Life moves pretty fast these days. Not only are we busier than ever, but all of us are scrambling to make sense of a web-enabled information overload. In order to succeed we must develop a good filter system for what to absorb, and what to ignore. We have to be selective and decisive.
With that being said, if you want to make progress in your career, simply showing up for a 9-5 job alone just won’t do it anymore—you have to stay on your toes and hustle. Taking on side projects may be the best way to stay engaged and ahead of the game. Consider making time for and committing to some of the following:
Enrich yourself with reading
Keep up with the news and take time to read and reflect on what your values and aspirations are. Sift through the irrelevant and find books, magazines and resources that relate to your specific interests and can help build your knowledge base. Who knows? It might prove useful to know the author of a specific novel—a future client might be that book’s biggest fan.
Volunteer or freelance
Not only can extracurricular activities provide you with a break from your stressful day job, but the new people you meet while doing them can create a snowball effect of connections. A volunteer experience might spark an idea, such as creating a blog or collaborating on project with a new contact, or you just might face a challenge that helps you later on in your career when you’re in a similar tough spot.
You shouldn’t rely solely on your current job to build your contact list or develop your resumé. If time and energy permits, take on as many opportunities as you can. This will help you prove to future employers that you’re a well-rounded candidate.
Build your online presence
Be smart about what you post online and be true to your personality when sharing. Success isn’t having 5,000 followers on your social media accounts; it’s having a consistent brand personality with a genuine list of people who enjoy the content you share. If that happens to be 100 people, then your online presence can still be considered strong if you can prove that you can engage and interact with them.
Social media is also a useful platform to share the material you read and are interested in with your network. You can share updates on the volunteering positions or projects you take on to demonstrate how active you are outside of your job. Show the world the different dimensions of your character and make it easier for other likeminded people to find you. Learn about SEO and take advantage of the digital footprint using it as a roadmap for the people looking in on your profile to see how you got from point A to point B.
Go to local meet-ups, networking mixers or classes
At the end of the day, people need people. While the contacts you meet online might enjoy the content you share, they also like putting a face to a name. Go outside of your comfort zone and attend local meet-ups, networking events or workshops to build new skills. If you consistently put yourself out there, you will eventually get to know all sorts of key contacts and players in your field. Be confident that you belong in the room of these events, regardless of how much more experienced the others appear to be.
It’s up to you to hustle
Remember to sign on to projects only if you can commit to them. Never make promises that you can’t keep. Be selective and choose only the opportunities that work best for you in terms of time, energy, personal growth and happiness. In the end, it’s up to you to make things happen with selective hustling. Trying new things can often pave the way for your future success.