- Michael Thompson
You get what you give.
My kids and I made our way to the park across the street from our apartment to find it wrapped off with police tape.
I called my wife to make sure there wasn’t any news about things getting heated on the jungle gym. But after seeing the massive spike in COVID cases in Madrid of late I knew exactly what she was going to tell me.
I’m an eternal optimist and despite Spain getting slammed the first time around by the virus, a part of me still held onto the idea that by the end of the year things would get back to somewhat normal. The off-limits monkey-bars this morning served as a strong reminder that this was wishful thinking.
The idea that much of the world will be working from home for some time to come may sound depressing. But it’s a reality. Fortunately, there are loads of things you can do to drive your career forward without leaving your house. And the beauty of the 7 ideas below is the majority of them take just a few minutes a day.
1. Connect with just one person a week whose work you admire
Three years ago my wife and I decided I’d be on kid duty during the week and try my hand at becoming a digital-homebody while she continued with her more stable job in the city. Being that I’d never earned a dime working online and we’d just moved to the countryside, I thought for sure I’d have to put my career aspirations on hold. But thanks to building the habit of consistently reaching out to just one new person a week, my career took off.
People love to say there are no shortcuts to success. But this is nonsense. Good things happen when you consistently get yourself in front of people who are doing what you want to do.
Just don’t forget that people like Tim Ferriss aren’t going to save you. So instead of aiming for the stars, start smart by reaching out to people who are a few small steps ahead of you.
2. Join an online mastermind group
Starting an online Slack group two years ago consisting of people playing in my lane not only provided an adult outlet when being on lockdown with kids. But thanks to my new friends sharing opportunities it also helped me to stay financially afloat when my two biggest contracts disappeared literally overnight.
Get involved in a group in your sector. If you can’t find one, make one.
Start by seeing if a few of your friends are up for creating a space to share ideas and opportunities. Then ask each of them to invite one or two people they know who may be interested.
The best way to become recession-proof is by having a lot of friends in different places. Plus, it’s hard to walk away from the words — “I’ve created a tight-knit community of people to help us better navigate our careers and we’d love for you to join.”
3. Share every opportunity you hear about
One of the most undervalued ways to create opportunities is by being the type of person who shares opportunities with others.
Every time you accept a job, ask the person who contacted you if they are hiring for any other positions.
Every time you hear about a job you aren’t interested in, ask them if you can refer people over who may be a better fit.
This takes all of two minutes and by doing so you’ll not only tighten your relationships. But over time people will begin to think of you for the simple fact that you thought of them first.
4. Record yourself speaking on your phone for 3-minutes a day
Opportunities are given to effective communicators. This may not be fair, but it is how the world operates. Fortunately, there is a very easy way to improve this skill: record yourself for 3-minutes a day either telling a story, giving an elevator pitch, or answering a typical interview question.
You may not like what you both hear and see the first time you do it — but stick with it. In the span of a week, you’ll be astounded by how much more confident you sound.
Like Warren Buffett said, “If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.”
So stop scrolling through Instagram for just 3 minutes and instead use your phone for something that drives your career forward.
5. Create one piece of high-quality content a week
Up until 3 years ago, I had a hard time stringing together a sentence. After making a commitment to write just one article a week, however, I began to have my thoughts and learnings featured regularly in places like Business Insider which had done wonders for my career.
If writing isn’t your thing, lean into video. Much like the idea of reaching out to just one person a week to slowly build a tribe, in the span of 3 months you’ll have a dozen pieces of quality content that demonstrate what you stand for and how you think.
I know putting yourself out into the world can be scary and it’s not always fun. But resumés are dead. The future belongs to those who have the courage to put themselves out into the world.
6. Write out the answers to typical interview questions
When I started my career a communication coach said something which made me pay for his services on the spot: “You’re telling me you spent $100K on an education and didn’t drop a few bucks to get your interview skills tight?”
Competition over the next few years is going to be fierce. Companies will be spoiled for choice. This means if you get an opportunity you better make the most of out it.
Go to Google and print out the 20 most common questions in your sector. Then write out just one answer a day and ask someone with more experience than you to critique it.
This may sound boring as hell. But if I were to ask you the dreaded question “Tell me about yourself?” would you be able to confidently express yourself?
Combining this step with recording yourself giving the answers on your phone has the potential to not only help you create more opportunities. But being someone who can ace interviews has the potential to earn you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the span of your career.
7. Send one “Thank you” or “Check-in” message every single day
A mentor of mine once told me that if your network isn’t bringing you 2 to 3 new opportunities a year you either need to change your attitude or find a new network.
A very simple way to ensure these opportunities are coming in is by taking the time to check-in on people and letting them know you appreciate them.
But don’t make the mistake of overthinking it. A quick message thanking a mentor for their support or checking in on someone you used to work with to see what’s new will do.
These messages may sound basic, but most people don’t send them and when it comes to creating more opportunities it pays to not be like most people.
Pulling it all together
The world may be a mess right now, but we still live in an incredible time. Take advantage of the technology and online resources we have available. Reach out to people to see if they are up for sharing ideas. Join a tribe or create one of your own to share opportunities. Take the time to get your thoughts down on paper and record yourself to strengthen your voice.
Most of all, be proactive in taking care of the people around you. The best way to carve your own path is by helping other people to carve theirs.
Oh, and one last thing — watch this guy’s videos each week. Tony Robbins and Gary Vee may help you to get out of bed in the morning. But Conor Neill will teach you how to make the most out of the rest of your day.