Can Hanging Out with Coworkers Help You Advance Your Career?

Can Hanging Out with Coworkers Help You Advance Your Career?

office party
Can hanging out with coworkers help you advance your career?

When thinking about how you can advance your career, hanging out with your office mates after work is probably the last thing on your priority list. But maybe it’s time to change that. 

by: Jasmine Gossett

It’s not too often that people associate the mixing of their social and professional lives with a positive outcome. In fact, I’m certain that most people intentionally keep those two spectrums as separate as possible.

Many of us wouldn’t consider Bob from Marketing or Jane from Account Services as ideal hang out buddies, but when it comes to professional advancement, it’s important to actually consider attending company happy hours and after-work outings.

I was once guilty of declining those calendar requests to attend a coworker’s going away party or a promotion celebration. I believed that there should be a strict line drawn between social and professional.  But, showing face at those gatherings can do more to help than harm.

I’m not suggesting that one should get totally uninhibited with coworkers and take all of their guards down by drinking and over sharing intimate life details, but you should show interest in the office culture by attending company functions.

A few years back, I was called into a meeting with the director of my department at my first corporate job after college. While she praised my work ethic and the quality of the projects that I completed, she also said that upper-management felt as if I didn’t want to work there. Their reason: I didn’t engage with my coworkers.

That talk left me shocked and wondering if my efforts inside the office had really been overshadowed by my unwillingness to show outside camaraderie. I was friendly to my coworkers. I joined in on small talk around the meeting table. But, once work was over, I cut my ties to the office and disconnected.

Every so often, a few of my work peers would come by my desk to see if I’d join them at an event or happy hour and I’d always find an excuse not to go. This created an undeniable wedge between us. 

They said that I came off as off-putting and it translated to them that I wasn’t enthusiastic about the company or my position. Although it wasn’t a clear correlation, it was their perception. And let’s just be honest, nobody likes that girl who seems to be “too good” and “above” being present.

Your work should be able to stand-alone, but you should also engage in the office environment so that you are not out of the loop. Employers want to feel like you are interested in the company, your work and your coworkers. This shows that you’re a team player, fully vested in your position and want to be a part of building the company community and culture.

You don’t have to attend every single office outing. You should have your own life. But, it is smart to intersect your professional and personal just a bit.

Show yourself friendly. Commit to one work function per month, even if you only go for 15 minutes to show face.

So next time you get an e-vite from Bob from Marketing inviting you and the rest of team out, be sure you’re not the only that doesn’t show up. Because when the short list is made for a department promotion, you may find yourself missing from that as well. 

Jasmine Gossett is a public relations professional based in New Orleans. Follow Jasmine on Twitter @_Jazziness.

Photos: Rachel Ray Magazine, Brazen Careerist