Office Networking – How to Socialize at Work

You’re the first one in every morning. You’re on a first-name basis with the evening cleaning crew. Most days you chow down lunch at your desk while on a muted conference call. You never need to put your “out of office” on because you’re never actually out of the office. Unless you count weekends. Sometimes.

You’ve certainly got the blood and sweat part down but as the adage goes “It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know.” So, ask yourself “who do you know” besides the mailroom guy and the late night security staff? It’s just as we suspected. It’s time to leave the confines of your cubicle and meet the people around you. Before you say you’re too busy, you should know most of your peers are finding the time and it’s paying off in spades.

You know that co-worker who comes in half an hour after you. She was at a spin class. The same spin class her biggest client goes to. When they’re on their routine check-in calls, they’re still comparing their ride stats and chatting about instructors.

While you were plugging away at the office, the woman in the next cubicle was at the office book club discussing the “Lean In” revolution and getting feedback on how to ask for that promotion.

While you were scarfing down an overpriced salad over your keyboard, the guy two offices down was at a client lunch where he secured an invite to an industry event everyone’s clamoring to attend.

Work may begin with blood and sweat but ultimately it’s going to end in tears unless you get out of the office and get in the game.

It doesn’t matter the reason, just get involved!

Join an office committee, venture out to an industry get-together or simply suggest a celebratory department lunch after completing a big project. Make it a point to be front and center in people’s mind and not just because you know how to change the ink cartridge in the office printer.

Here are 5 tips as you plan your escape:

1. The early bird gets the worm and since you typically arrive early at work, this one should be a cinch. Arrive to events early or on time. People won’t be huddled together yet and it will be easier to find individuals to talk to including the host who will be swamped later on.

2. Come Prepared! Read the paper, an industry blog or scan the headlines online so you’ll have something to contribute to the conversation.

3. Share something you enjoy during off-hours.  Talk about the most recent movie you saw, exercise class you tried, trip you’re planning or mention a book you’d like to read.

4. Make appearances at office functions even if it’s only for a few minutes. Don’t skip the receptionist’s baby shower because you’re on a webinar.  Don’t bail out on your colleagues’ Bon Voyage because you’ll probably never see him again. Show you care and be a part of the team.

5. When it comes to eating and drinking, don’t overindulge. As social as these events can be, it's still business. Let someone else be the talk at the water cooler. Don’t go from Cubicle Girl to Dancing on the Table Girl. Have a drink or two but no more. Order a soft drink or a latte if that’s more your speed. If it’s not a dinner event, eat before you arrive. Don’t get caught shaking the bosses hand while attempting to swallow a pig in a blanket in one gulp.  Focus on meeting not eating! If you must eat, only select one-biters like crudité or chips. Don’t get stuck trying to daintily gnaw the chicken off the skewer while trying to have a conversation with a potential client.

Let this be the year you get noticed for all the right reasons and start thinking outside the cubicle.

Jenny Powers is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.

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