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Career Planning: How To Venture Into The Growing Gig Economy

April 14, 2017

Gig economy

Have you thought about taking up a side job—perhaps some freelance projects to enhance your skills? If so, you could become part of the expanding gig economy, in which contract workers, freelancers, part-timers, and others work outside the traditional employment relationship.

Diane Mulcahy offers insights into this career path in a podcast interview with AMA Edgewise. Mulcahy is a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation, an adjunct lecturer at Babson College, and the author of The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life You Want (AMACOM, 2016).

In the AMA podcast, Mulcahy said that the gig economy is having a big impact on the way people approach their work lives. In fact, an estimated 30% of the workforce is now engaged in some type of gig work. “The gig economy is big, it’s growing, and it crosses professions, income levels, and all demographics,” she said.

Mulcahy pointed to several benefits of the gig economy: It allows people to diversify their investment of time, energy, and labor in their career, which offers protection against job insecurity. In addition, people can build their business acumen by incorporating new skills, industries, and sectors into their work experience.

“I think getting out of your comfort zone and exploring completely different areas that interest you is one of the huge opportunities and advantages of the gig economy,” she said.

Joining the gig economy

If you’re looking to test the waters, consider this advice from Mulcahy:

Create a personal definition of success. Think intentionally about what success looks like for you, considering factors such as your values, what’s important to you, and the personal and professional goals you want to accomplish. “The life that we build has to incorporate both if it’s ultimately going to be satisfying and meaningful,” she said.

Execute at least one side gig. Gig work doesn’t have to be a money-making venture at the start, said Mulcahy. You could do volunteer work, pursue a hobby or interest, or take a board position to open a path to the gig economy. “Any of those things will increase your skills and expand your network, and therefore open up opportunities for you,” she said.

Use “inbound connecting” to gain visibility. In place of traditional networking at cocktail parties and events, look for ways to connect with people that bring them to you. Through social media, written communications, and speaking engagements, she said, you can express your ideas in a way that will lead others to approach you to ask questions and discuss your perspectives further.

For women interested in the gig economy, AMA is offering a free webcast with Diane Mulcahy in July.

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American Management Association is a world leader in professional development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—“learning through doing”—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career journey. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including seminars, Webcasts and podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books and research.

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