The Introvert's Guide to Office Networking

August 16, 2018

Next week I'm starting a new job. The first day at a new job feels like the first day of school to me. I have many of the same questions.

  • When am I supposed to be there?
  • Will someone sit with me at lunch?
  • Will I spill something on my shirt?
  • Where is the bathroom?

A key to surviving my first day is to allow myself to not know everything. I will need to ask and that is okay! It is expected! I am new.

Introduction and Question Template

You may feel weird asking where simple things are, that is okay, you are new. I use the following template when asking questions.

  • "Hi! I'm Jenn, and I'm new. Do you know where the extra office supplies are?"
  • "Hi! I'm new. Can you tell me where the bathroom is?"

This format is the same as the one Inigo Montoya uses in the Princess Bride.

Tips for Office Networking

I use five simple rules to help guide me when networking at work. These help me feel more effective and less like I am a cog.

  1. When possible, eat lunch in the lunchroom or with coworkers. This way you can get to know your coworkers and maybe find some great recipes or restaurants.
  2. Befriend the office administrator and the janitorial staff. They know where the good supplies are and can help get you get boxes. Learn their names and thank them often.
  3. Introduce yourself to your neighbor at large meetings. Don't just network with your own team or office. Try to learn one new person's name a quarter.
  4. Decorate your desk. A picture, plant, or figurine can tell others about your interests. This is like your desk is wearing a conversation piece.
  5. Have a bowl of candy or small toys. This is an easy way to get people to come to your desk. People like candy and little trinkets. Being that I have food allergies, I have a bowl of erasers, stickers, and small plastic frogs for people to grab from.

In addition to these, I also use the tips from my conference guide.

Over the years, I have had several different careers and I have used these tips in all of them. They have helped me in factory, office, and laboratory settings.

Remember to be kind to yourself when starting a new position, no one knows everything on the first day.