To succeed at work and stand out from your peers, effective personal branding is about being an expert in one area and having a unique point of view, but that doesn’t mean being so narrowly focused that you can’t adapt. Having knowledge and skill sets in a variety of areas can help you become a better problem solver while you build deeper connections with your team. And that variety doesn’t have to be directly tied to your job; what you do outside the office also contributes significantly to your versatility.
Regardless of your job title, becoming a more well-rounded employeemeans getting out of your comfort zone more often. These four strategies can make that easier:
1. Choose roads less traveled.
In a world that’s increasingly dominated by change, the ability to adapt is one of the most fundamental aspects of being well-rounded. Traveling is an excellent, hands-on way to get comfortable with new environments and develop on-the-fly problem-solving skills. That adaptability is also why 94% of business leaders surveyed in a Brightspark report consider travel experience to be a highly valuable trait in new employees.
To get the most out of this strategy, visit places you’ve never been to before and do a deep dive so that you’ll learn a lot about other cultures. Before you book that international trip, carefully review the country’s visa requirements, as your travel plans might require approval from another government. Upgraded Points, a website that helps consumers navigate affordable travel, has plenty of additional pointers.
2. Keep up with current news, both local and global.
Keeping up with current news events makes you better at water-cooler talk, but the best learning opportunities come from expanding your news sources to the communities beyond your personal frame of reference. This can help you make better professional decisions, become more culturally fluent, and find opportunities you would otherwise miss out on. Erik Huberman, CEO of Hawke Media, explains, “Smart business leaders are looking back on some of the big (and small) news stories of the past year to see what kinds of lessons they might offer.”
For example, he points to the way Wendy’s responded to a tweet from a 16-year-old student last year as an example of what business leaders can glean from those small news stories. The fast-food giant’s promise of a year of free chicken nuggets transformed into #NuggsForCarter, which became the most trending tweet of all time and yielded free positive press for the company. Huberman says that the Wendy’s story gives business leaders a lesson on the importance of paying attention to the little guys in their marketing strategy.
3. Become a forever learner.
Long after graduation, it’s important to maintain the mindset of a student. You don’t have to take on astronomical student loans or enroll in graduate school to do this. From informal classes at a community college to training programs offered by coding boot camps, continuing education opportunities abound. The key is to keep learning. Having that growth mindset means you’ll be better able to improve your work performance.
To maximize the benefit, take classes in things that you don’t already excel in. You’ll become more well-rounded if you’re willing to learn things that you’ve never studied at all, such as arts and crafts or a foreign language. You can also beef up your career skills through online resources like HubSpot Academy or Codecademy, which offer comprehensive online courses and certification programs that you can complete from home.
4. Take cultural tours.
Whether you need a relaxing activity for the weekend or want to learn as much as you can during a trip abroad, take full advantage of the cultural scene by visiting a variety of museums, music venues, theaters, and historic neighborhoods. Many museums offer free admission to general exhibits either all the time or on particular days. Others, like The Field Museum in Chicago, offer guided tours of special collections for adults, offering interesting background information to enhance the experience.
Having a more-than-cursory knowledge about different cultures makes even your small talk more well-rounded. Business etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore observes that “seasoned conversationalists are usually great storytellers and can carry on a conversation about a wide range of topics.” The skills and experiences from all four of these strategies will make you a more versatile and more valuable resource to both colleagues and clients. Fortunately, it just takes a small investment of time (and maybe a few frequent-flyer miles) to start reaping the rewards.