There are people who still believe that, networking, and building relationships to further your career, involves sucking up to the person whose job you’d like to be doing in two years’ time.
A better way to establish your professional, charismatic reputation would be to treat everybody with the same level of respect. Respect the guy who sorts your mail and your boss and your colleagues will respect you. Many of us fall into the trap of only being pleasant to junior colleagues when we want something from them, however people can see through that kind of calculating behaviour.
And be warned; the traditional career trail does not exist any more. That office assistant you were rude to not so long ago could easily end up as your boss.
Being consistent, and genuinely respect will help you out in two ways. Firstly, people will assist you with the little jobs you don’t have time for. The PA is more likely to help you with your photocopying if you ask how her weekend was every Monday and actually listen to the answer.
Secondly, and more importantly, people will come to you with ideas as they trust you to present them to the boss without taking credit for yourself. It furthers their careers by getting their ideas noticed, and shows your boss you’re good at managing people.
Beware of the office grapevine: People discuss rudeness more than good behaviour. If you are negative and difficult, it doesn’t matter where it came from, stories like that will always grow legs and run around the company, and eventually the boss will get to hear it.
But if you’re friendly and respectful all the time, no one will have any reason to badmouth you to the boss.
Start Mentoring: It shows a real sense of responsibility if you guide a junior colleague, advising and acting as their sounding board. Such behaviour is valued, is recognised and improves your promotion prospects; it certainly can’t hurt with the increasing popularity of 360º appraisals in workplaces, which means everyone’s opinion, including those beneath you, counts.
Someone you have set a good example for, who you have taken the time to guide up the ladder, could also become a valuable future contact if they move companies.