Developing ties with those who will proactively root for your success is vital for your career.

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There’s nothing like the roar of football fans on game day when their team takes the field for the first time. Before the game even starts you can feel the hopeful anticipation and intense desire from fans who want to see their team succeed.

Of course, fans will cheer for big plays throughout the game, but they don’t need to see a single snap to root for their team or for a favorite player.

Cheering is reactionary. Who wouldn’t cheer for the game-winning touchdown or the perfectly timed tackle?

Rooting is proactive and shows a deeper commitment. Fans cheer for a job well done. They root for a player or team when they’ve taken a personal interest.

That kind of commitment and passion is why you need to develop your own fan base at work. Colleagues who take a proactive interest in seeing you succeed make your workplace more enjoyable, increase your job satisfaction and boost your productivity.

Your résumé and job qualifications alone won’t develop that kind of relationship any more than showing highlights of a player over and over develops the kind of passion that puts the “fan” in fanatic.

Fans need to actually hear from, and relate to, a player. That’s when they cross over from expressing casual interest to passionate rooting. The same is true for you.

Athletes use interviews to connect with fans. You use conversations — the kind that go beyond work — to connect with colleagues. If you don’t give colleagues a chance to know you, you can’t expect them to like you or be invested in your success. Your colleagues already know you can do the work; they want to know what you’re like to work with.

Developing a fan base at work starts with these three steps.

Initiate conversations. It’s hard to be a fan of someone who sits at his or her desk and doesn’t make an effort to engage with anyone. Take the initiative and be proactive in striking up conversations.

Share your story. If the only thing you ever talk about is work, you create a group of casual observers. When you find connection points outside of work, you’re developing “fans” who will support you, cheer for you and could one day even advocate for you.

Your story will unfold over time, so avoid oversharing or dominating a conversation to the point that it does sound like you’re hogging the microphone at a press conference.

Follow up. You can’t have one conversation with a colleague and think you’ve done enough to build a fan base. Relationships are cultivated over time. Pick a topic, like sports, that has broad appeal and an entire season’s worth of built-in conversations. Planning for small talk gives you a way to keep the lines of communication open, direct conversations the way you want them to go and keeps you engaged with colleagues.

Your personal impact develops your fan base at work. Give colleagues a chance to become a fan of you, not just your work, and you’ll gain the kind of support that leads to your next big win.

(Courtesy of Jen Mueller)
(Courtesy of Jen Mueller)