by Mike O’Mary
This is Part One in a series of sporadic commentaries on how to get ahead at the office. These tips may not directly apply to your career as a freelancer, but if you have corporate clients, it’s important to understand life on the inside.
The most important thing to keep in mind as you attempt to work your way up the corporate ladder is that it is very important to attend as many meetings as possible. Attending meetings serves the dual-purpose of allowing you to network while also preventing you from having to do any actual work. What better excuse for being unable to assist with the latest corporate crisis than to say, “I’d love to help, but I’m tied up in meetings all day.”
So let’s say you want to attend more meetings, but maybe you’re a new employee. How do you work your way in to the inner circle?
One of my favorite strategies has been to be conveniently passing by a conference room with cup of coffee and notepad in hand just as people are beginning to congregate for a meeting. If you happen to know a meeting participant, stop and chat. If you don’t know any of the participants, just walk up to a stranger, introduce yourself and ask, “What’s up?” Nod with interest and prolong the chitchat until the meeting organizer says, “Let’s get started.” The key here is not to leave unless somebody specifically tells you to. If you prefer a more direct approach, look the meeting organizer in the eye and say, loud enough for all to hear, “Do you want me to leave?”
Occasionally, you’ll encounter a seasoned veteran who will stare right back at you and say, “Yes. Get out. Now.” But more often than not, the person will avert your intent, preferably slightly maniacal, gaze and mumble, “No. Why don’t you stay?” They might even apologize for not inviting you in the first place. Next thing you know, you’re drinking free coffee, eating donuts and doodling on your notepad. You’ve taken your first step into the inner circle.
Tune in next week for Part Two of this series and learn how to get noticed once you’re inside the meeting room.
Mike O’Mary is founding dreamer of Dream of Things, an independent book publisher currently accepting creative nonfiction stories for anthologies on 15 topics, including an anthology titled “Cubicle Stories: Life in the Modern Workplace.”