Why Avoiding Your Boss Is a Terrible Career Move

Jul 23, 2015 -
When you think about networking, you probably picture happy hours, meetups, and conferences -- but did you know there’s a powerful networking opportunity right under your nose? It’s inside your own office. Networking at work could help you go further in your career, if you’re talking to the right people. Over at Business Insider, Rachel Sugar says, “If you’re not dropping by your boss’s office to chat, you’re missing out on a major career opportunity.”

How to network with your own boss

To learn why you should talk to your boss -- and what you should talk about -- Sugar spoke with Karen Licitra, Corporate Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy at Johnson & Johnson. Licitra admits this type of office schmoozing isn’t intuitive -- especially for women. The idea only came to her after she witnessed male colleagues going in and out of her boss’s office. Eventually, she asked her husband (who worked with her) what they talked about. His response? “Well, nothing — I'm just kinda asking him what he thinks about stuff.” What he thinks about stuff? For many of us, the thought of going into our boss’s office without a clear agenda sounds like career suicide. But as Liticus points out, everyone likes to feel needed. "When you can engage your boss in what you're thinking about, they feel like they're more part of the team, that they're helping you," she says. "And that's a great way to build trust and relationships." And as we all know, relationships are key to career success. If you’re eager to try this strategy, here are our tips for how to talk with your boss -- and start earning those networking points.

Avoid scheduling your meeting at the beginning or end of the day

In the early morning, your boss is trying to get their most important tasks completed, and at the end of the day, he’s just like everyone else: itching to get out of there. So try scheduling your drop-in for sometime before or after lunch. (If you meet just before lunch -- who knows? He might invite you to continue the conversation!)

Keep the meeting under 30 minutes

Your boss is busy. Acknowledge that fact by keeping your meeting fairly short -- preferably around the 20-minute mark. You don’t want your boss to dread seeing you because she knows it’s going to take an hour out of her day.

Address common interests outside of work

Finally, all that SportsCenter can come in handy; it gives you common ground to bond over. If sports aren’t your thing (or your boss’s), bring up other common interests. Chatting about new climbing spots is more fun than discussing work -- and helps you stick out in a sea of other coworkers.

Listen more than you speak

Though this is good advice in every social situation, it’s especially important when interacting with your superiors. Asking a lot of questions makes your boss feel smart and important, which automatically makes them like you more. You could ask about their career path or vision for the company. Or, you could ask for advice on a work issue you’re dealing with -- what they would do in your shoes? Do you chat with your boss? What about? Susan Shain (@Susan_Shain) is a freelance writer and travel blogger who is always seeking adventure.