Twenty entrepreneurs, business professionals, coaches, and freelancers share over 100 ways to create great opportunities to advance your career, business, and personal life opportunities.
Ways to Create Opportunities
There are so many ways to create opportunities in the world, whether it is improving yourself, finding deep and rewarding relationships, starting your own business or getting promoted at work. From improving your financial standing to deepening your knowledge of the world and people around you we have you covered.
I realized early on in life that I had to start creating my own opportunities because no one was going to give me anything if I did not work for it. I had nothing, I was going to inherit nothing and I had no one to give me a hand. So, I started by reading and ensuring I finished school. I went on to fund my own University education while working. I realized I had one product, the product was me and I had to get that product right.
But enough about me, it’s all about inspiring you to make and take opportunities that will enrich your life and that of those around you.
Great Ways To Create Opportunities
- Mindfulness Helps You See Opportunity
- Continual Learning Opens Up Many Opportunities
- Experiment You Never Know What Opportunities Lay Around The Corner
- Becoming an Expert Opens Up Opportunities
- Building Your Personal Brand -- Authentic Opportunities
- Accelerate Your Career Opportunities & Promotion
- Generating Entrepreneurial Opportunities -- Be Your Own Boss
- Networking & Meetups Endless Opportunities
- Speaking Creates Opportunities
- Create Opportunities For Friendships to Flourish
- Opportunities from Everday Social Interaction
- Giving Back Creates Opportunities
Be Mindful about what happens around you
Being mindful is essentially the act of understanding what is going on around you at the present moment. Being thoughtful and reflective, looking at your life almost as an independent observer. Spend a little time each day to reflect upon the situations you were in, the activities you undertook and the people you interacted with. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are these the people I want to be with?
- How did I handle the situations I was in?
- Did I perform any activities that will further my cause?
- Am I on the right track?
- Where there any opportunities I may have missed?
The simple act of self-reflection and observance will help set you on the right path
Reach Out & Harvest The Knowledge of Others
Trent Hankinson -- Frontman and manager of the band Aqua Seca.
When I started Aqua Seca, the decision was not made entirely by myself. In fact, I reached out to all of the people that I knew had knowledge about music and the music industry. I wanted to consult them to see if what I wanted to do was even worth doing.
After reaching out, I came away with a ton of advice and numerous phone numbers to call further, so I did. To be fair, I got my original advice of reaching out to people from Ray Dalio and his book Principles. He says that you often are not the one who can make the best decisions for yourself, so it is best to reach out to people who are knowledgeable about the subject to inform you as to what the best decision is.
This is not necessarily the most daring way to make opportunities for yourself, but it certainly helped me. And Aqua Seca would not be the band that it is today without his advice.
Surround Yourself The Right People
I grew up relatively poor in a poor neighborhood, I had few opportunities and had a circle of friends to match. My best friends at school were a good bunch, but as we got to the ages of 16 to 18 years old, they started falling in with the wrong people. Drugs, violence and partying became the weekend activity of choice.
The newer people that joined our social circle were the types of people that saw no opportunity in the world, they were mostly unemployed by choice and a few even went begging in the city during the day to get money for alcohol, they begged even though they did not have too. I reflected that this was not going to be my life, getting arrested for being in a bar brawl or for dealing drugs.
I worked so hard academically, that I was offered a place at University the other side of the country. I departed for University, and I left all of them behind. They visited occasionally, and when I was home I met up with them, but it became clear I was not one of them anymore, I was different and they distanced themselves from me.
My University friends are like my brothers, friends for over 30 years, we lived together, traveled together and built our lives together. They inspired me to become something better, not by words, by their actions and companionship.
Surround yourself with the right people for you, and the opportunities for great friendships will flourish.
Travel & Broaden Your Experiences
“To travel is to evolve.” – Pierre Bernardo
I started adventure traveling when I was 20 years old and I never really stopped. My first trip was the U.S.A., followed by Thailand and India in subsequent years. Everywhere I have been gave me something back, an insight, a treasured memory or a great story.
After my trip to India in 1990, I realized how happy people could be even though they owned nothing. I also realized that I was so lucky to be born in Europe, the difference in the levels of poverty and hygiene were unbelievable.
Finally, I realized that the majority of the people in the world live with the pressure of corrupt dictatorships, extreme poverty and a serious lack of opportunities to improve their situation.
I met people whose travels literally changed their lives, they encountered opportunities to live a different life and do different things. I actually met my future wife while backpacking in Peru in South America. We hiked the Inca Trail together and were in love ever since.
This could happen to you, but it definitely will not, if you stay at home.
Think of how everything can be improved
Some of the greatest opportunities are not mind-blowing new inventions, they are mostly iterative improvements to existing things. Consider the Dyson Vacuum Cleaner, Vacuum cleaners already existed, but Sir James Dyson figured he could improve the design by removing the annoyance of having to constantly buy and replace the bag. On this simple iterative improvement, he built the Dyson empire that disrupted an industry. Sir James went on to do it again, by creating the first useable cordless Dyson Vacuum cleaner. An improvement on an already existing invention. I own one, it was exorbitantly expensive, but know we can clean the entire house in 10 minutes, instead of hours.
Everything can be improved, the key is to find things that you can improve. The next time you are annoyed by a product or service, think about what you would do to improve it. Do this often enough and your next opportunity will be waiting for you.
Think about a service people need that they do not already have
I constantly think about the jobs people have to do because no one else will do it. Two years ago, it was the middle of summer and the garbage collection had just happened. It was our organic refuse, so the dustbin needed to be cleaned because of the maggots and flies and the awful smell. Now that is a job I hate doing.
I mentioned you a young acquaintance I had, that if they were looking for freelance work, all they had to do was drop some leaflets in the local area offering to clean the refuse bins on collection day. It would be two days per month, and they could charge $5 per bin. The young chap is literally cleaning up.
Think about the jobs that people hate. Think about how you can make money out of it. From dog walking to pressure cleaning driveways, the opportunities are endless.
What do you do better than most?
We are all good at something. Think about what you are good at, usually what you excel at is something you enjoy. For some, it is writing and they take up freelance writing, for others, it is graphic design or coding.
People Love To Talk -- Listen & Learn
It is so easy to fall into the trap of talking about yourself. I personally have an internal alarm bell that sounds when I realize that I have been the only one talking for the last 10 minutes. Don’t be the mindless talker, be the listener. Start conversations, ask questions, engage, but when you find yourself rambling on, be aware it is time to let others express themselves. I certainly have learned a lot from simply listening to people. Also by listening, truly listening and understanding you can get the measure of a person.
During a conversation ask yourself these questions:
- Do they say anything of value?
- Do they talk about anything meaningful?
- Do they try to be humorous?
- Can you do anything for them?
- Can they help you in any way?
- Do they have any real friends or relationships?
If the answer is yes, they may be someone to spend more time with.
Try these thoughts while in conversation:
- Is the conversation forced and shallow?
- Do they complain a lot?
- Do they criticize others?
- Do they jump to a negative opinion?
- Do they constantly correct you and those around them?
- Do they express opinions that are against your values?
If the answer is yes, you might want to avoid these people
Build a Rapport Before You Self Promote
To unlock opportunities with others you need to first build a rapport.
“Rapport is a close and harmonious relationship in which the people are “in sync” , understand each other’s feelings or ideas, and communicate smoothly”.
Promoting one’s skills and abilities is natural for anyone who is seeking to hustle up new opportunities. But never make the cardinal mistake of starting to hustle before you have actually built any understanding or vibe with another person.
There is nothing worse than speaking with someone at a function and suddenly they have their business card out and are forcing it into your hand, it really leaves a bitter after taste, because you know they only spoke with you because you are potential business or money-making opportunity.
The fact is that people only do business with, or help people that that like and respect. So save your self-respect and dignity, only attempt to pitch someone when you think they like and know you enough to trust you and do business with you.
How to Win Friends & Influence People
When I was 16 years old, without any positive role model in my life and lacking direction, I turned to this book. It might seem cliche, but this book really did change my life.
If you have not read this book, do it now. Order it immediately and absorb the great insights it lavishes on the mind.
But do not mistake the title “How to Win Friends & Influence People”, it might suggest a cheap way to superficially manipulate people for your own purposes, this could not be further from the truth. This is a book that teaches you great lessons in how to interact, build meaningful relationships and respectfully build a circle of people around you that you love and that love you. It accomplished all this whilst encouraging you to unleash your leadership skills.
Hire A Business / Career Coach
A really good career or business coach will have real work business experience, business connections and a firm feel for the local business environment. They can advise you on startups, funding and even lucrative career moves. The best will also be able to perform exercises with you that can help you answer questions about yourself and your passions that you cannot deduce by yourself.
There are various companies online that can provide a remote business or career coach, or you can look up someone locally that you can sit with face to face who understands the local business climate and has industry contacts. A good coach can unlock a wealth of opportunity.
Find Out What Your Values and Principles Are?
If your work is in aligned with your values, principles, and strengths you will increase your overall satisfaction with life. But how do you know what your values are?
You could start by answering the following simple questions:
What are your career priorities? If you look carefully at your career path so far, you will easily notice things that are your priority. Take the time to think about the choices you made and make a list of values that continue to be repeated at each of your roles.
Do you want to have more freedom or a higher salary? If you have accepted a proposal for a lower salary that gives you more freedom, then your actions show that you value your independence more than financial reward.
Do you prefer workplace flexibility or do you revel in working in a busy office? Some people are highly social and therefore need the hustle and bustle of an office environment. Some prefer to work alone on complex problems and enjoy the quiet time to focus.
Do you prefer to work directly with customers, or rather work in a back-office team in operations or internal projects? Is wining and dining clients and sealing deals your thing, or do you prefer to drive internal change or projects to improve the business across organizations?
What made you happy when you were younger? Children have the ability to enjoy life in an innocent beauty, which unfortunately fades with the increasing responsibilities, expectations, and age. Take time to recall all the things you really enjoyed as a child. What has made you happy and then think about what you really like now? With some creativity from your side, it is quite possible to find a way to integrate these activities into your career choices as an adult.
How do you spend your free time? The way you prefer to spend your free time is quite indicative of what you value. Choose an activity that brings you the most pleasure and try to find out which ingredient is most important to you, is it communicating with people, helping others, or learning new skills.
Share your plans. Trust your closest people who will be honest with you. Ask them what they think about your strengths and weaknesses. These conversations can make you see career paths and opportunities that you probably have not considered so far.
Be Trustworthy -- Always
Honour, respect and trust are three things you should live by. You should never betray the trust of others, unless of course, they are an axe murdering serial killer, then it’s OK. Being seen as trustworthy unlocks so many potential opportunities, be they friendships, partnerships or insights. Being the rock means you have the respect of others and they will want to help and promote you, without you even having to ask.
The best compliment you will ever get from a British person is they will say you are a “good laugh”. The British love humor, that does not mean they are all funny, it just means that even trying gets you bonus points.
Inject a little humor into your interactions with people and they will warm to you. I do not mean telling jokes, just trying to see the lighter side of life. Also, if you can tell a few funny stories with you at the butt end of the joke, that will endear people to you.
Someone who cannot laugh at themselves is someone you don’t want to know.
What is Your Elevator Pitch?
The elevator pitch is the ability to explain your whole purpose in the time it takes to tell someone on an elevator. Literally meaning about one minute.
My elevator pitch for greatworklife.com would be:
“Sharing with people how to achieve their version of greatness in their work and personal life. Whether you want to be a leader, be your own boss or simply have great personal relationships, I want to share my experience and that of others with the world?”
Take the time to think of your elevator pitch, it might be the only thing people remember of you.
Expanding your mind through books.
The upgrade from cave paintings to writing to the printing press was a great move for the preservation of human knowledge, and despite the digital age, the written word, whether on a Kindle, on a blog, in a database or in paperback it still the greatest way of capturing and distributing knowledge.
Take advantage of the knowledge of all humankind and read a book, it will unlock thoughts, and inspire you to release opportunities that you never thought possible. You can start with these two books.
Optimize Your Learning Time With Audio Books
If you have a smartphone, you have the worlds knowledge at your fingertips without the need for a tree to be cut down and without the need of sitting down and reading.
Audiobooks are a great way to absorb knowledge when you do not have time to sit down and read. You can enjoy audiobooks when driving, hiking, walking and even when gardening.
I personally get through at least 50 books per year, yes really. I have tried many audiobook services but for me Audible by Amazon is the best for price and customer service.
Watch Documentaries -- YouTube & Ted Talks
A simple search on YouTube for “entrepreneur documentaries” uncovers a wealth of interesting and inspiring documentaries, from Elon Musk to Richard Branson. Another great option is to search for “Ted Talks Opportunities”, which uncovers this Ted Talk.
Subscribe To Industry Journals
Whatever industry you currently work in, or the industry you aspire to work in, you can benefit from industry periodicals and magazines. As an active investor and business owners, I personally subscribe to the Technical Analysis of Stocks & Commodities Magazine and the Economist Magazine. Such publications often highlight key issues in the industry, thought leaders and can unlock opportunities in your mind. Interesting also are the adverts in industry journals, which can give you ideas about the competition and how they pitch their services. In addition, through the job postings you who is hiring and which companies are making waves.
Listen To Podcasts
The Podcast really took off in 2004 when Apple promoted it in conjunction with the iPods and iPhones. There are over 550,000 Podcasts available whether you have an Apple or Android phone. There are Podcasts covering every topic imaginable from investing to business and career and many of them are good quality. Best of all Podcasts are absolutely free, so they are usually subsidized with adverts.
Disasters Lead to Opportunities
Melissa Ong, founder of M&P International Freights, one of the top freight forwarders in Singapore
I was looking for new learning opportunities to upgrade myself with new skills. I came across an e-commerce class and decided to find out more about it. The course costs a bomb but I decided to go ahead just to learn something new.
The e-commerce class turned out to be a hoax and I did not learn much from it. Nonetheless, I made some new friends who shared the same values as me about learning. We were able to hit it off and became very good friends.
Several months later, we started a few businesses together based on our individual skills and complemented each other really well. Today, we are great business partners and have learned so much from each other. None of this would have happened if I did not go for the e-commerce class in the first place.
Do Something, Anything -- Opportunities will Grow From There
I have been working since the age of thirteen and have never stopped. Here is a taste of some of the jobs I had as a teenager:
- I delivered milk on Sunday morning at 3 am
- Delivered newspapers, I hated it
- Worked in a Fish and Chip Shop, awful smell and worse boss, I quit after two weeks
- Walked door to door selling replacement windows, a truly terrible job, lasted 4 weeks
- Worked in a video store, best job ever for a 17-year-old
- Manager of the video store, even better job for an 18-year-old
- Worked in a call center selling Cinema Tickets
- Worked night shift in a refrigerated warehouse chopping vegetables in Portland Oregon
While many of my school buddies were sitting around unemployed and not looking for work, I was working. Was did I get from this work? I realized there are a lot of crappy jobs. I learned there were some easy jobs. I learned a great telephone manner, I learned how to pitch someone a sale on their own doorstep, and learned how to deal with the insults I received. Ultimately I realized having no higher education left me with only low paid jobs, and going to University was one of the best opportunities I have ever seized.
Experimentation Success For The Moose Poop Woman
How I have seen some strange things in the world, but one of the most striking to me is the Moose Poop woman Mary. She has literally created a business on Etsy out of creating clocks, jewelry and so much more out of Moose excretions.
There is no doubt Mary likes creating things, and this is a sure sign that people will buy anything. If you have a hobby, think about how you can turn it into a business.
The two foundations forming the basis of any expertise is certification and experience. Whatever professional work you choose to undertake you most likely will need to have some sort of certification. Nearly every industry offer certifications, whether it is a Certified Stock Market Analyst or a Wine Sommelier your first stepping is a certification. A certification essentially places a rubber stamp on your knowledge, this gives people confidence in your abilities. A great place to look for certifications available in specific industries is CareerOneStop which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Your potential new customers, employees or clients will want to know you can do the job, this means proving your experience. There are many internships and apprenticeships available to help you build experience. But what if the job you want to do, has no formal apprenticeship schemes? Try approaching companies in your niche and offer to work for free. It might not seem practical to work for no income and we all need to earn, but you could try it on a part-time basis, evenings or weekends.
If you truly want to break ground in a new area, you need to commit the right time and effort, building your foundation of certification and experience will establish you and you will be ready to propel yourself forward.
Answer Peoples Questions
If you are building experience in a new field or even want to build your knowledge in an existing field in order to create new opportunities for yourself try this. Locate the relevant online communities that have message boards and contribute. It will give you the opportunity to learn from others, and even more importantly you can see what questions people ask and what needs and lack of knowledge they have. You can even learn from those who complain online, as people who complain usually are unhappy with the service or product, you can then think about the improved services and product that would meet their needs.
Start A Blog On Something You Love
I started a personal finance blog which now provides me with passive income through affiliate marketing. This initially started as a side hustle but the blog has been growing to the point whereby it is close to equaling my income I make as a CFP. I was able to utilize my existing customer email database to grow the blog and refer financial services which I recommend to my clients. I was also able to leverage my existing knowledge base as a CFP and share that knowledge with readers of my blog.
Blogging has been a great outlet for me to connect with a wider audience, share my knowledge and educate others. At first I didn’t have any intentions to monetize my blog and didn’t realize the opportunity that was there right in front of me. I have also found it a great way to increase my exposure and develop my professional network which has led to further opportunities.
Blogging is extremely accessible and requires almost no investment capital to get started. Anyone can get started and share their expertise within their niche.
LinkedIn The Business Opportunity Engine
LinkedIn is the professional, business network of choice for the western world. If you make the effort to complete your profile, add your work experience, certifications and connect to your colleagues, you will have the start of a business opportunity engine.
Ensure that your friends and co-workers add reviews of you and your skills to your profile. You can start by endorsing those people first and asking them to return the favor. As this builds, you will find you are contacted by competitor companies, recruiters and even people seeking your services. I even know business owners who do not use an email list anymore, they simply use there linked in contacts, as they get much better customer engagement through LinkedIn. You can even connect to me on LinkedIn.
Building Your Brand -- Twitter
For me, Twitter is like being in a football stadium and shouting your message along with 50,000 other fans. The chances you will get heard are very slim. Twitter is used highly by celebrities and the media and those seeking to create a tribe/following. It can be really hard work building up a following and if you are serving a local market and your clients are not in the media or internet business, it is probably a waste of time. Regular folks do not use twitter.
On the other hand, you might be able to use it to build up a brand presence if you are willing to put in the effort. If not at least you can provide your opinions directly to Donald Trump, but beware, your strong opinions may be held against you.
Build Your Brand -- Instagram
Instagram is the latest toy for YouTubers, those in the media and those with offbeat products to promote their wares to teenage kids. If used correctly and imaginatively it can create surges of viral traffic to your website.
Build Your Brand -- Facebook
Everyone and their dog has a Facebook page for their product, service or their personal brand. But beware of this, building up a following on Facebook is a lot less useful relevant now than it used to be. Even if you have 5,000 people who like your page, you cannot really communicate with them unless you pay Facebook, it is such a scam.
You could create a Facebook group, but ensure it is a private members-only group because if it is an open group it will simply get spammed all day every day.
Subscribe To Haro
Help a Reporter Out (Haro) is a really great way to get some media coverage and build your online brand and profile. It connects media reporters with industry experts. For example, in this article I, as a media company reached out to the Haro experts to provide me their greatest tips to unlock opportunities. I received some great feedback, and it also enables me to build more contacts in the industry. Haro is free for contributing experts and there is a monthly fee for media reporters to use the service.
Prove Your Value At Work
John Showalter Founder: TightFistFinance
I had survived six rounds of layoffs at my company and the seventh round was coming. Management warned us, the seventh round was going to be brutal. People began to worry and it became obvious, not many people had ever planned that they may one day find themselves jobless. I was prepared with a fully funded emergency fund and could live off of my savings, but I would have preferred not to dip into my savings.
Finally, the dreaded day came. One hour before layoffs began, a high-level manager pulled me into an office and offered me a new position within the company, safe from layoffs. I took it without hesitation. I would later find out my direct management line was fighting to save me amongst the chaos. The following hours were tough. A conference room was set up near my cubicle where they handed out layoff notices. For the next three hours the room was a revolving door. We lost half our group in a matter of hours.
So how did I position myself so my management fought to save me?
- Be a workhorse -- Companies love it when you produce more work than your peers and it’s not difficult to do. Most employees are stuck on Facebook and not working at work. Do your job, limit distractions, and stay focused on delivering your primary work tasks.
- Be knowledgeable -- Companies like it when you know your job and you do it well. No one wants to pay a lawyer to research the law, they would rather have the lawyer already know the law. The more you know the faster you can accomplish your primary work tasks which saves the company money.
- Make your bosses life easier -- your boss is directly responsible for your pay increases. In my case, he tipped off upper management that I might be on the layoff list because he liked me and the work I performed for him. I always made his life easier and gave him numerous victories. This was his way of repaying me for making him look good throughout the years.
- Become invaluable -- The more skills you acquire the more valuable you become to your company. If you are the only person at your company who knows how to use specific software you are more valuable. What happens if you leave? The company is going to struggle and waste time waiting for someone else to learn it.
- Take on the hard tasks -- No one wants to do hard work at work, but pulling through on a tough project makes you look like a hero. Simply taking on the hardest tasks at work makes your bosses life easier, shows everyone your a workhorse, and establishes you as someone that is invaluable. Doing this one thing helps you stand out in so many ways!
Set Clear Career Goals
Ensuring you set clear career goals that are in line with your values and philosophy is the key to ensuring you retain the energy and motivation to achieve those goals. Knowing your goals will guide you in the right direction when searching for your opportunities.
How To Set Goals To Reach Opportunities:
- Your goal should be as specific as possible. Instead of “I want to be good at talking to an audience,” set the following career goal: “I want to make a successful 10-15-minute presentation to an audience of at least 50 people.
- Determine how you will measure success. What skills will you develop? What work experience do you need? What certifications do you require?
- Is the Goal is Achievable with the Current Plan? What will you need to commit in terms of time and money to make it happen?
- Set the start and end date for achieving it. Setting deadlines for each career goal is crucial for your motivation and for achieving the desired result.
Put Yourself Out There -- Apply For Internal Jobs, Even If You Are The Unlikely Candidate
Yaniv Masjedi, Chief Marketing Officer at Nextiva
You need to put yourself out there if you see an opportunity worth seizing. When I was working to support my college education, I decided to take a leap of faith. The company I was working for was opening up a marketing position, while I was working in sales. I asked the company’s executives if they would consider me, an undergraduate student with zero marketing background.
Now, they didn’t have to accept me. But, I didn’t have to ask and lobby for myself, either.
When you see an opportunity, you need to take the risk of stepping up to the plate. That’s what I did -- and 15 years later, I’m the proud CMO and Co-Founder of a 1,000+ team member organization that spans multiple continents.
Of course, it took a lot of hard work and dedication in between -- but, I attribute much of my success back to that initial decision to jump at an opportunity that excited me.
Make Sure Your Boss Knows You Want A Promotion
Now, this is not the same as asking your boss for a promotion. Informing your boss that you are interested in future career progression is the key here. You are not asking for a specific promotion or position you are letting them know that you do want to progress and grow within this team or company.
Do this before any job openings occur and give yourself time to get in shape for the step up and for your boss to see you in action before a new job opens up. Ask your boss what he thinks it takes to move up the ladder and what you can do to achieve it. Simply by letting your boss know that you would like to progress will get you noticed and open up potential new opportunities.
Apply for New Jobs Externally
If you do not feel you are getting the love, recognition or opportunities you desire in your current company, the choice is simple, apply for a job externally. A study by the Guardian Newspaper revealed that simply changing jobs for a similar position in another company yielded in 2018 an average 10% pay increase. Add the pay increase to the fact that you will be unlocking more career progression opportunities and you have a good decision.
3 Tips from an Attorney for Creating Work and Life Opportunities
Lance J. Robinson is a practicing criminal defense lawyer in New Orleans with over 22 years of experience.
As a criminal defense attorney and owner of my own law firm for over 20 years, I’ve learned a lot about creating opportunities for myself. Here are a few of my favorite tips:
- Have a clear set of goals. Knowing what you want to accomplish is the first step to finding the right opportunities to meet those goals. Always have 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year plans for your career (or even your personal life) to keep you on track.
- Take calculated risks. Creating an opportunity for yourself usually involves taking a risk. Be open to risk, but only after you’ve done your research. I had several great jobs after law school, but I wanted to take a risk and start my own firm. Once I had a plan in place, I was in a better position to create the opportunities I sought with my own business.
- Keep with the times. If I could give my younger self a piece of advice, I’d tell him to take technology and the Internet more seriously. Making sure you’re aware of trends and changes in the world will increase your awareness of new opportunities.
Speak to Strangers at Work
Even in the closed and secure environment of the corporate office, most people do not even know each other. Most people in fact only know their direct teams and a few other people they have had meetings with. What would happen if you set a challenge for yourself to speak to and introduce yourself to one new person at work every day?
By the end of the year, you would know over 250 new people outside your team. That would make you the king of networking at the office and incredibly increase your sphere of influence.
Imagine the opportunities that would unlock. Don’t forget though, after the interaction, write down their name and describe them, so you have at least some chance of recalling them in the future.
Be At Your Best In Meetings & Events
One of my best corporate opportunities came after I delivered a solid presentation at a global corporate strategy face to face meeting. I was quite junior compared to the collection of Vice Presidents and Directors at the meeting. Three months later, I received a call from one of the attendees of that meeting, with whom I had built a good rapport, and he offered me a big promotion and pay rise.
He told me directly it was because he had met me in that meeting and liked what I was doing.
Stacy Caprio. Founder: Growth Marketing
My best tip on creating work and life opportunities is to create your own small to as big as you want success and momentum first, and you’ll find as you start having small wins you’ll automatically start attracting more opportunities in that area. You can even compound the amount of opportunities you attract for business opportunities by going on podcasts, video & magazine interviews, and for personal, you can post small wins on your personal social media accounts to amplify opportunities and results there.
Ask Your Boss How You Can Improve
If you plan this well in advance, you can gather input from your manager as to what they think it takes to get promoted to the job you want. A good opportunity is in your yearly performance review or any talent planning activities that occur. Ultimately this is extremely valuable information as it will probably be your boss that awards you that promotion.
Get A Promotion Without Having To Ask
If you have to ask for a promotion, it’s already too late, you need to be a natural choice.
There are four critical factors in getting promoted:
- Deliver on your goals consistently.
- Deliver your goals on time.
- Deliver your goals in the right way with professionalism & integrity.
- You are already a natural choice.
[Related Article: Get Promoted At Work Without Asking]
Become A Leader
You do not need an official invitation to be a leader, you can take the lead on many activities without encroaching your manager’s authority or creating resentment with your teammates.
- Offer to stand-in for your boss during vacations
- Organize work events and get-togethers
- Volunteer to represent your team to other teams and organizations
- Offer to lead team meetings
- Be a thought leader by planning ahead and researching specific topics of interest to the team or group objectives.
These actions will get you noticed and unlock future opportunities.
[Related Article: The 11 Critical Traits of a Great People Manager]
Purchase An Existing Business
Nick Haschka, Partner Cub Investments. Nick is an experienced innovation leader, growth strategist, and entrepreneur with expertise in sustainable business, main street investing, and finance.
I purchased a successful 40+-year-old small business from a retiring owner using a small business loan. It’s created a delightful job and I grow equity in the business as it grows and as the loan gets paid back. There are so many great small businesses out there that need new owners because someone wants to retire. If you know enough about business you can find one, buy it, and build your career around your life vs. building your life around your career.
Be A Scrappy Entrepreneur
Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder & CEO of global marketing and branding firm Mavens & Moguls based in Cambridge, MA and she graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Business School.
I started a global branding and marketing firm 18 years ago. I am a scrappy entrepreneur who tries to find creative ways to multi-task that incorporates work and exercise. When I worked at large companies they had gyms at the office or groups who walked at lunch but when you are an entrepreneur you have to get creative to find balance. Instead of meeting up with your local colleagues at a coffee shop, over a meal or chatting with them on the phone, meet them for a walk so you can catch up while you are getting some exercise too. You’ll feel great after, the time will fly & it will be a fun activity to share.
It works with customers too, I have clients who play golf so sometimes we meet at a driving range instead of the office to discuss things especially when you are trying to think outside the box. A change in venue is always nice and you feel so much better when you are moving and not trapped behind your desk.
The other tips I like to incorporate are taking public transportation when possible, parking at the far end of the lot and walking as well as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, it adds up to a lot of extra steps and movement if you do it every day. I think that respecting my time on the calendar and taking myself as seriously as I take my most important clients is the least I can do because if I am not at my
peak performance I am not going to be useful to anyone else either.
Give yourself permission to say no. Whether it means sleeping in (no to an alarm clock), getting a massage, taking a walk, or just turning off my phone and computer (no I will respond later on my own schedule). I know that my day has been successful when I not only help my clients but also it includes simple acts of letting myself relax and enjoy the moment, those are the very best gifts I can give myself that help me stay balanced and productive.
Creating Opportunity from Remote Work
Lydia Noyes. Health, Wellness, and Lifestyle Journalist HighYa.com
I started freelance writing on the side in early 2016 when I noticed that my personal blog was starting to gain traction and people were approaching me with writing requests. After a few false starts on “content mill” sites like Iwriter and Textbroker, I made a profile on Upwork and landed my first job ($15 for a 1,500-word article a few days later). This pay rate was abysmal, but I earned a five-star review for the effort and soon landed other jobs that were significantly more profitable.
I eventually branched out to landing semi-permanent writing jobs on job boards from sites like Problogger, and after four months of freelancing, I decided to quit my day job and freelance fulltime. My first full year of freelancing I earned $50k pretax ($3,500-6,000 per month) and hit $65k in my second year. After freelancing for three years, I accepted a full-time remote position with HighYa.com as a health and wellness reporter.
Freelance writing was far from what I planned to do as an adult, as I earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies, but I am forever grateful for the opportunities that remote work opened up for me. As an example, my husband and I purchased a 33-acre farm property with my freelance writing earnings, which we are slowly turning into a dream hobby farm. This means we live in a remote place where it would be difficult for me to find traditional employment, so freelancing is what makes our lifestyle financially sustainable.
Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
Shelley Meche’tte is an extremely passionate Certified Life Purpose Coach and Women’s Change Agent, dedicated to the empowerment of women through strategized personal and professional development. ShellyMechette.com
Host Your Own Events
It’s no secret that we all want to be successes in life. Sometimes, opportunities just do not come the way we think that they should. What do you do when you are over-looked for the promotion or have reached the glass ceiling, but know that you are meant for more? You step outside of your comfort zone and host/create your own events centered around your experience and expertise.
For example, if you have experience in the restaurant business and enjoy cooking, host a networking event serving your own entrees, so that others can taste your creations, putting them in the position to desire to become a future customer.
If you are a teacher, host events that will build relationships between parent and child, using your years of experience as a guide. Creating your own events to showcase your talent and expertise will provide endless opportunities for you and future financial rewards.
Write About It
We all have a story. We all have experienced trials, disappointments, discouragement and many other things. A great way to create your own opportunity is to write about what you have learned in life through its hardships and your triumphs. We ALL need encouragement and to know that someone else who has been where we are…made it out on the other side, successfully.
When you write a book, you open up endless doors of success. You open yourself to becoming the expert on what you have written about, speaking opportunities, workshop facilitating and more! There is always someone in need. Someone is always waiting for the tools needed to assist them in winning. Your story just may be the very opportunity to provide what you BOTH are looking for.
Get on the Phone & Offer Services
We are living in a huge technology world. We communicate through email, text and social media. Sometimes, however, it’s good to go back to the primary way of communication…PHONE CALLS.
You can create amazing opportunities for yourself by getting on the phone, contacting decision makers of companies and offering your services to them for free. If you understand various software programs, offer to install/upgrade theirs for free, then ask them to give you 3 business referrals so that you are able to do the same for them.
This will establish your business/expertise, build your contacts and eventually position you to reap financially. By offering your services, you will be able to create a financial legacy for your family and become the CEO of your life and time!
Work Remotely -- Make Time For Side Hustles
Not everyone has the opportunity to utilize flexible working or remote working. Many people are forced to commute to an office every day. If you already work from home then you certainly have a lot more flexibility to plan your day and work. If you have some quiet time during the working day, you can work on yourself, your future career or plant the seeds of a new business (see Start a Sidehustle below).
If you want to try to influence your management or HR team to introduce flexible working then take a look at our article “Benefits of Remote Working for Employers“
Start a Side Hustle
Side Hustles are the next big thing that already happened. A side hustle is a small business or side job that you start while working in your current job. If you have the flexibility and manage to free up time in your day, you can start a side business to bring you additional income. If it runs successfully your side hustle may grow into a fully fledged business that can sustain you financially and perhaps even set you financially free.
Listen to my favorite podcast on side hustling called The Side Hustle Show with Nick Loper, every episode will unlock new ideas and potential opportunities in your mind. Here are some examples of the business ideas featured on this show.
- Piano Lessons
- Growing microgreens
- Strength training
- Baking sourdough bread
- Hiring virtual assistants
- Picking up trash
- Starting after school programs
Solve A Problem That You Face
Esha Herbert-Davis is an event planner with over 20 years of experience, I plan unique and life-changing Caribbean experiences for women who don’t have the time or energy to plan their own amazing vacations.
My husband and I recognized the opportunity when we were both talking about our first time going to Trinidad Carnival. We realized that we both experienced frustration when trying to coordinate our trips there. Online resources and information about what events to go to, how to get tickets and where to stay were extremely limited.
Then we thought, there are probably other people out there who feel the same frustration. Are there group packages that do all of the coordination for people who want to experience this amazing festival? After being unable to find any all-inclusive options, Ultimate Trinidad Carnival was born. We were the first all-inclusive Trinidad Carnival offering in the market back in 2011. Seizing this opportunity means we get to work in a business and share a culture that we love, and work with wonderful clients from around the world!
Turn a Trend Into A Business or Start a Trend
Lacey Mayer, Van life Influencer & Founder SDCampervans.com
I was miserable working for what I thought was my dream job. I put in years of schooling only to find myself enslaved to a system. This system is failing our society, but I found a community that offered a different outlook on life. We moved into a van, got remote jobs, and started traveling. We go to the beach, go biking, and do other things we love intermittent with working remotely every single day. We will never lock ourselves into four walls and work ourselves to the core, only to earn a small paycheck for our services ever again. The NEW RICH, means you have TIME to spend on yourself, your family, your friends, your community, and your passions, not money to spend on items you think make you happy. We ARE happy.
With our companies, we make owning a home and doing what you love to do at the same time accessible to the public. We do this by building dream homes, just on wheels! People are asking themselves more and more each day, “What is this 9:00-5:00 really doing for me if I’m miserable?” This way, though, is the new way to live, work, and travel AT THE SAME TIME.
SD Campervans builds out tiny homes complete with our feminine touches (we are a majority women-owned and operated company) such as backsplashes, builder oak countertops, recessed lighting, and shiplap ceilings. These homes are on wheels and ready to go wherever your next adventure takes you.
Find A Business Partner In An Existing Business
Another way to create a business opportunity is to buy your way into an existing business as a co-founder or partner. This has the advantage of you hitting the ground running in an existing business, with someone who already has experience. Of course you would need to be compatible with the person and have skills that are complimentary to theirs. You could start your search at Startups.com
Do What No-one Else Is Doing
Rishit Shah is CEO and Editor at TallySchool.
While doing my CA course, I learned an accounting software called Tally. At that time, I had some problem while working in Tally. So, I looked up the internet to solve my problem. To my surprise, there were very few websites who were offering good
solutions to the problem I had.
And, therefore I saw an opportunity there. I created my own website called TallySchool where I started teaching Tally.
In around six months, it took off and was really well received by the people. Today, it is one of the top websites, where people come to learn Tally.
Turn Your Passion Into Your Work
Sahara Rose De Vore empowers travelers to take control and design their dream lifestyle so they can have the transformative and impactful travel experiences that they crave. The Travel Coach Network
When I graduated from university in 2010, I had no clue what my ideal career path was despite having a bachelors degree in tourism. I knew about the job options that exist and I knew about the growing digital nomad jobs but, none of that really resonated with me. I’ve never been someone who followed the norm either.
I didn’t want to go the typical route in life from college, climbing the corporate latter, getting married, buying a house, and having a family. Do I want some of those, absolutely but, I want them on my own terms. The summer after graduating from college, I packed my bag for the first time and off I went to travel the world. I was able to save enough money after making slight adjustments in how I budgeted and managed my money. I was hoping that travel would help me learn who I was, what I wanted out of life, and what my purpose is.
I knew I wanted more out of life and I wanted a career that aligned my passions and purpose with how I earned a living. I wanted to create my own lifestyle where I didn’t feel restricted or limited on time or money. I have always displayed this idea by working various odd jobs that I enjoyed doing, that taught me new skills, and that were flexible with good pay which I how I afforded to travel the world. Since 2010, I have traveled to over 80 countries by the age of 30 on my own.
Since I knew the qualities that I wanted in a career and I knew how easy it was to have the career you dream of because the internet and technology enables it, I was determined to find what I was meant to do. I allowed time and my travel experiences to inspire my career choice as a travel coach and starting my own online business. I have always created opportunities for myself by trying new things, learning about anything and everything I could, meeting and talking with new people, and challenging myself to learn what I was good at, what I enjoyed doing, and what my weaknesses were.
I took the leap and invested in myself not only through traveling but also in mentors who I admired in the coaching and business industries. I had to learn how to ask for help and when I finally did, it changed the entire trajectory of my career path. I began studying as much as I could about the travel industry, about being a coach, about the voids and problems that existed in tourism and hospitality industries. I meshed that information with everything that I knew, experienced, and learned while traveling. I used my time traveling as an opportunity to do my own market research and have thousands of conversations with people all over the world about travel trends, why people traveled, travel jobs, and tons more. This is what all lead me designing my dream career that is thriving today.
The benefits that I have received from creating these opportunities for myself include being able to help others design their own dream lifestyle, helping travelers align their passion for travel with their purpose, finding my own life-long purpose as a travel coach, being able to grow my business to its highest potential that suits my vision for it, being financially, time, and spiritually free, and having overall happiness.
Some tips that I would have on creating work and life opportunities are:
- Use your resources. Learn as much as you can about whatever you want online, in books, and from other people. The world is filled is so much accessible free information, it’s up to you to use it.
- Build authentic connections with people. Learn from anyone and everyone. Everyone has something to teach.
- Ask for help. Find someone who is doing or has done something that you want and ask for help, guidance, or mentorship
- Invest in yourself. This can be financially, enriching your life with travel, investing in a coach or mentor, or investing time to learn and start a business.
- Follow your own path. It doesn’t matter what society, friends, or family expect or think. Live your life for yourself and design your ideal lifestyle.
- Try new things. The more things you try (jobs, hobbies, etc) the more you will learn about what you like, don’t like and want out of life and career.
- Challenge yourself and make mistakes. Making mistakes is key to accelerating your route to finding your purpose and vision in life or business.
Meet With New People
Martin Luenendonk is a data-driven business innovator and the Co-Founder & CEO of Cleverism which is an online job portal packed with tons of unique jobs of every field.
Look for people and co-workers who are on the same path. These people can motivate and inspire you to do great things in life. Spend some time and start networking with like-minded people who share the field with you. Socializing does not simply mean greeting each other on social media networks or communicate via emails.
Personal interaction is extremely important if you really want to learn something. Try to join local meet up groups, industry conferences, or events related to your field. This way, you increase the chances of meeting with new people who can create new opportunities for you and help you reach your goal.
For example, if you are an entrepreneur looking for an investor, there are chances that with effective communication and by pitching a great business idea, you may find a good investor. So, meeting new people always bring great opportunities.
Online Mastermind Groups -- Unlock Great Possibilities
David Leonhardt is President of THGM Writers, serving small business and individuals.
The very best opportunity generator for me has been mastermind communities. These are online chat groups dedicated to certain field of interest. You can find those on LinkedIn and FaceBook, although my preferred gatherings are in Skype chat rooms.
In my case, I am in a number of chats specific to professional writing, blogging and marketing. People post questions, they look for collaborators, they offer opportunities and they share their work sometimes.
The benefits of participating in these chat rooms are numerous and on-going. I have had the opportunity to subcontract on bigger contracts. I have had free services for my business. I have found opportunities to promote my business for free or for a fee, as those often get announced. I have had the chance to guest post on the blogs of other participants. I have found subcontractors to help me complete projects. And I’ve gotten a lot of advice when I’ve been stuck or uncertain about something.
Networking always opens the doors to opportunities. I used to belong to a BNI (Business Networking International) group, which is offline networking. But online mastermind communities are even more useful for opening up opportunities, especially for businesses not confined by geography.
Create Your Own Mastermind Group
There is no better way to generate ideas, opportunities, seek help and offer help to others than through a mastermind group. If you don’t find a mastermind group to service your needs in your vicinity, why not create your own. Reach out to people you respect and ask them if they are interested. It is a great honor to be asked to join a mastermind group and most entrepreneurs understand the benefits
Use Industry Societies or Associations To Generate Leads & Opportunities
Most substantial industry or professional associations will have a regular newsletter or periodical. But what they also do is run regular functions, get-togethers or dinners. Attending these meetups and social functions will give you access to a welath of knowledge and new connections. Don’t forget to bring your business cards.
Unleash the Power of Local Meetups
Meetup.com is the powerhouse behind the majority of local meetup communities. It provides the framework for organizing, gathering participants and communicating with the attendees. If you have not tried it head on over to the website I am sure there will already be a local meetup in your area of interest.
Join Online Communities
If you cannot attend in person, the other option is to join an online community of like-minded people. The internet is full of them, and indeed there are over 100 communities with over a million participants. Indeed there may be large online communities but how useful are they to develop your network? Definitely not as effective as local meetups or mastermind groups. However the big advantage of online communities might not be to develop meaningful relations, but more to understand future opportunities. As mentioned previously try this.
Locate the relevant online communities that have message boards and contribute. It will give you the opportunity to learn from others, and even more importantly you can see what questions people ask and what needs and lack of knowledge they have. You can even learn from those who complain online, as people who complain usually are unhappy with the service or product, you can then think about the improved services and product that would meet their needs.
Use Your Family Network
Although frowned upon by those who do not have a strong family network, nepotism is still rife. Indeed the Washington Post wrote a scathing article into the Trump family’s nepotism. So strong favoritism of family members with complete disregard for ability is generally not a good idea, but that does not mean your family members cannot unlock the door to opportunity for you, ask around there could be a familiar helping hand.
Join Toastmasters -- Being A Good Communicator Opens Doors
Being able to clearly and intelligibly get your point across is vital in today’s business world. Your words should also mean something. But it is not what you say, it is also how you say it.
All of us from the CEO to the individual contributor can improve their speaking skills. If you seriously want to grow your confidence and engagement the single best way to do it is by joining the not for profit organization Toastmasters. I was a member myself for two years.
Not only will your public speaking improve dramatically, but you will also network and really get to know some extremely interesting people. I have met CEO’s, business owners, actresses and people with unbelievable charisma. When you are a confident speaker you can move on to the next tip.
Paid Speaking Engagements Across The Globe
Galit Ventura Rozen is an award-winning professional speaker, entrepreneur, business performance expert and commercial real estate broker.
By networking virtually and in person I have created relationships and am known as an expert in my field of business, mindset and entrepreneurship.
Those that I meet are not always directly the ones that are interested in hiring me, many times they are telling others in their network about me and then another company will reach out. Referrals are the best way to grow your business. This is done through connecting with others and asking how you can benefit and support their business, and it has turned around 10 fold to benefit my business as well.
Speak At Industry Events & Seminars
Becoming a guest speaker or keynote speaker at any event will unlock a new world of opportunity. I have been invited to speak at many corporate events over the years and they certainly get you recognized. People respect those that can get up and speak, and if you are good they might even hear your message. Even being asked to speak is an acknowledgment of your influence.
Ask A Question -- Get Noticed
Whether you are in a meeting at work or a public gathering or a seminar, if there is an opportunity to speak up and be heard, take it, even if it is simply asking a question. Even if it makes you feel uncomfortable, you should get into the habit of interacting with speakers and audiences.
Go On Podcasts or Radio
Ok so now you have the experience, you have expertise and you have your personal brand. But you want to reach a wider audience to unlock even more opportunity. You could generate interest by appearing on Podcasts, or even radio shows. But how do you get those gigs? Try Help a Reporter Out.
Online Dating Is Out -- Use Meetup
A good friend of minds has been single for many years and even though he has tried all the main online dating agencies he has been unsuccessful in attracting any potential partners. It may be because he has a “face for radio”, and despite being successful, charismatic and an all-round awesome guy, when you are simply judged by a picture of your face it is a shallow and poor experience.
He then had the brainwave to attend events through meetup.com, and although Meetup.com not a dating site, he joined a group called “The Cocktail Crawl” which was a group of 20 women that met up and crawled the bars drinking cocktails. He was the only guy in the group, he said he had a fantastic time.
Join A Recreation or Sports Club
If you enjoy bowling, hiking, climbing, tennis, golf or any kind of physical activity, there will be a local club for you. Although the people in the club might not be aligned to an industry or your outlook, you will still have a significant opportunity to make some meaningful friendships. And without friends and family, what do we have? Nothing.
Become President Of A Sports Club
If you are in a club long enough you might have the opportunity to run for president of the club, or even one of the senior roles like treasurer. This will give you the opportunity to get to know all the members and even welcome aboard new members, significantly broadening your circle of acquaintances.
Travel To Meet Interesting People
For me, backpacking is the best way to meet interesting people, and the more exotic the location the better. But do not fall into the trap of hiring a car and driving everywhere. The places you meet people are on buses, trains, in stations, and on the hiking trails. The great thing is, that the people you tend to meet when traveling the world tend to be broadminded, liberal, adventurous and fun. Now those are my kind of friends.
Introduce Yourself At The Watercooler
Try this, the next time you drop by the watercooler for a refreshing drink, introduce yourself to the next person that comes along. Do this often enough and you will know everyone in the company, now that is a good network.
Join Company Sports Clubs
A great place to meet new people is at corporate sports clubs and sporting events. Any company of significant size will usually have a running club, tennis club or at least a company gym. Attend these clubs and over time you will get to know everyone there. And if your company is hosting charity events, take part.
Hang With The Smokers or The Drinkers
How if you enjoy smoking and drinking then you will probably know this secret. Hanging with the smokers on their smoke break is literally one of the great ways to meet people. Smokers are a marginalized minority, and what do with know about minorities, they stick together and they talk.
Now drinkers love a good chat and a laugh, if you go out for a party night with a bunch of drinkers, you are guaranteed to have the start of some good buddy relationships.
Works Functions Are The Best Networking Opportunities.
You should always attend work functions, such as parties, celebrations and sales kick-offs. If there is a leaving party for someone, you should be there. There is no better way to meet people and deepen relationships than over drinks with colleagues. Alcohol lowers the inhibitions and you will find you can discuss things with your boss or new acquaintances, that you could never broach in the office.
Creating Opportunities for Others
Believe it or not, creating opportunities for others is a mutually beneficial transaction. For example, it is often said that
“the sign of a good leader is they create other good leaders”
This is in fact very true. For example, if you as a manager, coach and mentor your team members and promote them in the organization, they will never forget that. If you are a good leader with a great relationship with them you are in fact building a strong circle of influence, these people will speak highly of you, support you and be there for you.
People want the same things as you, respect, dignity and to be valued, give them what they need and you will be paid back in full.
Help Others -- Give Your Time To People In Need
In many of the examples so far we have discussed how to create opportunities for you, in your business, career, and friendships. But what about others that need opportunities, will you help them. After the Syrian refugee crisis, our town received about 30 refugees from Africa. I found it was amazing how a part of the towns community volunteered their help and formed a refugee committee. My wife and I helped also. We made friends with some and helped them as much as we could. My wife was even named as godmother to one of their children. Opportunities come in many shapes and sizes, this was the opportunity to help others and do something altruistic. Try it.
Sponsor A Local Charity Event
There are charity events happening all the time, get involved, do a charity run, if you cannot run, try contributing in another way, sponsor the event. Sponsoring is a nice way of helping because you will donate money to the event and in exchange get a mention on a leaflet or poster for the event. You can then write it off against the marketing budget, it is a win-win.
Give Your Time To Charity
Five years ago, my wife had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador with a charity called ProNino who help children in poverty in Central America. She was there for 4 weeks, to educate the children and help paint and repair the jungle village. Now that is giving time to charity. But what did she gain from this? She met another woman who is now one of her best friends, she had some great stories and experiences and she had a good feeling in her heart. What more motivation do you need to help others.
Wow, that was a huge collection of tips and stories about creating opportunities. Did you enjoy it, did it spark any ideas in your mind? If you liked it say thanks in the comments below and share with a friend who might need the inspiration.