How joining my office’s ‘social committee’ helped my career

Ad agencies have had a rep for being workplaces filled with booze, frivolity, and playtime, falling back on that comforting mentality of it being ‘just advertising’.

Over the 2+ years I’ve been at my agency, this mentality always seemed more like an urban, mad men myth.  With a strong focus on our work and considerable changes in the industry with new media and digital, it seemed those old days of the past were but a memory and we were barreling forward with the work ethic of Wall Street.

We’d forgotten a little about this joint idea of work and play.  So, a small group of us decided to form the Activiteam (Activity + Team) early last year with one clear purpose: to bring back ‘beer cart’ Fridays.  It blossomed into a year-long plan of parties and events, inspired by government holidays or quirky trivia.  With head-honcho approval, we budgeted, planned, and carried out three year’s worth of activities that the agency had been missing out on since the last Social Committee retired, albeit after a great but tiring job.

Being a part of a volunteer group within your work is something that brings you closer to your colleagues and upper management.  It’s a way that I’ve shown my passion for the job outside of my usual scope.  We have non-billable hours and dockets, we have work-hour meetings and off-hour ones, too.  I’ve had non-members ask me ‘how do you get your work done’ and I answer that it’s easy.  But it really isn’t that easy.  You just have to prioritize.

Here are my six tips surrounding being a part of a social committee at work:

1. Recruit colleagues who have similar titles/work levels as you. They will be more likely to make time and meet deadlines, plus they’ll share empathy.  Look for individuals who are in different departments to represent your office well.

2. Commit to a weekly, after-hours meeting time and stick to it. We thrive on our 5pm Tuesday meeting and go over what’s coming up and any presentations we need to prepare for our management team.

3. Plan out your three months, six months, 1 year and seek budget approval.  You are in business, so use your skills to treat your committee like one.  Make sure you have someone keeping the budget and create events that are well prepared.

4. Delegate! Create a workback schedule and figure out who needs to do what before and on the day of an event to get things going.

5. Devise a social media plan.  Make your events live longer than 2 hours by sharing them on your channels.  Take photos and use them in your content calendars (i.e. caption contests etc.).  Ensure you ask permission from staffers photographed.

6. Ask for feedback.  Use cheap tools like Survey Monkey to ask your coworkers what they think of your events.  Respond to their opinions and change your formulas, if need be. Always strive to be better.

Another important piece of advice that covers everything I’ve mentioned: Create an open-minded atmosphere where sharing, turning down or accepting ideas is encouraged and welcomed.  Who cares if they hated your idea for ‘kitten tee-shirt’ day.  The point is, you put it out there.

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