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Cutting out social time at work can hurt your career

It takes more than just doing your job to get ahead

by Robyn Roark  |  5766 views  |  4 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Be visible. If you work in an office, take the "long way" back to your desk. You don't have to spend 30 minutes at the water cooler. Stop and chat with one person for a few minutes a day. If you work remotely, make sure that you are online and available. Use instant messenger to communicate with your team. Oh, and if you happen to get into work at 6 a.m. or stay until midnight, subtly make sure that the team (and your boss) finds out. Don't loudly announce it in a meeting; just send an email out, the time stamp will show when you did it.

Investing in your social capital does not mean making friends. In other words, work is not an opportunity to find a new BFF. Among the things to keep to yourself are: details of an illness, details of your arguments with your spouse, details of your financial problems, details of your vacation, details of your monthly cycles, details of romantic conquests, and involvement with what your child is selling from school. Whatever you share will be included in your reputation -- whether it's work related or not. So keep the details to yourself. Or share it with your true BFF. After all, you were hired to work, not to use your boss as a free therapist.

Get a mentor. I think a lot of women are afraid of having a mentor -- or, at least, of asking someone to be a mentor. But it is a great way to build up your network and utilize someone who has the knowledge/skills/resources/attitude that you need to get yourself to the next step. Find an expert in your field, in a position that you one day want to occupy, or someone in another field that you want to break into. Mentors can help you mold yourself into more successful you.

It is naive to think that all that matters in your career is your work performance. In fact, it’s harmful to operate accordingly. So ditch the illusion. The office is a place where perception can be as important as results. The quicker you act accordingly, the sooner you’ll see success.

About the Author

BirdieRoark works as a Sr. Program Manager at a Fortune 15 company. During the day, she bosses around men that are old enough to be her father. At home, she gets bossed around by a three year old boy

Read more by Robyn Roark

4 comments so far...

  • This is definitely one of the things I am NOT good at, and need to learn - thanks for a great article!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Florinda Pendley Vasquez on 2nd April 2008

  • So true. I see this at my day job a lot. Great article. Thanks for sharing your expertisel.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Ashley Ladd on 1st April 2008

  • Thanks for the mention! Look at you, all how-to-ing it. Love it. Very good tips, all.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Susan Wenner Jackson on 31st March 2008

  • I totally agree with this -- one of the first things I did when my daughter was born was stop going to networking lunches and dinners. I think it made it tougher for me to be successful at what I was doing and after a while, I started making lunch plans again (dinners still no because that was the only time I'd see my daughter). People often tend to think about networking as something you do outside of your company/organization, but I think it's also something to consistently do internally.

    Great advice!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Nataly on 28th March 2008