. Duterte hopes Pink Slip Mixer events will encourage Grace, and others like her, to get themselves up to speed.

Duterte created his first social network in 2003. One Key Away, a dating service, “never really took off.” Today he uses what he learned to help job seekers use social media in a productive way. “I want to get people off the web. When the economy settles, these same people will have an expanded network. We’re building a community using social media tools.”

Balcha agrees. “When you meet people on-line and then you meet in person, that gives life to the technology. Creating communities that work – that’s power.”

Duterte estimates 60% of his Pink Slip community is over 35, people whose last job search may have utilized the cutting edge technology of a fax machine to replace snail mail. With technology changing the dynamics of society and with a new generation born to key pads and touch screens nipping at our virtual heals, Duterte surmises, “When all the smoke and mirrors clear, it’s not about the technology.”

Hard times are tough but effective equalizer. Chatting with Roberts about her own economic challenges, Grace reflected, “This is a time when all of us who have been out of work for a while have to figure out a way to make ends meet.”

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