To paraphrase Change the Ratio cofounder Rachel Sklar, visibility begets opportunity. Whether you're a rapper, painter, or president of a financial company, the more people know what you're doing, the better chance you have at serendipity smiling upon you.
In other words, to get our careers going, we need the attention.
But as Caroline McMillan notes at the Daily Muse, this growing more present at the office doesn't need to be super labor-intensive—nor does it need to be an egocentric exercise in scrumbaggery. Just as in high school—but not nearly as traumatic—it's a matter of getting involved.
Network science shows that the most successful people are usually the best connected—especially across silos and up-and-down hierarchical chains. That's part of why success stories aren't so often lone-wolf affairs, but community tales.
But if we're going to have a sense of community at work, we need to build it. So, as McMillan says, you can build around communities of interest, for instance by:
- Playing soccer (like the Fast Company office does)
- Exploring restaurants (like you're doing anyway)
- Enjoying the finer things (like Dunder Mifflin does)
To survive in the madness that is our ever-evolving workplaces, we need to get good at newbie mode—that critical stage where you're first learning a new skill. The quickest way to learn new skills is to find someone who can teach you to code, write, or manage—someone who might be around the corner of your cubicle.
Yet people are attracted to equal exchanges—psychologists call it the norm of reciprocity. So when we're picking the brain of the expert in question, we need to offer up our own skill sets. This will deepen those bonds, just like the Finer Things Club—and you'll both get better at what you do.
No matter how utopian-progressive your organization might profess to be, there will still be cliques.
These cliques are asking to be bridged—and as McMillan observes, this doesn't need to be horrendously inorganic. The intersections are already there:
Show how a project your team is working on intersects with a project or initiative another team is working on. This doesn’t have to be monumental or totally inorganic. For example, I could never suggest that the business reporters start coordinating with the advertising department’s latest campaign; we operate 100% independently (for a reason). But if my team is working on boosting our stories’ visibility on the website and getting more search-engine traffic, I could say, “You know, it’d be great to hear from one of the online team leaders about what types of stories and headlines are getting the most hits. I’ll see if one of them could spare five minutes to talk strategy sometime this week.”
These practices all look like win-win-wins: You get to make friends with people in your office, everyone gains in the tacit knowledge-sharing so central to innovation, and you get to pretend that you're in a lost episode of The Office.
Hat tip: the Daily Muse