When it comes to how to push your own career forward, there are some pretty obvious must-do things that come to mind: You need to meet deadlines and produce high-quality work; you need to build a solid relationship with your boss; and, if you’re chasing a promotion, you need to be vocal about tossing your hat into the ring for consideration.
However, advancing your career doesn’t completely need to happen inside the four walls of your office. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of awesome things you can do to give your career a boost—things that have very little to do with your actual job.
So, if you’ve been on the hunt for some productive things you can do to elevate your own professional reputation—that don’t involve extra hours in the office—we’ve pulled together seven suitable suggestions for you right here.
1. Volunteer your time and skills
It’s likely not a surprise to you, but volunteering can be a great way to make new connections, pick up new skills, and help out in your community.
Whether you want to do manual labor with an organization in your area or offer your time and expertise as part of a nonprofit board, look into volunteering opportunities available to you. Not only will you advance your career, but you’ll feel good about yourself while doing so.
Reading is a great way to expand your horizons and learn new things. And—whether business related or not—making time to read is always recommended for beefing up your knowledge.
Bookmark thought-provoking articles you want to come back to. Or, pick up an awesome read on entrepreneurship to inspire you. After all, there’s really nothing better than being able to unwind while also knowing you’re doing yourself (and your career) a favor.
3. Build a personal website
When you hear the words “personal website,” you likely think it’s something only people in creative professions need to have. Right? Time to think again!
In today’s digital age, a website or an online portfolio is a key part of your personal and professional brand, regardless of what industry you’re in.
Set aside some time to start putting your own together. Whether you’re currently job hunting, building a side hustle, or just want to position yourself as a thought leader in your field, a website will work wonders for your career and eventual career goals.
4. Try something new
Life gets busy—which means that, oftentimes, each day becomes rigid and structured to combat the chaos. We get stuck in a rut and lean on our daily routine to get us through.
However, putting yourself out there and trying something new is a great way to not only boost your career, but also discover new interests. You just need to make the time.
So, go ahead and finally pick up a camera and try your hand at photography, just like you’ve been meaning to do for years. Or, sign up for an online course that will teach you the basics of coding. Learning new skills is never a bad thing—and you might just be able to take them into the office with you!
5. Seek out a mentor
No matter how busy your schedule, you likely still make time for your relationships—it’s not often that you miss a happy hour with your friends.
But, here’s one more productive relationship you can foster outside of the office: A relationship with a mentor. Seek out an accomplished and successful person—he or she doesn’t even need to be in the same field or position as you—that you can learn from, bounce ideas off of, and just generally look up to.
Having this resource will be undeniably helpful as you continue to move through your career.
6. Strike up conversations
I know, you were likely anticipating seeing the age-old advice of “networking” on this list somewhere. And, I definitely won’t refute the importance of networking—it’s crucial. However, I’ve found that slapping such a formal title on an exchange can make it all feel forced, fake, and completely unnatural.
Instead, I’d encourage you to strike up conversations wherever you go. Whether you want to chat with the person in the chair next to you at the hair salon or compliment the person ahead of you in line, don’t be afraid to get the conversation rolling. You never know who you’ll meet!
7. Relax and recharge
Here’s one we could all use a little more of: Make time to rest, relax, and recharge. Downtime is crucial for your own mental health and productivity. After all, it’s tough to be impressive in the office when you’re feeling completely burnt out.
So, as counterproductive as it might seem, make time to just kick back and do nothing outside of working hours; you’ll be able to come into the office with a fresh outlook.
Advancing your career doesn’t all have to happen at work. These seven things have nothing to do with your actual job duties, but can grow your professional reputation by leaps and bounds. Take a break from the office, give them a try, and see for yourself!