A few weeks ago, I found myself in the beautiful town of Sesimbra, Portugal. I was surrounded by my colleagues from MB.io offices across Germany and Portugal, and it turned out to be an exceptional experience. This event brought together over 65 developers in one picturesque location for a Frontend offsite gathering.
It was a unique opportunity to acquire new skills, gain insights into the company's ongoing projects, and establish valuable connections. Also, an eye-opening experience because, even after working with the company for some time, the sheer scale and complexity of the organization can sometimes leave us feeling like there's so much more to discover. But during these company events, the doors of opportunity swing wide open. Surprisingly, though, we often overlook this fact and miss out on the chance to expand our network and create meaningful connections.
Reflecting on my past, I realized that it wasn't always this way for me. I had attended similar company events previously, but I hadn't fully embraced the potential they offered. It took me years to understand the significance of socializing, making connections, and enjoying myself at these gatherings. This challenge isn't unique to me; many people find it hard to make the most of such events.
To address this, I've assembled a set of key insights that I'm confident can assist anyone in maximizing the value they gain from their respective company events. Here are my key takeaways:
Remember the first day you joined the company when you were a bit lost, trying to figure everything out? What did you do at that time? In my case, I reached out to a lot of people and asked numerous questions. This helped me to quickly integrate into my team and understand the company as a whole. Similarly, we can use this approach here so next time you attend an event, consider these steps:
- Approach People: Throughout the event, don't sit and wait for someone to initiate the conversation. Take charge and approach people who appear approachable. As you gain confidence, expand your circle of interactions. How can you do this? It's not difficult; simply approach someone and say hello, then take it from there.
- Ask Questions: Think back to your first week in the office when you asked questions to figure things out. Consider this event as your first day on the job, and approach each interaction with curiosity. Inquire about the person you've just met, their role in the company, and their perspective on the company's current state. Don't hesitate to ask anything; there are no wrong questions as long as they adhere to ethical and professional standards. People appreciate sharing their experiences, so don't be shy.
- Give Value: When you're an active participant in the conversation, it keeps things engaging. Share your insights, regardless of whether you're new or come from a different team or project. By contributing, you give the other person a reason to stay engaged with you.
- Don't Feel Left Out: If you're new or introverted, it's natural to feel overlooked. However, it's often an overthinking process. Various reasons, such as unfamiliarity, discomfort, or a preference for solitude, might deter people from approaching you. That's why the first point is crucial: approach people. Once you start talking to a few individuals, you'll feel more at ease and shed the feeling of being overlooked.
Distinguish between your professional and personal life; not all colleagues can be your friends. It's impractical to be friends with over 65 colleagues, but you can form meaningful connections with some. Friends can greatly assist you in navigating your journey within the company in ways that others can't. Company events are excellent opportunities to identify those individuals with whom you resonate most. Once you've found such people, keep in touch and make the most of those connections.
Kick out imposter syndrome
In the midst of 65+ individuals with diverse talents and skills, you may begin to question yourself. You might feel "less" or "not good enough." In such moments, remind yourself that these feelings aren't valid. The simple fact that you're among these talented individuals is evidence that you have something valuable to offer and that you're on par with anyone in your unique way.
All of the strategies discussed above may sound like hard work but don't forget the importance of having fun. Share interesting stories, funny encounters, or anything that makes people laugh and brings joy to your interactions. Find the positive aspects of the event and enjoy them to the fullest.
In the end
You might think I'm making a big deal out of the seemingly simple topic of "company events." However, whether we acknowledge it or not, company events are the most underrated opportunities to grow within the organization. They provide a platform to enhance your skills, expand your knowledge, explore company-related topics, make new friends, and simply have a good time. So, the next time you're invited to such an event, don't second-guess your attendance. Accept the invitation and seize the opportunity to make the most of it.