Motivation can be hard to come by these days, especially if you’re working from home.
If you are feeling like your career has been in a holding pattern this year, it’s not too late to jump-start it.
“Many people are worried that because they are out of the office and not interacting and engaging with colleagues or clients in the same way they did before, that it feels like life is on hold in some ways,” said Dorie Clark, author of “Entrepreneurial You.” “It is hard to know how to adapt your behaviors because there is so much uncertainty.”
Here’s how to keep your career on track:
Keep meeting new people
Networking is an important part of advancing your career. But with in-person conferences, happy hours and roundtables not happening at the moment, meeting new people is going to take a little more initiative.
And it can feel awkward to randomly reach out to someone and ask for a virtual chat.
“I am a big fan of ‘creating excuses,'” said Clark about reaching out to people.
That could mean saying you have a goal of meeting one new person a week and that the person you are reaching out to sounds interesting or that you have a LinkedIn connection in common.
It helps to explain your connection and describe what you are looking for when you reach out. For instance, ‘I am interested in learning more about [said industry] and see you’ve been a leader for more than a decade — I would love to learn more about your career journey.’
Seek out regular feedback
Getting feedback to identify areas of improvement and strengths, and to prioritize your tasks, will help your career growth.
But when you only get performance reviews from your manager once or twice a year, it can seem daunting and make you defensive — which is unproductive for both parties.
“If you can lower the stakes by making feedback much more frequent, it will be less like a judgment on you as a human being and more on a particular performance,” said Clark.
But many bosses aren’t comfortable giving feedback, which is why the onus is on you. “You have to be proactive,” said Clark. “Go to them after a presentation and say: ‘I would like to make my presentation better in the future. Do you have feedback on this or one thing I can do different in the future?'”
The more you have these conversations, the easier and more productive they will become.
Find a mentor
A mentor can help answer career questions, make connections and provide guidance and motivation on your career.
Look for someone a level above you to build a relationship with, recommended Wendi Weiner, a personal branding and career expert.
Your boss plays a big role in your career trajectory. And it can be more difficult to continue to build a relationship when you don’t have random hallway run-ins or other face-to-face conversations.
Finding ways to help your boss can boost your career in the long-term by giving you more opportunities and access to new projects. Look for any pain points that your boss might have, suggested Dana Brownlee, author of “The Unwritten Rules of Managing Up.” For instance, maybe there’s a morning call that is tough for your manager to make that you can handle. Or perhaps there is a big meeting coming up that you can provide talking points for.
“Another question would be: What are your top three priorities this year?” said Brownlee. “Finding out what is most important to them, you can use that to guide a lot of what you can do throughout the rest of the year.”