Don’t Forget to Network With Junior Co-Workers

Most professionals know they should strengthen relationships with senior managers, but they often don’t spend enough time cultivating friendships with same-level colleagues, or even those junior to them. If your associate in the next cubicle has become one of your best friends, you will happily spend time with her, but how about that quiet guy who is tough to talk to? Or your junior colleague?

In the office, it’s easy to hang with the people who fit in with you socially, but it’s worth the effort to get to know others as well. Your colleagues will appreciate your attempts to be friendly, especially those outside your normal niche. Their opinion, no matter how junior they are now, could have a bearing on your career.

I learned this lesson when I interviewed for a job I thought would be a great fit for me. While I interviewed with the prospective hirer, he saw where I had worked previously and said “Oh, you must know Blah, Blah, Blah.” And I said, “Of course, I worked with Blah, Blah, Blah. Smart guy …” so the interview went on. We subsequently had a great conversation and I assumed I nailed the interview. But I found out the following week from a friend at the hiring firm, that I was blackballed by Blah, Blah, Blah. This ex-colleague of mine was junior to me. He had a reputation for working well with senior colleagues but treating everyone under him, especially the support staff, like crap. After giving him a few warnings about his behavior, I met with him to tell him his incentive compensation was going to decline because of his treatment of some of the office personnel. He was furious. He was also happy to settle the score later.

This story shows how influential even junior colleagues can be. Not that I would have changed my previous management of Blah, Blah, Blah. But it did open my eyes to the power that each person holds in the office, even those junior to me.