I recently shared some advice with a mentee working on developing office relationships, and I wanted to share with you guys too in case anyone was working on the same challenge.
Q: In an effort to build stronger relationships in the office, my goal this month is to invite six coworkers out to lunch to get to know them better. I’m not really sure how I would go about doing this. What advice do you have for asking colleagues out to lunch?
A: First, keep it simple. Don’t overthink the process. You’ll get in your own head and make it seem like it is a bigger obstacle than it is.
If you see a group going out or hear a group talking about doing lunch, ask if you can join. This may be less intimidating and this debunks the thought of you feeling like you’re being a burden. Unless I’m discussing something private, I always have the thought process of “the more the merrier” for out of office lunches with my colleagues.
If you don’t have someone specific and/or don’t want to make it a one-on-one lunch, send out a group email. Think of a group of 3-5 people that associate with each other (i.e. same department/team or some people you always see together) and send a group email to them. Ask if anyone would like to grab lunch sometime this week.
Be honest and vulnerable. The fear you have of asking people is a really natural feeling. I love going with a vulnerable approach, it makes you really relatable and people will make time for you because of that. Tell them you’re working on building relationships with your colleagues and one of your goals is to ask someone new to lunch once a week. This will be good because any good colleagues will rally around you and help you out with your next introduction, and share some great advice at lunch. People inherently like helping people but they don’t know how if you don’t ask. Give them the opportunity.
If you need some ideas on developing relationships in the office, check out my blog I wrote about 6 Ways to Build More Meaningful Work Relationships.