A sense of community and belonging. It’s something that we all crave—hey, it’s even a level in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
But, while this concept applies everywhere, it really holds water in the workplace. After all, you spend a major chunk of your time in the office, and it’s helpful to know that you have people you can lean on and socialize with.
Even further, when your professional life makes you feel vulnerable or anxious, having that tight-knit circle of colleagues can be a huge asset and confidence boost.
But, here’s the thing: Finding your tribe at work isn’t always easy, particularly when you’re one of many employees in a huge company.
So, how can you identify and build a support system, even when you feel like you’re just a number among hundreds—or even thousands—of co-workers? Here’s how to put yourself out there and find your people.
1. Think Outside the Box
Within your company, there are undoubtedly people that you work with far more than others. You’ll collaborate more frequently with the people in your immediate department than anybody else, for example.
But that doesn’t mean that all of your close work friends need to come from that same group. There’s no rule stating that your tribe needs to be built with people who do the exact same things as you.
You shouldn’t hesitate to expand your horizons and think outside the box when seeking people to forge a bond with. Perhaps you and that person in the accounting department don’t ever have overlapping projects—but, you don’t need to have similar work in order to have similar values.
2. Join (or Start!) an Employee Resource Group
Employee Resource Groups are a great way to reach out beyond your group of immediate colleagues and find others who share your interests and passions.
If you’re unfamiliar with what these are, Employee Resource Groups are employee-led and voluntary groups that aim to foster a more inclusive and collaborative company culture. USA Today Network, for example, has these groups geared toward women, young professionals, and veterans.
When you find a group that seems like a fit for you, go ahead and attend some of the meetings, discussions, and get-togethers. Not only will you be able to meet people you align with outside of your department, but you’ll also contribute to bettering your workplace.
If your company doesn’t currently have any groups for you to join? Well, come up with one you think would be helpful, then run that idea up the flagpole to see if you can get it started.
3. Work on Cross-Departmental Projects
Another great way to reach out and meet new co-workers is to volunteer to work on cross-departmental initiatives.
Whether it’s a large project that requires the expertise of numerous departments, or it’s something more casual—like helping to plan your company’s anniversary party, for example—engaging in these sorts of opportunities offers numerous benefits.
By stepping up to the plate, you’ll be able to expand your web of connections in the office, while also challenging yourself to learn more about how other teams work.