Taking Your Work Friends to New Places
By Nichelle Downing
There are work friends, and then there are personal friends. To succeed in today’s market, you need to take a portion of the “work friend” into your personal space. But how do you do that and still stay somewhat professional? You don’t want your crazy relatives to be seen or your own pick-your- nose-no-make-up days to be exposed, so what do you do? Invest in the relationship, but do it in a way that leaves the bulk of your outside-of-work-life still personal.
Find a Common Thread.
Meet on Common Ground.
Keep the connection on a like-mindedness level.
- Start with lunch – not the team lunches but the one-on-one lunch. No work talk at this one. Talk about books, movies, clothes, even grocery shopping. Maybe exercise. Keep hitting topics until you get two that really connect you. Yes, it must be two. Note: The off-limit topics at work are still off limits for your new BFF – no religion or politics allowed.
- Take action on those two connections. Similar to a “play date,” find an activity that you two can do on the weekend together. Yes, the weekend (as if team lunches and happy hours don’t take enough of your time). Except for an exercise class, most after work activities with a co-worker still feel like work. Need examples? Have a mini book club and discuss what you are reading or go stand in line at a book signing and meet an author. Attend a movie premiere together, and then have a bite to eat afterwards. Even a Saturday expedition to an out of the way mall can be an adventure.
- Switch back and forth between the two areas that helped the two of you form a connection. Avoid making the new friendship stagnant (see why you needed two?). At work you can discuss work, but at lunch, you can now talk about work and other topics that interest the both of you.
How easy is that? Three simple steps! In today’s work world, the competition is fierce, and at times, feels cut throat. You can always use a friend on the inside: a friend that can travel with you from company to company; a career advisor; and someone to help bargain hunt.