I work in a very informal culture where employees across all levels of hierarchy call each other "mate" or "buddy". Managers often make critical decisions outside the company walls, during lunch or maybe at the bar. Or they go to the gym during a break. They form cliques, small circles of friends, and determine quite a few important things behind the scenes before announcing anything at official meetings.
I am currently a junior-middle level manager of a department that is among the most pressed for resources and also gets the majority of workload. For some reason (I believe mainly time/resources and the fact that I am almost always required to be addressing something, solving an issue, often quite urgently, etc.), I think I have grown increasingly sidelined from the management ranks since my promotion to this role; I also feel this is threatening my job performance because I might be missing some of the details, find out things last and am not making good relationships. People around me are being promoted, some are given responsibilities I used to have because for some reason they decided to and I don't even know why. I feel very un-competitive.
What can I do in a situation like this, where on the one hand I don't have time for gossip and socializing, but on the other hand that's what I will need in order to propel my career upward?
How can I justify to my own manager that I need more "face time" with the rest of the company? Note that my manager is a top technical/scientific specialist who uses me and my team to channel the requests coming into him and find/manage the technical resources he needs. So he is even less involved in day-to-day company gossip/networking than myself, but is highly valued for his expertise.