The leadership of my thought postponed a tour of the Middle East and Europe and again in 2020. To persuade the organizers to personally organize their events online, I went to a shopping mall and bought all kinds of audio and video equipment. April 2021 was the day before Singapore’s first epidemic-related lockdown.
It wasn’t just me. Everyone needs to adapt to the changing environment brought about by Kovid-1. Over the past 18 months, many of my students and coaching clients, ranging from mid-career finance professionals to senior executives and countless others around the world, have had to rethink their career strategies.
With that in mind, here are seven practical tips to take advantage of the present moment to move your career forward.
D. Stock up on social capital
“Your network is your net worth.”
I realized the truth of this statement when a former colleague mentioned me for the role of a managing director at UBS. If I had not accumulated social capital I would not have received that referral.
So what is social capital? It’s the goodwill and relationship that you’ve built with people over the years. It works like keeping money in a bank: whenever you help someone, you save some social capital. Maybe you buy them lunch, give them a tip about opening a job or share some career tips. It’s a good idea to treat people with respect even if it’s in a junior position. Then the compounding law is introduced. Increase your social capital, advance the careers of those you help today and step into more senior positions tomorrow.
In the past year, many companies have restructured and resized. This year, companies have adopted new norms and are hiring again. As new jobs open up, you want your connections to think about you when they hear about a position that suits you. And you should do the same for them.
Remember: Today’s entry-level analyst could be tomorrow’s CEO. When you spend time, money, thought and effort on people, you will be rewarded in the long run.
2. Be an online networker
Big events aren’t coming back anytime soon, so there will be less face-to-face face-to-face opportunities to meet new people. Knowing how to communicate and build relationships without meeting in person is a necessary skill.
Online networking is more important than ever. But be aware. If what you are thinking is to get the value out of your network, you will fail. Think long-term, be intentional about how you can help another person. And don’t forget to create an interesting online profile that instantly demonstrates your honesty and truthfulness.
One of the senior executives I know is Matt, a creative man with retail and consulting experience. He made real connections through LinkedIn. When he saw his LinkedIn connection Diana leaving her role at Apple in Hong Kong for a chance in New York City, he went ahead and congratulated her. Diana thanked him and mentioned that Apple was still looking for a replacement. Matt expressed his interest, gave an interview and got the job!
Nothing would have happened if Matt hadn’t started all this: “Hey Diana, I wish you all the best for your next expedition to New York!”
3. Build your external brand
Your employer’s impression of you is usually made within the first few months of your term. If you don’t do something dramatic, it will be difficult for your colleagues to change their minds about you after you.
One of my LinkedIn followers, Anna, works at a Big Four accounting firm in London. Here is what he told me:
“Six months ago, I wanted to start a new career journey but running after opportunities and sending countless follow-up emails didn’t help at all. I have changed my strategy and followed your advice to build my external brand. I started a podcast and blog, then suddenly presented myself with opportunities that were previously unavailable. Not only that, I was also given a promotion opportunity because my team saw me differently. ”
So if you feel stuck and wondering why you haven’t found a new opportunity, consider building your external brand and use it to change the way your colleagues and managers perceive you.
4. Develop a side interest
With so many companies, among them UBS, allowing employees to arrange flexible and hybrid work, now is a great time to develop your hobby.
Channel the time you want to save when going to the office and writing the book, whether you’ve always wanted to write, learning an instrument or developing your thought leadership on social media.
Side interests will help you be more creative, expand your network beyond your normal circle and make you happier and fuller. The happier you are, the more productive you will be and this will also benefit your employer.
5. An internal transfer request
There are two similarities between the career paths of the bank’s chief executives: most have been with the same firm for at least a decade and have played different roles. Piyush Gupta, the current head of DBS, has been with City for 2C years, for example, City CEO Jane Fraser has been with City for 1C years and McKinsey has been with City for 10 years.
If you have the opportunity to request an internal transfer, go for it. Don’t worry if it’s just a side step. You will not join a new company, so you will already know the culture and use your own internal network. As you continue to expand your network, you can focus on learning new products and picking new skills.
Many open roles today have never been before and companies are having a hard time finding talent with direct experience to fill them. So the next best candidate could be internal, and it could be you. In fact, each internal transfer can take you one step further in the C-suite position.
6. Be the zoom master
Whether you’re a C-Suite executive or a townhall lecturer or a job interviewing junior analyst, you’ll definitely be able to applaud your audience on the other side of the video conferencing screen. Digital meetings are here to stay, so if you haven’t already, upgrade your components and your presentation skills.
No matter how loud your public speaking may be, if your audience can’t hear you or see you well, you’ll miss out. You need to manage your presence on these digital calls. So make sure you are attractive and full of energy. Create a video bio or CV and watch it. Can you improve? How can you be more compelling? Be honest with yourself and focus on the areas where cultivation is most needed.
7. Set aside some time to do nothing
Working from home can take away your commute, but it may not be enough downtime for you. Don’t underestimate the usefulness of keeping your brain neutral. A carefree state can be a great catalyst for creativity. Take some time to think or walk. You can choose who you want to meet next month, pick a new skill, or just enjoy nature and let your mind wander a little. You will be amazed at what new ideas you come up with.
To be sure, you shouldn’t need to implement seven strategies. If you take only one or two and really focus on them in the months ahead, you will put yourself on the path to career success in 2022.
In the meantime, I have to put on my blue jacket and turn on the lights in my home studio to get ready for a webinar. Good luck and hope to see you in Zoom soon!
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All posts are the author’s opinion. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, or the opinions expressed must not reflect the views of the CFA Institute or the author’s employer.
Image Credit: © Getty Images / caracterdesign
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