The fundamental techniques that drive your success never change. Think about how many free throws Michael Jordan must have practiced, or how many jabs Mike Tyson threw. Top athletes like them never stop practicing their basic building blocks even after rising to the top of the professional ranks. So why do people believe leaders at different levels need to focus and develop different core skills?
Sometimes the last thing you want to do after a long day is spend more time with coworkers. Your idea of going to an “after work event” involves your couch and definitely not a suit. But our current environment makes it all too easy to get disconnected from our peers. Whether we telecommute, work in decentralized locations, or are just incredibly busy, we often go far too long without face to face interactions. So while it’s more than acceptable to miss a few of those events, make an effort to not miss them all.
The internet will never replace in-person
There is something to be said about getting together face to face. There is something there that can never be replicated by social media no matter how many tweets we post or photos we add to Instagram. This is not to denounce social media or the value of it (this is a blog after all), but it is to say we must realize that social media and virtual realities can’t reproduce the connections and interactions that are forged when we get together in person. In my casual surveys of our ‘virtual’ consultants on how best to engage, given most are millennials, I often expect a podcast or twitter session. However, the most common answer is an in-person get together.
Out of sight, out of mind
As Woody Allen said, “80% of success is showing up.” Often we work from necessity: “This needs to be done now, who here can help?” But opportunities arise for those who realize it’s not just about the right timing, but the right place too. I frequently tell our consultants who are waiting for their next project to come to the office. When we host brown bag lunches or celebration dinners, I always encourage employees to attend in person and introduce themselves to someone they’ve never met. I tell them this, not because they can’t do their work from home or to make them uncomfortable, but because, more often than not, their potential next Project Manager or the person who will help them solve their latest problem is there too. That simple act of seeing someone and shaking their hand puts them at the front of our mind in a way that no email or resume can – no matter how amazing it is.
People make it all worthwhile
It’s easy to make work all about work and it’s just as easy to get burnt out from doing so. Ask anyone who stays with their organization why they do it and nine out of ten times the answer will be, “the people.” When we spend time with our coworkers, we commiserate over challenges, we collaborate on solutions, and we connect over a shared purpose. Camaraderie is not something that can be manufactured; it’s built through the moments we share. We develop relationships with people through our time spent together, over lunches and at conferences and potluck dinners, not through teleconferences and LinkedIn. It is those relationships that bond us to our organizations and lead us to stay day after day.
So go to that work event, the brown bag lunch, the town hall. Don’t miss those in-person interactions that have become all too rare today and yet that we often pass off as just another thing to do. Whether you are looking for your next opportunity or just need a reminder of what it means to be a team, there is no real substitute for getting together, putting the technology down, and talking face to face. It was a New Year’s resolution for me to do just the same. I, too, am working to go to more events outside of my normal network. Sometimes it’s tiring, not being home at night during the week, but the importance of connecting, networking, and just having casual connections is an important part of our self, our career and our ability to grow.