It’s your first week of work on a six month assignment. You know you’ll be gone in six months, and the full-time employees likely know you’ll be gone in six months, too. So, while you smile at each other in the hallway and ask about each other’s weekend plans, there’s generally no effort to build any genuine relationships.
But even though forging connections with people you’ll no longer see in half a year may seem pointless, it’s actually one of the best things you can do for your career.
First, you’ll be demonstrating you’re a great cultural fit. Second, you’ll get to know people who can answer your questions or direct you to resources, if you ever need help. Third, you’ll feel more invested in the company, which will naturally lead to better work. Fourth, expanding your network is always a good thing—as long as you’re doing it in a real way.
Convinced? Here are four ways to make lasting connections at your next position.
1. Participate in Office Traditions
Does the company throw a weekly social event? Make sure you’re one of the first people to arrive. Does the company hold monthly “volunteer days” for employees to help out in the local community? Put your name on the list. Does the company have a fiercely competitive ping-pong tournament? Grab a paddle.
By joining in on whatever unique traditions the office has, you’ll get the opportunity to meet people from every department. Plus, management will see first-hand how well your personality meshes with the group.
2. Seek Out Clubs
Most companies have a couple small groups for outside interests, like a book club, photography club, or a running club. You might not be a reader, a photography buff, or a cardio enthusiast, but even if these clubs don’t fit your interests, you should show up anyway. Your co-workers will be surprised and gratified you’ve made the effort to attend. As a result, they’re more likely to seek your friendship.
Finding these groups can take a little creativity. During your on-boarding, ask if there are any clubs. When you’re introduced to new people, say, “Hey, are there any fun office groups I should know about?” Company Facebook pages and internal messaging systems are also a great resource.
3. Make Your Workspace Inviting
Rather than slapping up one picture of your family and calling it a day, bring some conversation-provoking decorations into your workspace—you want to give people passing by something to ask about or comment on.
For example, maybe you’ve got some cool travel souvenirs from your last trip to South America. Arrange them so they’re visible to people passing by. When people ask you where you got them, you can talk about your travels and then ask them where they’ve been.
Of course, this requires you to keep your door open as much as possible—and to smile and be friendly to your co-workers as they walk by.
4. Add People on LinkedIn
As soon as you’re introduced to new colleagues, you should request to connect with them on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to customize your invitation so they know who you are.
You might say, “Hey Mary! It was great meeting you today. I’d love to grab coffee sometime and learn more about your efforts with the training and development team.”
Not only does this give you the chance to ask them out to coffee or lunch (another great way to build connections!) but it also shows you’re invested in a long-term relationship. And once you’ve connected with them on LinkedIn, you’ll see all their career updates, giving you plenty of reasons to send an email or ask to catch up. (“Hi Mary, Congrats on your recent promotion to national sales manager! If you’ve got time, I’ll be in your area next week—let’s get lunch so you can tell me about what you’ll be doing.”)