Growing up, my dad always told me life was about relationships and experiences. In college it’s easy to grasp the meaning of that idea. College is all about meeting new people and having the freedom to experience life in a way that was impossible back home.
Its meaning in the workplace is less obvious. Certainly you wouldn’t spend your work time socializing and goofing off if you want to keep you job. Yet the relationships developed not only at work, but also in the professional world at large, could be some of the most important ones you have.
Previously I wrote about the importance of calling your target’s office number ahead of time to find the right contact. While this is true, having the right contact doesn’t mean your target will listen to you. As an aspiring PR practitioner, I sometimes find reporters are reluctant, if not unwilling, to listen to what I have to say. And it’s not because I’m an intern.
My supervisor told me it’s a common problem for people in our field. Her advice to help remedy the divide is to develop working, professional relationships with contacts with relevant interests. For me, that might be a reporter who covers a beat related to my client’s objectives. Instead of flooding these contacts with information I’m promoting, sometimes send a news story their way about a topic of interest. Maybe ask them out for coffee and talk business with them. In other words, she recommends I do more than ask what others can do for me.
The same applies in the workplace. Of course, socializing when you have work to do is never a good idea. But being recognized by your peers for you work can go a long way. Developing relationships in the professional world, being recognized as more than an annoying twenty-something, can not only make work easier but might even land you a job in the future.
Sometimes it’s not about what you know. It’s not even about whom you know. It’s about who knows you.