When you are planning on how you will try and get ahead this year, don’t think about working harder. Instead, think about trying to work smarter.
It’s not about the time you spend in the office at your desk, running numbers, following up on all those small things that enable you to do your job expertly. If no one is noticing, you’re not likely to be going anywhere any time soon.
Stop work – hands off the keyboard, detach from your email, move away from your desk and leave the office. It’s time to give your career a boost by meeting new people, catching up with your networks and expanding your opportunities by getting out.
How would you know about the opportunities that are out there if you’re not around to hear about them? Many roles are filled through word of mouth, personal recommendations and just knowing who is available at the right time.
The role doesn’t have to be for you, but you might refer someone who might refer someone and eventually this may help you. You don’t always have to get a direct result by networking but it just creates a web around you that will help your career.
Every time I’ve organised a function lately, I’ve noticed there is a no-show rate of around 20 to 30 per cent. I understand that there are things that come up at the last minute, urgent child matters, a sudden work emergency, feeling unwell or some unforeseen catastrophe, but it’s not hard to believe that sometimes people are just feeling that they should keep working rather than going to an event.
You should get up, you should leave your work and your desk and you should go to the event.
Firstly, when you signed up for it, you thought it was a good idea – and it probably was. It may have been a good speaker, good group of people to network with or something you wanted to learn. That probably hasn't changed.
Secondly, if you’re thinking of your career – do you really think someone’s going to notice and reward you for staying at your desk a little longer? No, they’re probably not. But you might get noticed by someone at the function you’re missing, or you might make important contacts through networking.
Lastly, it’s good to have some down time. It’s good to step away and free your mind from the work you are doing and have time to think. Even if it is still about work, you will be more likely to have creative thoughts when you step away from your computer.
So let me encourage you to put your head up from your work – look around, get up from your desk and take the opportunity to mingle and talk to people at an event.
Learn what’s going on from others and get some practice talking about yourself, what you’re into, what you’re up to. You never know when you are going to meet a like-minded person who can see opportunities for your future.
You may even make a friend who outlasts the job and even your career. You won’t lose. So put down your pen, turn off your computer and walk out of the door. There’s a big world out there awaiting you.