Do you have to Drink, Schmooze or Talk Sports to Network?
Introverts are often faced with issues, when it comes to developing relationships with their co-workers, which often cause them to feel they are compromising their values. It feels like a real dilemma, because to some degree it would be fun to occasionally be included with a group from work for some after-hours bonding.
The dilemma causes most Introverts to be seriously grumpy.
Is this you?
I totally know how you feel. I have faced the same issues. I don’t drink and I seriously dislike listening to sports much less talk about sports. (I use sports news as my benchmark at night to turn off the TV). Schmoozing I can do but prefer more substantial interactions. Here’s what I have discovered:
If drinking wine or any alcohol isn’t what you do, you don’t need to start now just to spend time with your co-workers. On the other hand, you don’t need to miss every after-work gathering just because they are and you aren’t. You’re missing out on an opportunity to simply spend time getting to know others better and in a different setting. The important part of the activity is the socializing, not the drinking and when you don’t join in, you are choosing to stay an outsider.
Drinking with co-workers.
Sure, some people can get intense about how much they drink and how long they stay at some of these functions. You need to have your boundaries clearly established for yourself in terms of these issues. It doesn’t matter if someone is drinking or not, you don’t need to hang out with people who get out of control for any reason. It also doesn’t mean that once you join into an event you have to stay there until the bitter end. As an introvert, it may be tough to simply go and be around so many people but it is also the thing that you can prepare for in advance by defining how long you will participate. Keep in mind that reinforcing relationships is more about quality, not quantity.
One of the things I have witnessed with other Introverts in these situations is a bad attitude. The common attitude is “I shouldn’t have to drink with the boss or _______ just to get ahead at work.” True, you shouldn’t have to but you are also missing the point. The point is not the drinking (or watching sports or whatever you don’t like to do) it’s about developing the relationship. If you fail to develop relationships with your co-workers, you are failing yourself and career. While you can develop your relationship during work hours, you have to understand that for some people, that doesn’t work for them. Others need to spend time in non-work situations in order to be comfortable and relaxed enough to get the most out of it. We don’t all do the same things the same way, including nurturing relationships.
You can take it upon yourself to suggest something you’d prefer doing after work. You can take an informal poll to find out other things your co-workers would prefer. It can range from bowling, dining or hitting a coffee shop. Keep in mind that just like going to a bar, not everyone will join in anyway. The main thing is that you are taking some leadership on relationship development.
If you are sitting there right now also opposing the idea of developing relationships with your co-workers, you are putting your career in peril. Studies show that 80% of what will factor into your career success is how well you interact with the people you work with. That’s too huge to ignore.
It is all about relationships.
Your next career opportunity, job, promotion, cool project or resource will only come with or through another person. Keep that in mind the next time the group at work wants to do something. Join in and get to know them at a different level.
Brought to you by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – dedicated to unleash your professional potential.