Guest post by Jodi Kaplan. Visit her blog at Fix Your Broken Marketing.
When I was back in the corporate world, my job required me to work with people all across the company. I was in marketing, but had to rely on people from graphics, events, product development, membership (for a non-profit), and IT to get my job done.
In one case, I had a brand-new position, so there was no guide to show me the ropes. Since I couldn’t ask for help, I came up with an “evil” plan.
I had a two-part plan. The first part: bribery. I put a big bowl of candy on my desk. After a few days, I had lots of new friends. People would also stop and chat, so I got all the latest news and project updates.
Let’s Do Lunch
Part two of my plan was sitting down for lunch. I’d go into the company lunchroom and sit close to people outside my department. Occasionally, they’d ask me a question or I’d chime in. I gradually built up a friendly relationship, and we started eating lunch together and having real conversations.
We were technically all isolated in our own different corporate silos – reporting to different people with different lines of command. In some cases, we really weren’t intended to have anything to do with each other.
However, when you have lunch with people over weeks and months, regardless of whether you’re talking about food, TV, or company goings-on, you start to bond.
You also start to learn things you’d have never known about otherwise – what bothers them, what problems they’re having doing their jobs, how you can make their jobs easier, and how they can help you.
For instance, I found out that graphics would rather have plain text files instead of heavily formatted Word files. Or, that it’s easier if you mark where you want headlines or photos to be inserted.
These cross-departmental connections also came in very handy during reorganizations, since people from other departments already knew and liked me. In fact, some of them are still my friends.
So, next time you don’t have plans, ask someone from IT or accounting to lunch. Or, go sit at a different table. You might learn something. You might even make a friend.