Even if you're the shyest or most introverted person in the world, you're probably already networking, without even knowing it. That's because "networking" is a terrible word for a thing most of us do anyway: build relationships. The goal is to maximize what you're already doing, plus look for additional opportunities that fit with your personality and lifestyle – in other words, to network painlessly, in a way that will build your career and not drive you crazy.
When we were in school, guidance counselors checked in with us to see how we were progressing. As adults, well, let's just say we could go a long time without thinking about whether we're still headed in the right direction. This week's roundup looks at a simple quiz to help workers be their own guidance counselors. Plus: how to kill collaboration, not that you'd want to, and how to work with those co-workers you wish would find another job.
One of the toughest parts of transitioning from being a full-time student to a working professional is the lack of framework. All of a sudden, there are no tests, no grades, no clearly defined projects with a beginning, middle, and end. Success is harder to define, and while the sky's the limit, the goal posts can seem to toward the horizon with every step you take. The good news? While your working hours belong to the company, your career belongs only to you.
Meetings are a mystery. Everyone claims to hate them, and yet they proliferate on our calendars like Tribbles on Star Trek. The explanations for why that happens are many and varied, including different goals for management and staff, ineffective communication techniques, and just plain old ego. (If you've ever had a boss who loved to hear himself talk, you're familiar with this issue.) Here's how to keep meetings short and get back your time.
Hard skills will help you get the job, but if you want to keep it (and excel) you need soft skills as well. Knowing how to communicate effectively, rebound from a setback, and express commitment to your work will impress the boss, your co-workers, and your company's clients – all of which will make it easier to show off what you can do.
Chances are, by the time you start your first "real" job, you've had bosses before. But what was appropriate at the ice cream stand or landscaping gig might not be OK in your new office environment. Even if you've had tons of internships and lots of practice dealing with corporate culture, expect a learning curve when you begin your first professional job. Every company and manager is different. If you want to be a success, you'll need to learn how to adapt and communicate with your particular boss.
When we were kids, the rules of the playground were simple: don't snitch, unless you or someone else was in serious danger. As adults, it's slightly more complicated. For example, what if – like an Ask a Manager reader – you know that your colleague is planning to take paid maternity leave, and then quit? Alison Green's answer to that question, plus Dan Erwin's latest reading list, and Emmelie De La Cruz's tutorial on personal branding, in this week's roundup.