Something I learned very early on in my working career, not so much from my experiences but from observing the results of others, was to engage at a social level as early possible. This doesn’t mean you have to take time after 5:00 to get to know someone, the best opportunity exists every single day during what you would already do, lunch! Everyone usually takes a break and eats lunch during the day, usually there’s two groups in an office. Those that always go out, and those that bring their lunch or meet others for lunch or maybe even work through it. If you notice those in the first group in your office my guess it’s usually easier for them to get things done, they’re normally a little more in touch with things that are going on. Especially if you can manage to branch out a little and go outside of the people you work with every moment of the day.
It’s generally one thing when you come to work and do you’re job. But no matter how large or small the company you can’t entirely separate the work from the personal, and personalities come out and it becomes some form of factor. Yes, most people are professional, but at the end of the day you’re more likely to help someone that you like even if you’re busy, than someone you don’t. Maybe you have a 50-50 chance of being liked, but I’d say by being disliked you’re not going to get help any slower really.
I know there’s a few people reading this and thinking, this is fine, but I don’t really want to spend money on eating out every day. In my experience the extra knowledge you gain is well worth the price. When you through an executive level person, a developer, a sales guy, a marketing person, and some middle management into a single lunch outing, all come away with a lot of insight into area’s of the business they had little exposure to. This come’s back to my post about leaders and developers, if the people in your business only understand what they do and nothing outside you’re as a whole going to be less effective. Most people in your company don’t think this way, by doing it you’ll become more effective than the average person.
And to think, it all starts with something as simple as going out to lunch. It’s the reason that from day 1, to being a veteran in a company, when someone asks “Do you have plans for lunch?” 90% of the time my answer is “No, when do you want to go?”