How to Network Within Your Company
Doing your job and doing it well isn’t enough. If your nose is pushed too hard into the grindstone, you’re missing opportunities to network and make connections within your company.
Why You Should Care About Connections
The best worker isn’t always the one who wins the promotion. If no one knows you because you’re holed up in your cubicle all day, then the coworker who asks about the boss’s new puppy or organizes the NCAA basketball brackets may get to GS14 before you do.
If you’ve been hiding in your office for years, don’t suddenly emerge with a huge grin and start shaking everyone’s hand tomorrow. You don’t want to seem fake. Start by saying “good morning” to your colleague. Next week, when the gang heads out for tacos, surprise them and join the lunch bunch.
Invest In Some Personal Time
Setting boundaries between work and your personal life is an important step in protecting both your job and your sanity. But to effectively network, you’ll need to be willing to spend some of your personal time getting to know the people in your company. That means taking time to have a coffee with a coworker before work, going to lunch, and joining the group for drinks after work. Some managers invite the team over for a supper night a few times a year, making sure to round up the evening by 7 p.m. so no one feels burdened. Everyone gets a chance to relax, relate a little more casually, feel appreciated, and see the boss as human.
Attend The Event
Go to at least some of the weddings, graduation parties, and other events you’re invited to attend. Don’t forget funerals either. Showing up deepens the relationships with people on your team. Carving out the time will be easier in some stages of life than others, but no matter how busy you are, you shouldn’t miss opportunities to express that you care about your coworkers and the important occasions in their lives.
Network On Your Level
In addition to taking an occasional lunch with your coworkers, look beyond your day-to-day team to network with people on your level working elsewhere in the company. Ask to meet up with someone in a different group. You can leverage a skill value or insight you have that might be helpful and also learn about the other employee’s division. Learning you wouldn’t want to work in a particular branch is just as important as identifying one you would want to join.
While you’re networking with your peers, ask around to see who might be a good mentor, sponsor, or advisor. Start off casually, asking for a meeting on her terms and turf—since you’re initiating contact, you’ll need to be flexible and attentive to the other person’s preferences. Don’t limit yourself to one person—seek out several experts. No one person has all the answers, and you’re looking to gain as much knowledge as you can. Plus, if your one mentor leaves the company, you’ll need to start your search again.
As you come out of your shell and start making connections with others in your company, you might just find yourself enjoying your job more than you did in the past. But don’t get too attached to your current position—if you excel at networking, it’s likely you’ll find yourself moving up!