How To Become the Go-to Guy at Work

by Brett and Kate McKay on January 12, 2008 · 14 comments

in Money & Career


Do you feel like your career is in a rut? When was the last time you got a promotion or a raise? That long, huh? The best way you can get your career moving on the right track is to become the “go-to guy” at work. What is a go-to guy? You’ve seen these people before. They’re the ones who your boss and all your colleagues seek out for advice or to get something done. These people have made themselves indispensable at work. Therefore, they can leverage this to their benefit in negotiations for a raise or a promotion.

There’s no secret to becoming the go-to guy at work. You don’t have to be witty or charismatic. It just takes some good old fashioned hard work and some initiative from you.

Become the Man at Work

Volunteer for extra assignments. Whenever an opportunity arises for more work, take it on and do it well. Your boss will start noticing and you’ll gain his confidence. The great British Navy Admiral, Horatio Nelson, applied this principle throughout his entire career in the Navy. He took on extra jobs cheerfully and did them well. He soon earned a reputation as the go-to guy on all the ships he staffed. He was eventually rewarded by being made captain of his own ship when he was just 23. Nelson continued taking on more responsibilities until he was finally made the head of the entire British fleet.

Sure, it will be more work, but if you really want to rocket your career, you’re going to have to make the sacrifice.

Talk with as many colleagues as you can everyday. Make it a goal everyday to talk with at least 10 of your colleagues each day. If you have less than 10, then talk with them all. If you want to become the go-to guy, people at work have to know you exist. This can’t happen if you’re stuck in your cubicle all day. Take breaks throughout the day to shoot the breeze with your colleagues. Of course you don’t want to interrupt them, so find moments when they’re free to talk. Lunch time is perfect for conversations with your colleagues. Talk about anything with them. Work, family, sports. The idea is to get yourself out there so people can get to know you.

Start a blog on your industry. Blogs are a great tool to market yourself at work. Link to news clips affecting your industry and add your personal commentary on it. This shows your boss and colleagues two things. 1) You’re informed. Informed employees are assets to their companies. 2) You’re thinking about the issues your industry is facing in a critical way. Your commentary will show your boss that you’re taking initiative in confronting issues that affect your company. This is always impressive.

Setting up a blog is a breeze. You can do it for free through Blogger or Start yours today.

Join committees. Your company probably has lots of opportunities to get involved with committees. Get on one, even if it’s the committee that plans the company picnic. Committee work is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your leadership skills and is a chance for you to make new contacts. If your boss sees that you can run an awesome picnic, you plant the seed in his head that you can also run your department.

Just do it, damn it. Like all advice given on this site, the overriding principle is that you need to do something today. Find something you can do to make yourself the go-to guy at work right now and get to work on it. Start that blog account; sign up for that committee; take a colleague out to lunch; or volunteer for that extra assignment. With a little extra work, you’ll soon be the go to guy at work.

Image from foundphotoslj

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carl January 25, 2008 at 7:21 pm

I really like these tips.

Constantly communicating with your co-workers is a great way to contribute and build relationships that end up making you more productive.

and just do it (probably my favorite tip) – I can’t stand people who “talk” about what they might do instead of just doing it.

2 Steve Summers March 30, 2008 at 4:00 am

yea good stuff

3 Find a job July 21, 2008 at 5:36 pm

I’m in agreement with the ideas posted here. I am a firm believer in you got to make your own luck. Just do it damnit.


4 Dan July 23, 2008 at 10:16 am

Very good advice. The part about doing work cheerfully cannot be overstated. If it’s not genuine enthusiasm, then fake it!. As people trudge through their daily lives at work, a positive attitude can literally brighten up the entire workplace.

Everyone has worked with someone like this. Wouldn’t you like to work with them more? Be that person and rewards will follow.

5 Sam October 3, 2008 at 5:59 am

I work for the federal government (USAF civilian) and, contrary to stereotypes about government employees, this applies here too, especially in the new personnel system we are operating under called National Security Personnel System. Many of my colleagues complain about NSPS, but I think it’s good because it rewards good performance. Thus, if you’re one of the “go-to guys” in your office, then that will be noticed and rewarded.

6 Lou December 29, 2008 at 4:48 pm

Being the “go to guy” can also have the opposite effect. You may stymie getting promoted to management if you are too indispensable. You will need to groom the next GTG which shows that you have the management skills. Plus, you will need someone to ‘get things done’. It is a fine line to walk. My advise is to anticipate what your boss will need next, the next file, the next form, the next reference. Radar O’Reilly from M*A*S*H is a great example. ‘

7 Mike February 18, 2009 at 6:50 am

Regarding talking to 10+ people a day – don’t go around wasting people’s time with worthless conversation. A quick “hey, how ya doing?” is fine, but don’t come into my office and BS about nothing or you’ll quickly gain a reputation that is NOT conducive to career advancement.

8 tonya February 18, 2009 at 9:16 am

Taking on extra projects can be a great way to increase your skill set and expand your contacts. Just be careful where you direct your time and energy. You don’t want to be the guy editing the company newsletter, while your colleague is spending his free time finishing his MBA.

9 Chuck in NYC February 21, 2009 at 11:59 am

another fluff article. if someone didnt learn these points in high school, they shouldn’t be the “go to.” you didnt even cover politics, because you are wimps and this looks like it was written by a woman. guys, your reaching here, come up with some good content and quite posing as a mens resource.

10 Scott October 29, 2009 at 12:43 pm

1.) This ignores the situation (common in academic infighting) where doing extra tasks cheerfully makes you the dumping ground of every useless and unwanted errand, and without thanks, promotion or compensation. Take on extra stuff but don’t be a patsy about it or you’ll be wondering where your red stapler went all your life.

2.) Talking with 10 colleagues a day is hard with colleagues who don’t have the capacity for normal conversation and stare at their shoes a lot – if you’re in the geek squad, do the best you can.

3.) Don’t forget that at some point, at some time, in some place, you’re going to have to tell your idiot boss to take a hike. Figure out how to do that tactfully in advance.

11 Jai January 10, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Looks good on paper. With my experience being the go-to-guy has a better chance of backfiring. If you are looked upon from the higher-ups as dependable, you are most likely being taken for granted.
Some tasks comes up and eventhough you have contributed and worked harder than anyone else there, you can not for legitimate reasons take on the new assignment. The higher-up may say that the situation is understandable, but inside they feel letdown. However; a far less dependable person has taken the last month to do just a little bit more than they have in the past, even if its still less than their fair share. That person is being looked upon now favorably.
Do your job to the best of your ability. Do a little extra but don’t be taken for granted. Be friendly to everyone not just the higher-ups. It is more likely that your peers will put in a good word for you if they like you, rather than if you appear to be a kiss ass.

12 jt June 17, 2010 at 11:51 am

Good outline about how to be come he most valuable employee

13 AK August 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Great article. I’ve been going through some of your other articles as well. You have an interesting way of presenting helpful material.

14 Casey September 20, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Agreed that there is a better chance of backfire when taking on extra work…

It’s like the story of 2 journalists.
One wrote stories on every assignment he could get while the other was very selective in the assignments he took on. The first wrote brief articles which were often overlooked but the second wrote just a few really good articles that gained national recognition after which he was hired on by a major magazine. Who would you rather be?

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