Even those who experienced events such as the 2008 financial crisis or the dot-com bubble of the late nineties agree on one thing: the current coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything that preceded it.
While networking events and business trips get canceled, how can we make the most of this time at home? It can be tempting to put everything on hold—and it’s completely normal to grieve for the way things used to be—but there are many ways to continue advancing your career even while you’re stuck at home.
When thinking about ways to get ahead during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, it’s crucial to think creatively around two fundamentals in business: your value and your network. Here are eight tips for working on both from home:
1. Work smarter. Automate or delegate as many decisions as possible to free up head space for things that matter most. Ever notice how Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day? Many successful business people automate decisions around clothes, exercise, and diet. This will free up valuable brain power for what’s truly important.
2. Improve your business acumen. If you have a finance background, learn HR best practices. If you’re a marketing specialist, investigate risk management. Now more than ever, a well-rounded understanding of many business disciplines and processes will shape you into an indispensable resource.
3. Build skills that prepare you for the unthinkable. Going forward, many soft skills will be more valuable than ever: adaptability, communication, creativity, decision making, and time management, among others. Although you’re likely practicing many of these already, consider how a graduate business degree can help you grow and refine your business skills.
4. Invest in acquaintances. Social media makes maintaining relationships easier than ever, and even the weak ties in your network may prove to be valuable. Research suggests that people you’ve crossed paths with over the years will often help get you ahead. Consider going through your connections and striking up a conversation with a few people each week, or plan to make an impression with new contacts at a virtual event.
5. Join the conversation. An important aspect of investing in your network is participating in what’s trending. Consider following hashtags in Twitter and LinkedIn, weighing in on content, and posting your own perspective. This simultaneously builds your brand while practicing valuable communication skills.
6. Help others to help yourself. One timeless measure of success is helping someone else along their journey. Your lifetime can have an immeasurable impact when you uplift others. If you find an opportunity to give back, especially if it aligns with skills of your day job, it will benefit your reputation and build your network. You never know when it could lead to an even bigger opportunity down the road!
7. Spend your most valuable currency wisely. During COVID-19 social distancing, we gain back many precious hours a week previously spent commuting or attending social obligations. Take advantage of this precious commodity, but make a budget if necessary. Binge watching Tiger King probably won’t make any business advice lists, which brings us to our last tip...
8. Invest in yourself! Now is the perfect time to evaluate business schools, prepare for interviews, hone your 30-second introduction, and research organizations that align with your personal mission. Time spent in bettering yourself will always return tenfold over the course of your career.
Opportunities to get ahead from home may be difficult to see at first, but even challenging times can bear fruit when you make the most of them. As you manage personal and professional commitments, consider ways to get ahead in business—and in life—from home. Read more on how to stay positive and productive while quarantined at home. For more advice on business and beyond, create an mba.com account.