One of the primary predictors of friendship is…proximity. Yes, we are friends with people simply because they live closer to us than others.

As part of my passion project Lifeboat, I’m studying the many facets of friendship. And the proximity factor is something that applies to my work world as well.

While there is nothing wrong with letting the universe work its magic by meeting friends and colleagues in your department at work or through school, it’s important not to rely on fate alone.

Making conscious decisions about who you seek out, why you seek them out and how you seek them out can make both your friendships and professional relationships align more clearly with who you are and with who you want to be.

Rock star marketer Seth Godin writes, “Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with. And the collisions and the dreams lead to your changes. And the changes are what you become. Change the outcome by changing your circle.”

Here are a few ways to apply this in a professional setting:

  • Ask someone in your organization who you admire, but haven’t worked with out to lunch.
  • Actively seek out a mentor.
  • Convene a small multi-disciplinary campaign brainstorm including a communications staffer, program staffer, fundraiser and organizer.
  • Convene a multi-channel fundraising campaign brainstorm including offline fundraisers, donor services staff, online fundraisers, telemarketers and face-to-face fundraisers.
  • Volunteer at another organization in a completely different capacity.
  • Join a board and dream big with others who share that passion.

Actively looking for colleagues who bring out our best selves and introduce us to new and different perspectives can create rewarding relationships that get big results.