Whether you’re meeting a college colleague for a far overdue dinner or dining with a client (socially distanced, of course), you want to be thinking about ways to advance your career or better your business. Here are some topics that are appropriate to speak up on and that may get you some better insight.
- Emerging Trends + Best Practices. (Eg. How’s business been amidst COVID-19?)
- It’s true that many industries and businesses have been struggling during the pandemic, due to consumers’ inability to travel or physically be in locations. Although that might seem like discussing COVID-19 would be a touchy subject, it’s not likely to be if you can bring it up in a manner that’s professional and shows genuine concern. The pandemic has drastically changed and continues to change the way every industry does business.
- Not only that, but people have been trying to help each other out. If a colleague or client talks to you about how they’re managing or changing business practices, assuming it’s not confidential information, it can be something that you can either implement at your current place of work, your own business, or just keep in the back of your mind until you may have to brainstorm ideas. Prior to the pandemic, many businesses didn’t have an emergency plan for a situation like this or even a way to switch to fully remote work in the blink of an eye. Now, as many people are working from home, fully pandemic-response teams at companies have been formed, and there are constantly new and upcoming ways to handle challenges.
- Career Journeys + Performance/Burn Out Advice.
- No matter who you’re talking to, it’s almost certain that the individual didn’t have a perfectly mapped out career path because those don’t really exist. Discussing career journeys and expectations with somebody can really give you a different perspective on ideas. Such as in last week’s article about conversations to have with your friends and colleagues, one of the most informative talks you can have with somebody is about his or her experiences. We learn through each other’s breakthroughs, failures, and, of course, career changes. Someone working at a different firm or within a different role might have profound advice or just a fascinating story with tales of promotions or business ventures that you would have never heard about – had you not asked.
- Plus, no matter who you’re discussing with, it’s a certainty that the individual has gone through at least a few rounds of performance evaluations. With this, however, comes the connotation of believing that to get consistently positive evaluations and to move up in a company, you must work hard and tirelessly without ever taking breaks. This belief leads a lot of people to say “yes!” to every project they’re offered, to never decline an assignment or ask others for help, and work incredibly long hours while sacrificing sleep, socialization, and relaxation. This leads people to ultimately burn out or begin despising their jobs and careers, so discussing with someone on how to avoid this or how to better balance your life and job is crucially important.
- General Conversation (No Business Involved!)
- Please take some time, or even most of the time, at dinner to let go of work and business, just to enjoy each other’s company and talk about everything else going on. Talk about food, family, friends, and anything else going on in your life. If there’s anything this year has taught us, it’s that the world is so unpredictable. Enjoy safe and distanced quality time with your loved ones, because nobody knows what traveling or social restrictions may be like tomorrow.
- Most importantly, because COVID-19 has interrupted how many people worked in the past by creating a need for a WFH (work from home) set up, mental health is priceless. So many professionals are finding it difficult to switch off from “work mode,” due to having to work from the same location that they do everything else in. Because of this, it’s essential to give yourself a break and genuinely form connections with others, because there’s no shortage of things to discuss. Show that you really care about the developments in someone’s life, outside of just their work or career, whether it’s your boss, high school acquaintance, or coworker, and it won’t just make for a great dinner conversation but will help your career by giving you a true, long-lasting connection.