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The Strategic Side Gig

https://hbr.org/2020/05/the-strategic-side-gig

hbr.org

The Strategic Side Gig
The right kind of outside work can boost your career.

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The power of taking on extra jobs

The power of taking on extra jobs

Many managers and leaders focus obsessively on their current jobs. They don't believe they can be successful without that single focus.

However, most realize that to advance your career, especially to the C-suite, you need diverse experiences in a variety of functions, industries, and geographies.

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The value of strategic side gigs

A survey of 122 senior executives from a variety of industries agreed that outside engagements were critical to leadership success now and in the future.

Meaningful engagement should be in activities that expose you to different people, information, and cultures, but is synergistic with your personal interests and your current or future primary work. Think of yourself as having a portfolio where your job is in the middle, the outside activities surround and complement it, and you use what you've learned to advance each sphere.

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Finding the time for a side gig

Although executives face a high demand on their time, private and public sector leaders believe that you can find the time if you make it a priority. (Although you may have to give up some nights or weekends.) Make sure you deliver in your job and for your family, then take on additional responsibilities.

Try to spend 10% to 20% on these "extracurricular" activities. The amount needn't be consistent every week or month.

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Identifying the right opportunities

  • Let those within your organization and your trusted contacts know that you're looking for outside activities relevant to your job or skills.
  • Explore your passions and see if groups connected to them have any open positions that will let you learn and develop.
  • Seek out friends and colleagues who already have meaningful volunteer jobs and offer your help.
  • Get your name, interests, and expertise out there through public speaking, social media, and publishing so people can offer possibilities to you.
  • Pick a role that you are passionate about and where you make a measurable contribution.

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Justifying your commitment to the side gig

When you take on a strategic side gig, it's often wise to discuss the matter with your employer and family.

Show how the activity is relevant and how it will benefit your company and your development. If the organization you work for doesn't understand the value of an outside activity, it's at risk of becoming obsolete and should be a red flag to you.

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Long-term benefits of side gigs

  • Recharging your energy: When you squeeze in time for external activities, it can help you avoid burnout. You also get inspired and think thoughts that you wouldn't have otherwise.
  • Building knowledge, skills, and confidence: Outside engagement gives you new skills and, in turn, will enrich your own organization.
  • Developing a broader perspective: When you join other networks, you see the world from a different perspective that broadens your thinking.

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