These days, we talk openly about the importance of networking, and how your network can be as important as your job. How are you advancing? Who is there to help you get to the next level? Do you have adequate numbers of mentors, sponsors, friends, and colleagues? As the pressure to build a network grows, Anne Kraemer contends that it may be at the expense of our relationships internal to our companies. Kraemer was the Executive Vice President, Worldwide Creative Director for Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite, and recently wrote the article “Workers, Take Off Your Headphones” for Harvard Business Review.
Kraemer found that, “Most younger people in our increasingly post-telephonic office world wear headphones about half of the time they’re working. And all but one of those I interviewed said that they had at least one G-chat or Skype window open throughout the day, every day — some of them checking in with as many as five non-work friends or family members every hour. And the majority of these young workers said that they felt far more connected moment to moment with people outside their workplaces than with any co-workers — the nearby colleagues, including bosses, with whom they communicate primarily through e-mails or chat programs.”
Is this constant connection outside of our offices causing a stunted growth inside our companies? Could it be that our headphones actually make us seem less loyal? Less committed and connected to our colleagues? Perhaps.
So make a pact with your career today. Take off your headphones for most of your day, and maybe shut off your G-chat every now and again. Sure, when you’re knee deep in a project, that Jay-Z track can help you focus, but it may not help your career. Build your networks, but be sure you’re building them internally as well as externally. The next step may be from a place you already stand.