One of the most striking changes after graduation is moving from a school community to a potentially much more diverse community of co-workers. With more generations represented and co-workers from all different stages of life, building connections can be intimidating. Our hiring experts have some advice to share on building connections in this new phase of life.
Bridging The Age Gap
Ashlyn, Hiring Expert at Worthington Industries, shares, “There are a few things that you can do in order to connect with people from various generations in the workplace. The first thing to do is work hard; show those around you that you are passionate about your work and also respect the work that they're doing. Talk to them- approach the people that you work with, ask what they like to do in their spare time, see if you have anything in common. Get involved- are there teams at work that you can become a part of? This is always a great way to network with and get to know your coworkers.” More from Ashlyn
Makailyn, Hiring Expert at Textron Inc., says, “First and foremost, working hard and making yourself a valuable member of the team will start off your relationships on the right foot by gaining respect from your coworkers. I have found that asking people about their hobbies, family, or interests is an easy way to connect with them to see what we may have in common. Age differences won't seem so drastic if you are able to find commonalities or learn about what you are each interested in on a personal level. Most of all I think that respect, positivity, and engagement go a long way!” More from Makailyn
Bret, Hiring Expert at Emerson, suggests, “Connecting within your organization for social or career reasons is an important way to stay engaged in a role or a company. While it oftentimes seems daunting, simple steps can help you engage with the larger corporate community. First, take advantage of any company-sponsored events, sports activities, or volunteer opportunities. They offer immediate connections to new people and are typically not related directly to work. This allows people to begin networking socially and in regards to a neutral project or focus.
“Second, step outside your comfort zone and sit with different people at lunch every day if you can. You would be surprised at how many people are thinking the same thing you are and are just waiting for someone to make the first move in making new connections. Swallow your pride, have a bit of humility and you will see how easy it is to meet new people.
“Third, participate in Employee Resource Groups. If these are available in your organization, it will allow you to connect to people with similar interests from across the company.
Finally, talk with your manager about working on an assignment in another department or function. It will be a great opportunity for you and will also be an opportunity to meet new people.” More from Bret
Employee Resource Groups
Ashley, Hiring Expert at Cardinal Health, offers, “If your company has employee resource groups, joining one is going to be the easiest way to meet new people. Employee resource groups are typically comprised of members across all departments and include employees at all different levels of the company. Another option is to join a Toastmasters group, book club, or common interest group if your company offers any of these. Or, if your company offers any training courses, sign up for one! It could be anything from an instructor-led Excel course to a public speaking training.
“Lastly, another way to expand your network is to strike up a conversation with someone you don't know in the cafeteria or coffee shop. Don't be afraid to break out of your comfort zone and reach out to people to have a networking discussion just to learn more about their position. This is a great way to break the ice while also learning about other areas of the business.” More from Ashley
Dean, Hiring Expert at Archer Daniels Midland, suggests, “I would look to see if your company has an employee resource group that matches your background or interests. These internal organizations do a great job of bringing together coworkers and leaders across the company to network and learn more about other aspects of the business. Another way to connect is to ask your supervisor if there is an opportunity to participate in a project that stretches across business units or departments.” More from Dean
As you navigate the transitions that come with a new career, finding your place in the company community and making connections can help you feel grounded as you get used to your new role. Don’t be afraid to reach out! You’re a person worth knowing and a valuable addition to the team.