The COVID-19 pandemic has professionals thinking about how to recession-proof their careers — my coaching clients included. Many are asking me how they can stay relevant as the economy slows down.
You might have similar concerns.
With layoffs and furloughs on the rise, perhaps you’re wondering how to add more value in your current role. Or maybe you’ve lost your job, and want to reengage your network so you can get back on your feet.
The problem is, you might not even be sure what it means to “add value” or understand how it plays out in this new reality where you’re working from home. You may want to build long-term connections at your workplace and with your network, but have trouble making it happen. Or worse, you feel like you have nothing to give and doubt your worthiness.
The best way to get past these worries is to move away from abstract thinking (which lets what-if’s and doubts go crazy) towards concrete thinking. This technique, known as concreteness training, is common for anxiety. You can apply it to the elusive question of how to “add value” and stay relevant in relationships.
Here are specific examples of how you make yourself indispensable — so you can stop stressing and start connecting.
Make Yourself Indispensable
1. Make key instructions
Networking is, of course, all about connections. Have you come across two people you know could help each other? Or one contact who could solve another person’s problem? Introduce them to one another via email.
2. Teach what you know
For instance, if you’re a master at Excel, you might offer to do a virtual lunch-and-learn, which gives you visibility and influence you can draw on when you’re looking for a promotion. If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer, hold a formal online webinar or jump on live video to drum up business and boost your visibility.
3. Add a P.S. to follow-up emails
It’s important to follow up with contacts, so what if you added a little something extra to your outreach? Experts say the PS is an eye-catching part of any email that contacts are sure to read. You can pass along an article, book, or video they’d find useful, for instance.
4. Organize virtual happy hour
Be the one who brings people together. Send out invites to gather your team or a group of colleagues on a Zoom call. You never know what opportunities and connections may arise from the conversation.
5. Make an effort to proactively reach out
Every week, set a goal to send a few “soft touches.” This may be liking people’s social media posts, leaving a comment, or sending a short message to check in and see how they are doing.
6. Ask “What are you focusing on and how can I help?”
Offer your advice or assistance.
When you use active listening, networking becomes effortless. It shifts the focus away from figuring out how to provide someone value. Instead, you’re giving a colleague the chance to reveal it to you.
7. Give compliments freely
Offer to write a letter of recommendation, give a testimonial, Yelp review, or recommend them on LinkedIn.
8. Express gratitude for the ways people add value to your life
Email your mentor to share how you took action on their advice. Text a thank you note to someone who referred business to you. If you’re feeling creative, send a handwritten card.
Learn to say thank you, specifically, and from a grateful heart.
What could add more value than that?