How to Increase Your Network

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Throughout your career, you’ll come to realize that people heavily rely upon their professional networks. Even if you’re only at the beginning of your career, you likely already have a fairly extensive network, from high school, college, and any jobs or internships you held during that time. In the professional world, your network is how you can find out about new opportunities, ask questions about an industry, city, or company you’re interested in, or even find a place to live. It’s beneficial to continuously work on strengthening and increasing your network of connections, so here are some tips on how to do so.

Create an online presence

As you start to increase your network, it’s time to create an online presence for yourself. Think of how you’d like to portray yourself online and what you want your personal brand to say about you. Create profiles like LinkedIn and Twitter and then make sure they’re professional; you don’t want a possible future boss or coworker to see the uninformed tweets you sent in high school. An online presence also provides you with a way to keep track of the people you meet as you enhance your network.

Attend lots of events

If you live in a city, there are going to be plenty of networking and professional development events around you. Many local governments organize events for professionals in the area in order to encourage them to connect. There are also plenty of groups that meetup that share a common interest or hobby. Find some of these groups online and then attend meetups to get to know new people. You can also try tapping into your alumni network in the area; colleges are usually more than happy to help with this step.

Learn to talk to strangers

As you attend networking events, you’ll need to learn how to talk to people that you don’t know very well. Make sure you do not spend too much time talking about yourself; learn to ask other people questions. While you are looking to enhance your professional network, do not write someone off simply because you don’t see a way they can help you. It’s important to be polite to people; you could strike up a friendship or you might be able to help them out in some way.

Follow up afterwards

Finally, once you start meeting new people, follow up in some form. Whether it’s simply sending a request on LinkedIn or you decide you want to get coffee or lunch with someone, follow up within a few days. Networking events are great for the initial meeting, but you’ll need to take the initiative afterwards to further the connection.

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4 Health Benefits of Regular Exercise

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There has been extensive research done into the benefits of regular exercise on people’s health. We’ve all heard how important it is to stay active, yet it can be challenging to find time to do so. Everyone has busy schedules that get in the way of healthier habits; making regular time for the gym is one of the easiest tasks to push to the side when a more desirable activity comes up, such as going out with friends or catching up on your sleep. Maybe once you realize the many benefits exercise can have for your health, you’ll understand the importance of working out more.

Improved mood

One of the best benefits of regular exercise is that it’s a fantastic natural mood booster. If you experience a lot of stress and anxiety, exercise can help lessen those issues. It might seem counterproductive to spend time working out when you should be studying or putting in more time at work, but even half an hour at the gym helps with your mood and can leave you feeling more relaxed and focused.

Gain more energy

While intense exercise tires you out, you’ll overall feel like you have more energy. Consistent exercise can provide long term improvement in your energy levels, especially if you frequently feel tired. Even people with medical conditions that lead to fatigue have found that exercise helps their energy levels throughout the day. You do not need to spend hours exercising; simply taking a short walk can help.

Avoid weight gain

One of the main reasons people exercise, avoiding excessive weight gain is important to maintaining health. While fluctuations in weight throughout life are completely normal, putting on large amounts of weight within a short period of time or being significantly heavier than what’s ideal for your height and body type can negatively affect your health. Regular exercise helps you avoid weight gain and cuts back on the health risks that go along with an unhealthy weight.

Avoid common diseases

In general, regular exercise leads to a reduction in the risk of common diseases, such as diabetes and heart problems. While some of these risks are lowered because you’ll maintain a healthy weight through exercise, the risk for others is lowered simply because you’re active. For example, regular exercise helps your brain stay healthy and reduces your risk for diseases like dementia and regular memory loss. If you already struggle with health conditions such as high blood pressure, exercise can help reduce this problem.

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7 Professional Skills You Should Develop

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No matter what industry you work in or where your career ends up going, it’s important to work on developing your professional skills. Far too many people avoid developing professional skills until after they start working, which can negatively impact their career and the way coworkers and supervisors view them. Without developed professional skills, it can even be challenging to get a job in the first place. Here are some of the most useful professional skills you can develop that’ll help your career.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is a skill that takes time to develop and many people do not have. In any environment, being able to approach an issue critically is vitally important. There are some situations where you need to set your personal emotions aside and look impartially at the task at hand. Critical thinking is how you solve issues in business, whether with your product, services, or within the office.

Negotiation

Negotiation is an important professional skill, especially when it comes to positioning yourself to get what you deserve. When you’re up for a raise, negotiation is the skill that helps you get a great salary. You can also negotiate benefits, promotions, business deals, and plenty of other details throughout your career.

Time management

Any job requires a significant amount of time management; most people feel as though they’re overworked. However, the reason many people feel overworked is simply because they do not know how to properly manage their time. You need to become skilled at prioritizing tasks and getting them done in a timely manner in order to move on to other projects. Without time management, you’ll find it’s difficult to successfully work in many environments.

Responsibility

No one wants an irresponsible employee. You need to learn how to be responsible and display that to your supervisor. Be willing to take on additional projects or work that needs to get done. Own up to mistakes you make and stay focused on what you’re doing. Being responsible at work shows you’re a reliable employee; that opens up many more career opportunities.

Work ethic

You can have stellar professional traits, but if you lack a work ethic, you won’t thrive in your career. You’re going to come up against periods in your professional career where you don’t feel like working or feel burned out. It’s at these times that you need to tap into your work ethic and get done what needs to get done. Push through the difficult times and work hard; it’ll pay off later.

Hunger to learn

A desire to continuously learn helps you immensely throughout life. Even once you’re finished with your formal education, you need to keep finding new topics to nurture your brain. Whether it’s formal degrees or taking classes online or simply teaching yourself a new skill, any kind of continual learning helps you out.

Creativity

You might not be able to clearly teach yourself creativity, but it’s something you can practice. Surround yourself with people, experiences, and objects that inspire you. Take time to understand art and the creative aspects of your job. If you take time to try to be creative, you’ll improve your skill.

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6 Skills Organized Sports Teach You

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Sports hold many benefits for those who participate in them. You might not feel interested in sports, especially when it comes to having to compete, but even recreationally there are plenty of benefits. No matter what age you are, or if you have a young child who you think might be interested in playing a sport, here are some of the many skills that can be gained from joining a team and working toward a common goal while improving yourself in the process.

Teamwork

The most obvious skill you’ll learn from organized sports is teamwork. Even if you’re pursuing a more singular sport, such as running, if you’re working on a team, you still need to work together to push one another and meet individual (and group) goals. Even simply being able to organize a time to practice with other people leads to better teamwork. Playing a sport, such as soccer, where you’re on a team means you need to work together to win.

Focus

Sports force you to be incredibly focused, from small physical tasks you need to do to hone your skills to larger goals such as winning a championship. When you’re on the field, you cannot be distracted by other concerns. You learn to stay focused on the task at hand and do what needs to get done.

Healthy lifestyle

It’s no secret that an active lifestyle is good for you. Participating in sports helps people stay fit and often leads to better nutritional choices. You’ll learn what the best foods to eat are and what gives you the most energy. If you want to play at your best, you’ll need to get a full night’s rest. Athletes understand the importance of taking care of their bodies to avoid injury and to win their competitions.

Self discipline

As an athlete, you’ll need to learn the skill of self discipline. Participating in sports teaches you that you cannot simply eat whatever you feel like; it’ll negatively affect you the next day. When you have practices and competitions to attend, you also need to carefully plan your schedule around that. If you’re working or in school, also participating in sports means you need to priortize and plan your time carefully instead of doing whatever you want, whenever.

Communication

Many people lack communication skills, but sports help improve this skill. When you’re on a team and working with other athletes, you need to learn how to communicate with them in a clear, positive way. One of the worst issues a team can face is a lack of communication, where people begin to resent and misunderstand one another because it then affects how they play.

Leadership

A large amount of leaders were also athletes at some point in their lives. When you’re on a team, there are going to be some people who naturally help lead others and innately understand how to better your game, as an individual and as a team. Even if you do not have great leadership skills before joining an organized sport, the longer you participate, the easier it is to develop those skills.

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5 Fantastic Ways to Spend Time Outside This Fall

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Autumn is a fantastic time to get outside for a variety of fun activities. The weather is cooler and there are endless activities you can do outside. You’ll still have warmer days from the tail end of summer and many places open over the summer are still running. You get the added bonus of beautiful leaves changing color and the chance to go hiking to get a better look. Here are some ways to spend time outside this fall.

Visit an apple orchard

If someone wants to have a bushel of fresh apples, then they should visit an apple-picking orchard with their family or friends on a gorgeous Saturday morning. It is a good idea to layer clothing for the day because everyone will need to climb ladders to pick the apples from trees, which can be a fairly big workout! Whether you want to eat the apples or use them to make other food, you’ll definitely find a use for them.

Celebrate football games

Football is the most popular sport during autumn and one of the best ways to celebrate the sport is to have a party with your friends to watch a big game. You can also tailgate a game in person; whatever works best for you. Prepare food ahead of time and delegate responsibilities to everyone who’s coming. Have paper plates and plastic utensils to serve everyone after the football game ends.

Go on a hayride

Look for a farm that offers hayrides on wagons pulled by horses. This autumn activity requires riding on the loose hay or hay bales that are in the wagon, so make sure to wear rugged clothing for the excursion. The hayride may include seeing the other animals on a farm such as the cows, chickens, or pigs, making it a learning experience for children. You can also find plenty of Halloween attractions with haunted hayrides!

Enjoy a camping trip

Autumn is the perfect time for a camping trip in the woods to enjoy the changing color of the leaves. Make sure to have high-quality sleeping bags and tents to cope with the cooler weather conditions. Bring along a camping stove so that it is easy to cook tasty foods such as roasted hot dogs and grilled hamburgers. If you want to go camping for a few days, make sure that you have all the supplies necessary.

Visit a pumpkin patch

Visiting a pumpkin patch in the autumn is one of the best family activities so that children (and adults) can make unique jack-o’-lanterns. Make sure that everyone bundles up in flannel shirts and sturdy jeans to walk through the patch while looking for a bright orange pumpkin that’s perfect to carve or simply set out for decoration.

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4 Benefits of Taking a Fitness Class

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No matter your level of interest in fitness, there are plenty of reasons to take a fitness class. There is going to be a class out there that fits your fitness level and what you’re interested in, so take time to look at some of your options and find what works for you. It’s also not a bad idea to try out different classes before settling on one that works the best for you. Here are some of the many benefits of taking a fitness class.

Learn new exercise methods

If you want to learn more about a particular type of exercise, joining a fitness class is a great way to learn about yoga, lifting weights, or boxing. In addition to learning from the teacher, a fitness class gives you the chance to learn from other people. The instructor walks around the classroom to help students use the correct positions or movements for a particular type of exercise and is useful for learning the correct way to do a specific exercise.

Stick to a scheduled time

If you find it difficult to stick to a regular exercise routine, paying for a fitness class is usually a better incentive to make sure you regularly exercise and arrive on time so you don’t waste your money. Joining fitness classes that occur two or three times a week can help you meet your fitness goals, such as losing weight and gaining muscle tone. Look at various exercise classes and the times they’re offered to find what best fits your individual schedule.

Better structure for fitness

Trainers structure their exercise classes carefully so that that the students engage in a warmup routine before beginning the major portion of the class. As the class is ending, the teacher also has a cool-down so that the students don’t experience risk fitness injuries. This type of class structuring can help you understand how to create your own exercise routine once you’re done with the class.

Make new connections

Socializing during a fitness class offers benefits for your mental and physical health. You’ll have friendly competitions with each other in your fitness class to determine who does the best in reaching their goals. This type of camaraderie can lead to having lifelong friendships with other individuals who want to remain physically fit. These connections can also provide perfect companions for when you want to do a regular workout outside of class. Find people to hold you accountable and you can work out with in addition to your fitness class.

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How to Learn as Much as Possible While in Grad School

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Grad school can easily be the most intense experience most students face. A far cry from the course load of undergrad, graduate school often takes current students and prospective students by surprise with its challenges. Even if you went to a rigorous undergraduate college, grad school is completely different and very focused on your specific area of study.

Some grad students are often too overwhelmed to take full advantage of their grad school experience. However, students with the right mindset and study strategies will find grad school to be more rewarding than they ever thought possible. Read on for four ways to learn as much as possible as a grad student and make this time in your life just a bit less stressful.

Know your strengths

The first step to getting more done when in grad school is to know your strengths when it comes to productivity. Students that are well aware of their studying habits and schedules are better prepared to succeed in grad school. By identifying a schedule and pattern for when you’re at your most productive, you’ll be able to stay on top of your school work as easily as possible.

Focus on reading smarter

While many students in grad school attempt to read as much as possible, this method isn’t always an efficient way to study. Instead, students should try to read smarter by focusing on reading with a purpose in mind. This goal requires students to actively internalize the material they are reading rather than simply speeding through it. Moreover, when reading for a specific reason, such as for a research for a paper, if the material is irrelevant, it is inefficient to keep reading.

Make grad school about learning

Grades are important but aren’t a significant factor in the long run. While grades are what help a student get accepted into a particular program, once they are in grad school, they must shift their thinking to focus on learning. When pursuing your profession outside of grad school, the knowledge you have learned is what truly matters.

Choose opportunities wisely

Many grad students find themselves overwhelmed because they load their schedule with too much. Instead of trying to do everything, focus on specializing in a specific area. In grad school, it is especially important for students to truly zero-in on one thing that they want to focus on in their professional lives.

Getting through grad school requires a well thought out strategy. Take these suggestions into consideration when searching for balance while navigating grad school.

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