Getting ahead in business isn’t all monotonous mixers and obligatory training seminars sponsored by HR. We say skip the standard networking events (oh, and believe us, they’re still out there) in favor of work-related affairs where you’ll meet new people, learn a new skill and maybe even have some fun. Here are seven ways the modern career woman is swapping name-tag-wearing cocktail hours for inventive career-boosting tactics.
CREATE YOUR OWN COMMUNITY
Besides offering camaraderie for anyone who works remotely, co-working spaces like WeWork, Covo and The Archery (see our other favorites here) often host casual happy hours (which is basically networking in disguise) and have a calendar of programming, from craft workshops to tastings to professional talks. There’s even a ladies-only co-working community called Radiant that hosts power lunches and a bunch of fun workshops for members if you prefer the company of an all-female crew.
USE ONLINE RESOURCES TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Thanks to technology, you can get all the encouragement, suggestions and assignments to take you to the next level via a career coach (the term for the relatively new combo of shrink and mentor who helps guide you to success) with the Better Up app. Meanwhile, The Guild will pair you up with someone in town who you should know based on your career goals (kind of like Match but for working relationships). Or try logging on to LinkedIn, which now matches you with a mentor for free. Want to make a major change? Start by taking Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment to identify your talents.
EXPAND YOUR SKILL SET
Whether you’re looking to make a career change or just become better at your job, there are tons of resources for broadening your horizons. UC Berkeley Extension offers both classroom and online courses taught by top-tier academics. Programs include burgeoning fields like data science and sustainability. General Assembly offers digital marketing workshops and coding boot camps; Impact Hub provides resources and programs for freelancers and entrepreneurs. Check out Coursera’s 2,000-plus free courses from schools like Stanford; learn how to build a brand or use social media for business with Mediabistro’s self-paced online classes. Or even talk to your boss about a secondment (temporary job switch) within your company.
JOIN A RETREAT
Go under the guise of a getaway, come back with a network of new contacts. Everyone in SF needs time to unplug, re-center and rejuvenate—and when we say everyone, we mean even the most successful people around town. So sign up for a weekend or weeklong retreat (The Pad Studios offers some great ones), where you’ll have the chance to meet all sorts of people in a relaxed, nonworking context.
LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS
There’s no greater career inspiration than listening to ladies who have already made it big. Your daily commute is the perfect time for wisdom-instilling podcasts like Girlboss Radio with Sophia Amoruso and the Spirit of 608 (for interviews with entrepreneurs and CEOs on their paths to success). And don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it—women’s conferences are a great way to get close to movers and shakers. Sign up for next year’s Female Founders Conference and the Professional BusinessWomen of California conference (Hillary Clinton gave a killer speech this year!).
USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR MORE THAN JUST KEEPING UP WITH FRIENDS
Pepper your feeds with more than just pics of your friends’ babies. Follow badass women like CareerDiva founder Eve Tahmincioglu or angel investor Ali Brown on Twitter. And for inspiration plus eye candy, consider adding it-girls like Chrissy Teigen, Karlie Kloss and Amy Schumer on Instagram.
KEEP YOUR RESOURCES UP TO DATE
You never know when a career opportunity might come down the pipeline, so it’s important to keep your docs at the ready. Schedule monthly maintenance dates for your resources. Regularly tweaking your résumé, updating your LinkedIn profile and adding your latest projects to your portfolio website are total game changers.