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5 things you can do this weekend to help your career


DATE: 29 August, 2017

Do you feel like you are just going through the motions at work? Perhaps you’re aiming for a promotion in the next year? Or maybe you have a career plan, but haven’t broken it down into the steps you need to take to get you there.

This weekend, skip brunch and make time to check in and start some small projects that could make a big difference to your career. Now grab your coffee and let’s go!


1. Audit your social media presence

When I started working as a graduate lawyer, we were told to go into social media lockdown. I deleted my Twitter account and locked my Facebook and Instagram accounts right down… Yikes.

A couple of years later I realised that I had made a huge mistake. Social media is much more than just sharing with friends — it’s a great tool for networking and building your personal brand.

Start with a quick audit of your social media accounts. Once you have made sure you don’t have any skeletons hiding online, and you aren’t sharing everything with the Facebookmasses, let’s get stuck into the fun stuff.

Think about the social media channels that you use professionally and take the time to:

  • Check that your accounts are complete and up-to-date, showcasing who you are and what you do. Look for typos and old information that needs a refresh.
  • Make sure you have a recent profile picture. Can you incorporate any of your personality into your online networks?
  • Consider how you can extend your reach on LinkedIn, it might simply be sharing a few relevant articles every week, or maybe you want to try publishing your thoughts? Perhaps you want to get back into Twitter, or if you work in a visual job, share some of your portfolio on Instagram?
  • Ask someone to provide you with a testimonial on LinkedIn. Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, it’s a good idea to have a few testimonials spaced out over time, rather than 10 testimonials dated the week before you apply for a new job.

2. Think about how you can upskill 

These days, lots of businesses are moving away from formal in-job training and towards online courses and knowledge centres, where employees can upskill and learn at their own pace. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to let your professional development slip by the wayside.

Upskilling is critical to moving ahead in your career and standing out if you are ready to make a change. With so many industries being disrupted and transforming, our jobs and the skills required are changing.

Despite these challenges, there’s a huge opportunity for people who are ready to go the extra mile.

Perhaps you want to learn more about social media? Or how you can apply design thinking principles to your job? Pick one area that you want to upskill in and create a learning plan… whether it’s listening to a podcast every day, brushing up on a topic with books and blogs, or maybe you sign up to a MOOC?

Make sure you think about the outcome of your project. Do you want to implement a change at work or create something new? It could be as simple as researching and writing an article on something that interests you. Challenge yourself and your thinking… you never know what you will learn and where it will lead you!

3. Sign up to an upcoming event

Whether you love or hate networking, having a strong professional network is critical to your career. Even if you aren’t looking to change jobs, it’s true what they say… it’s all about who you know.

There’s a huge range of great events that will help build your networks, introduce you to new ideas… and they won’t break the bank! Take half an hour to see if any professional organisations you part of have any upcoming events, or browse on Eventbrite to find events near you. Try organisations like General Assembly for good free events, and don’t forget to see if there are any interesting meet ups in your area.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box here! Your event doesn’t even have to be related to your job. If you are looking to change careers or make a move, why don’t you think about heading along to an event outside your speciality? It’s a great way to discover a new perspective.

4. Ask someone for coffee

Networking events are a great way to meet new people, but often in depth conversations are impossible in a busy room full of strangers.

Three years ago I started a “50 Coffees” project, where I asked a range of people who I found interesting and inspiring out for coffee. The idea behind a 50 Coffees project is to have conversations that open your eyes to new possibilities and new ideas. This project played a huge role in building my confidence, helping me leave the law and find a career I love.

Think about one person who you could invite to coffee and get in touch. Reaching out to people you don’t know very well (or perhaps at all!) can be a little nerve wrecking, so have a think about who you want to approach and why. Every time I approached someone new I explained to them what I was doing, and what I hoped to achieve with my 50 Coffees project.

Even if you decide not to meet someone new, making the time to go out for coffee with your boss to talk about your career progression or catch up with an old colleague is a great way to strengthen your networks and relationships.

5. Switch off

Finally, schedule some down time. Disconnect, get outside or spend some time doing something you love. Always being connected can be terrible for your motivation, wellbeing and relationships.

In fact, if you spend some time this weekend working through this list, you might be surprised how everything starts to come together when you step away for a break.

Here’s to making the most out of your weekend!

This post was originally published on the Firebrand Ideas Ignition Blog.