It may seem like a big world out there; besides your colleagues that you see and work with everyday in your academic department, your academic family can extend to others in your discipline. Whether you see or interact with each other daily or even weekly, because of technology, the world is a much smaller place than you think.
It is important to meet and get to know others in your academic department. The wealth of knowledge from your colleagues will help you explore areas that you may not have thought of or even known. More importantly, this allows for collaborative efforts in teaching and research. In addition, others in your department can help you network and navigate the larger world in your discipline.
I have had a benefit of professors at the IU School of Education to encourage me to collaborate with them on research and attend academic conferences with them. This opportunity not only strengthens my academic portfolio for later employment, but it helps me make connections with other colleagues. By being involved, the large and scary realm of academia becomes much smaller, manageable, and personable. It all becomes your family!
Every person has something unique about them. If you spend time to really get to know them and understand their life experiences, you will be amazed of what you can learn. Reach out to your colleagues now; either those you work with everyday or those you see once in a while, you will be surprised of how much you can learn from each other.