If you’re poking around the internet reading about ways to grow your career, chances are that it genuinely matters to you. Assuming you already know the value of (and are) surrounding yourself with people who build you up, support you, and who are equally motivated, it can be fun to do things with your friends that actually benefit everyone’s careers. Don't know where to start? Here are 35 ideas.
35 career-boosting things to do with friends
1. Commit to an outing where you do not talk about work.
OK, this is pretty basic but it's also pretty important — and do-able. Even if work is priority at the highest rank for all your pals, it’s super important to create some space for different topics of conversation and activities. Make it fun by creating a “penalty” — if someone brings up work she has to buy an appetizer for the table or maybe do a “dare” if you’re looking to have some silly fun.
2. Designate time to talk about work.
On the flipside, when your career matters to you and your pals, work comes up. In the same way that it’s beneficial to dedicate “work-free” time, it can be helpful, and oddly fun, to talk about work. Just keep the negativity to a minimum and focus on constructive talk only.
3. Review each other's social media accounts.
Have you ever gotten a fresh set of eyes on your Facebook or LinkedIn accounts? Have your friends take a look, and do the same for them. This will help you keep things professional, know if you're using the best photos and so on.
4. Share regular updates on successes you have.
If work matters to you, you need to make that clear in your relationships (friends included) and regularly share each day! This will create an open, positive and supportive environment, and it will allow you to get to know a different side of your friends and give you the opportunity to share great successes, which we all enjoy.
5. Do an improv class.
I did this with two friends recently (and made a new friend in the class) so I can say firsthand that the applications of improv to the professional world and the parallels in a few coaching concepts are uncanny!
It’s something different, something a little uncomfortable for many, and it's something that's certainly fun. It also brings up new ways to approach communication, flexibility and brainstorming, which are all characteristics of any strong professional.
6. Start a blog together.
Join forces and write on a topic you all have in common. Take turns posting, or write articles together. The world can benefit from your insights!
7. Try new things regularly.
Maybe improv’s not your thing, and that’s OK. Instead, with a group of friends or one friend, commit to trying one new thing every month, quarter or few weeks. The point is you’re trying something brand new. This keeps things new and exciting in your life and helps to create muscle memory about being open to trying new things.
8. Throw a dinner party.
Whether you want to talk about work is up to you. Don't invite the partners — just keep it to the squad. For even more fun, dress up for the occasion and make it fancy.
9. Do some "just for fun" activities.
Maybe you have a spa day with your best friends or, if you live in a city, try out all the food the city has to offer. If you live near a coast, hit the beach. There are tons of activities and games for each friend's family to join, too, like going to an amusement park or hitting up a yard sale.
10. Host a book club.
Try these books to motivate you in your career.
11. Invite each other to business events.
Those networking events that you know you should go to can be actually pretty fun with a pal. Going to an event with a friend makes it less awkward but most women I speak with then tell me they end up talking with their friend all night. Reminder: This really isn’t the point. Make it more fun and mutually beneficial by challenging each other to talk to new people at events — make it a game!
12. Map out goals together.
Where do you want to be in five years? Ten years? Play a game of "sky is the limit" when sharing your goals with one another. They don't have to be realistic!
13. Volunteer together.
This is a great way to bond while engaging in meaningful work together and giving back to the community.
14. Introduce your work friends to your other friends.
Time to mix circles! If you know that your work friends and your outside work friends would really get along, why not host an event or get drinks and spread the love?
15. Spark conversation with new people in non-professional places.
Let's face it, it's fun to suggest to a single girlfriend go chat up a cute guy at a bar. This might seem unrelated to professional growth or even unkind for a friend, but hear me out... The act of striking up (and holding) a conversation with a stranger is a skill that will never not benefit you professionally or personally. You'll grow your comfort in new, sometimes awkward, settings and maybe meet a new friend or partner along the way!
16. Compliment one another.
Who doesn't like getting compliments? It's equally rewarding to give them. Take some time to tell your friend how much you admire her professional path or what a great mother she is. You'll both feel better.
17. Have venting time.
It's fun to talk about your successes, but you also need time to let it out and vent about your work problems. Whether your boss is on your case or you just have too much work on your plate, your friends will hear you out.
18. Join a professional organization together.
If you're in the same field, it will be great to be able to travel to conferences and room together, as well as attend industry events.
19. Have practice interviews.
This could actually benefit your career in a substantial way. If you practice interviewing with a friend before the main event, you'll be better prepared and less anxious to tackle the real thing.
20. Throw promotion parties.
Did your friend just secure that coveted role? Show her how proud you are by having a big bash in her honor.
21. Exercise together.
Remember to prioritize your health. This will also give you a brain boost that will, in turn, help your work performance.
22. Share your hobbies.
It never hurts to learn new things. Share your passions with one another, even teaching each other to do something new and different — board games, traveling, playing an instrument...the possibilities are endless.
23. Take a class together.
By the same token, learn something new together. Knowledge is power, after all, and maybe you can even take a newfound skill to work.
24. Coach each other.
Does your friend really want that raise at work but not know how to ask? Give her a pep talk, sharing the skills you've learned in your career. Pooling your knowledge together can help you all succeed in your jobs.
25. Talk through your bad days.
There's no need to hold it all inside. Your friends are there to support you, so share when things aren't going through.
26. Ask for what you need.
If you'd like your friend to support you in a specific way or just want a sympathetic ear, make sure to voice it.
27. Go to yoga.
It's a great way to get in shape and destress after a long work day. When your friends are there, what could be better?
28. Cook together.
Trying out new recipes after a difficult day at the office is a great way to let out some steam — and have a great meal.
29. Read each other's resumes.
Doesn't sound fun? Hear me out: getting a fresh set of eyes on your resume, even if it's not from someone in your industry, can help you hone and better frame your achievements. Plus, you can make a resume swap party of it, complete with snacks and drinks.
30. Get lunch during the workweek.
Have offices near each other? Why not meet up and catch a quick break?
31. Two words: happy hour.
The best hour (or two) of the day!
32. Visit each other at work.
Show your friends off at the office! This is a great way to blend your two worlds and show your friends what your work life is really like.
33. Surprise each other.
Is your friend having a tough week at the office? Send her flowers or a care package — just a little "I'm thinking of you" to help her through a stressful time.
34. Have a professional fashion show.
Does your work wardrobe need a refresh? Model outfits for one another, or even have a clothes swap to try different combos.
8. Talk about each other. Many people don't find it enjoyable to brag about themselves but do like to brag about someone else we're proud of. Do this! Start getting comfortable bringing up your friends in professional conversations. Let your pals know you’re doing it and suggest they do the same.
Professional fulfillment is important to many, but don’t neglect your personal relationships while achieving success. Especially when there are ways like this to do both!
Jane Scudder is a certified leadership and personal development coach, facilitator, and workplace & strategy consultant based in Chicago, IL. She helps individuals and group navigate their careers, teams, and personal lives. Find out more at janescudder.com.