Co-workers: Keeping Up Appearances


Scenario 1: You completed the internship. For 90 days (twelve working weeks and six Saturdays) you gave this company your blood, sweat, no tears but delightfully decorated homemade cupcakes every Tuesday. It has transpired that this was an ad hoc internship with an expiration date.  All internship requirements satisfied and several expectations exceeded “the company is currently not hiring,” yet, there are three potential interns lingering in the reception.

Scenario 2: Your contract is coming to an end. You have worked diligently and have been awarded accordingly. Your office workload is strikingly similar to that of the faithful stapler on your desk – stable, reliable, monotonous. You believe that you can still achieve professional fulfilment; you amicably depart and award yourself with the career carte blanche as you enthusiastically commence the C.V circuit.

Scenario 3: You have decided to neglect the principal and embrace your principles. Salary has become irrelevant as you make a conscious decision to preserve your sanity. You feel restricted, overlooked and targeted by unprofessional management and it is beginning to affect your confidence. You leave the job. However, ever since the photocopying incident at the office Christmas party, your team has been bound by a real sense of camaraderie which will be sadly missed.

It has been citied that in the 21st Century individuals can expect to hold an average of seven careers in a lifetime. Whatever you’re current career situation, it is important to realise that co-workers are the back-bone for both career fulfilment and career advancement. So with the impending prospect of multiple careers, it is imperative to consider a long-term co-worker interaction strategy.

Graduating from the “friend vs. colleague debate” we may have to consider a new title for the past, present or potential co-worker, not really a friend, person in your life: “a work-mate.” The word “mate” can instantly elevate the office working relationship when reminiscent of amicable affiliations like team-mate, soul-mate or room-mate (concentrating on positive “mate” experiences of course!) to a relationship worthy of scheduled attention, respect and courtesy. The concept “work-mate” also helps bridge the “friend vs. colleague” gap when shifting between jobs.

When naturally left to our previous thought patterns or actions, we could all be perpetrators of the “out of sight, out of mind” communication violation. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s very 2012 to aspire to retrain the brain – Contigo, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am).

Here are a few suggestions to help you get started on building your powerful work-mate network:


This may seem like an elementary step but memory

 can fade, phones can disappear and computers can die, consequently, important contact details can get lost. Ensure that you have fool-proof, fire-proof method of recording career related contacts. For some, it is a handwritten address book or rolodex. For me, I put important information in the cloud. Evernote ( is my cloud of choice. It is a digital note-taking device with a coherent interface, instant web clipper and most importantly you can instantly sync your documents so that they are retrievable from your account from all major operating system platforms – Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Chrome OS, Android, iOS and WebOS at all times.


Not only is the objective to build a strong network of work-mates but, also, to build a strong career network in which to network. Go beyond a cup of coffee and look for ways to include previous or current work-mates in work-related events like press events, workshops, fashion shows, award ceremonies. If you think an event would interest or be of benefit to them, extend the invite in the hope that your networking invite will be reciprocated. (If after two attempts it becomes evident that this is a one-sided network-sharing relationship, end the affair but keep the contact details just in case!)


The Daily Muse suggests:

When you come across articles about industry trends or an issue a former colleague worked on, shoot over an email with a quick note saying “thought this may be of interest.” Think something to the effect of: “Just saw you updated the company’s Facebook page to the Timeline, and thought of you when I read this Mashable article.” Remember to balance the relevance and usefulness of the article with your desire to stay in touch. Timing-wise, aim to send something quarterly-shooting over articles weekly may come off as a nuisance, whereas sending them once a year may seem like an afterthought. Though, keep in mind it may be difficult to follow an exact timeline. Two excellent articles may come out in April, and you might not see anything worth sending in June, July, or August.


If you’re main objective is to impress or make a lasting impression, get out the calendar and take a personalised approach. Consider sending a handwritten note to previous bosses and work mates. These sentiments could fall under holiday greeting cards, key life personal life events –new contact info, new business card, graduating from a postgrad, or major life professional events –invite to an event you have organised, etc. Alternatively, if you hear of career-related news that is worthy of congratulations, send a card conveying your best wishes accordingly. Again timing is key here – an annual or bi-annual written note is sufficient and also easier to maintain into the future.


Most importantly, for all matters career related –invest time in your LinkedIn profile. HR   managers are now focusing their efforts on finding future talent and potential employees on LinkedIn. If you are not going to make a committed effort in creating a current LinkedIn profile, remove it, as an out-dated profile could cause you more harm than good. Be aware that LinkedIn has the potential and social following to eliminate the role of the traditional CV. And most importantly, if you have good relationships with former employees, ask them for a written recommendation for your LinkedIn profile- your employment bona fides could realign your career destiny!

Social Jumpstart created this great infographic to show just how much happens on the social web in a single minute.


You may think you know exactly where your career is headed but you don’t know where your work-mates career may be able to lend a helping hand in the future. Nurture your work-mate network now and the benefits will lead to prosperity deep into your career. My granddad used to say “one of the ways to get on in life is to have people owing you a favour (that is after you have accomplished a favour for that person),” and he had three successful careers, no mobile phone, no cloud and no social media! Go forth, embrace your work-mates and create a safety net of networkers to cushion all your career landings!