By the numbers, Akamai's scale, reach and ability to help brands connect users to immersive and immediate online experiences while protecting their businesses from threats, is quite impressive. While I'm proud that Akamai connects with billions of devices daily and that we're within a single hop of 90% of the world's Interenet users, I'm far more inspired by our human connections. Connections with colleagues strengthen my commitment, drive my engagement, and bring what we can do for our customers to the next level.
In Nicholas A. Christakis' book, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, he explores our influence on our friends, our friend's friends, and well beyond. His research and perspective on human networks is fascinating. He writes:
"While a network, like a group, is a collection of people, it includes something more: a specific set of connections between people in the group. These ties, and the particular pattern of these ties, are often more important than the individual people themselves. They allow groups to do things that a disconnected collection of individuals cannot. The ties explain why the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And the specific pattern of the ties is crucial to understanding how networks function."
Creating a network that can make the impact Christakis describes must start somewhere. Read on for my perspective on how you can seek out meaningful connections at work.
Be the first to offer help.
Whether it's helping a colleague carry boxes to an all company meeting, volunteering to take a new hire to lunch, reporting a printer jam, or asking your boss how you can help -- do it!
You don't have to say yes to everything or offer endless support to everyone, every day. Setting expectations and limits is incredibly important to your success and work-life balance. That said, if you seek out opportunities to help a little can go a long way.
Be willing to share.
At Akamai, we're fortunate to work with people from many different backgrounds and experiences. Sometimes you have to get a little bit personal to make connections. It's easy to get caught up in deadlines, project objectives, and KPIs. But, you can build trust and make an even bigger business impact if you are invested in one another. Try to find both common ground and a common understanding.
Introduce yourself and share your interests. Ask questions, and your colleagues may do the same. Whether it's a sharing passion for running, unfaltering dedication to Game of Thrones, or your upcoming vacation plans, developing a way to connect is critical.
Become a part of the community.
More often than not, you can find opportunities to engage on your own terms. It could be giving back to your local community through corporate volunteerism, participating in an annual blood drive, joining an employee resource group, joining the company's run club or signing up for peer appreciation programs. Choose what interests you. Carve out time for it once in a while or make it a regular habit.
For remote employees, these programs often extend virtually too. And, there ways to use your virtual spaces like your Intranet or corporate chat tools to build up a strong sense of community. Create a Slack group to build connections (think: #akamairunners or #GOTRFans). Extend a virtual ideathon online. Send a weekly or monthly update to your team that includes work accomplishments and personal achievements too.
Work may feel busy and stressful sometimes. You have a ton of deadlines and you've mastered multitasking. But whether you're at a meeting or someone has stopped by your desk, make every effort to show your colleagues they have your full attention. If you are checking email or on your phone during a meeting, workshop, or presentation my advice is...skip it. When you're fully engaged, people notice.
Don't worry too much when you're seeking out connections. When you're authentically you, others will feel more confident and you can all represent the diversity of your thoughts, ideas and solutions. Show your value and perspective to your team and company. Don't be afraid to engage. You are bound to enjoy the experiences and connections that are yet to come.
Julie Carey is Senior Manager of Global Brand & Messaging at Akamai. In her current role, Julie helps shape, evolve and strengthen the Akamai brand to make lasting and positive associations among customers, prospects and the outside world. A passionate marketer with a decade for B2B experience her background includes product marketing, client service, and events. Prior to Akamai, Julie spent a number of years at B2B tech publisher TechTarget and played a key role in establishing the product marketing function at Boston-based LogMeIn.