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Six Tactics to Effectively Network Internally at an Organization

By Nikki MacCallum

Networking internally within your current place of employment is one of the best things you can do to set your career up for success. Not only is it one of the most accessible forms of networking but it can also be one of the most impactful. The primary reason it’s more accessible than external networking is because you already have obvious common ground with the person with whom you’re trying to network. You both work for the same company. A mentor gave me a great piece of advice when it comes to building connections, “start with the known to get to the unknown.”

The reason networking internally can be so impactful is because it gains you visibility, credibility, and as a result, opportunities within your current organization. It can lead to multiple avenues that might help round out your skillset, which can lead to advancement down the road. Also, it’s important to remember that individuals don’t stay at the same company forever. You may form a strong relationship with a co-worker who may one day move on to work at a different company. That person then becomes an external contact and may be able to help you get a job elsewhere down the road. Depending upon your company culture, having relationships across multiple departments is also helpful in the event you one day want to transfer to a different department. The more your colleagues understand what you do as well as your aspirations, the better chance you have of someone presenting you with an opportunity.

To be clear, opportunities come in many different shapes and sizes. They do not necessarily equate to a new job or position. This is important to remember because a lot of individuals seem to hesitate to share their career aspirations with a manager or peer out of fear that it will create the illusion that they’re looking to change jobs. While an opportunity certainly can be a new position, it can also be a big initiative or project that can gain you visibility within your organization. The more people know about who you are and what you’re doing, the more they will think of you and ask you to do it.

This blog will discuss six ways to effectively network across your current organization.

  1. Build relationships with upper management and prominent leaders within your company. This is important for multiple reasons. First and foremost, you want leaders at your organization to know who you are. That can only help you professionally. Once they know who you are, they will think of you for projects and recommend you for other things. It is also important to have champions at your company. What I mean by a champion, is an individual who has buy-in. There have often been times throughout my career when I was trying to kick off an initiative and was ultimately only able to get traction by leveraging relationships I’d made with champions. It’s also critical to have multiple relationships with upper management who are not your direct supervisor. Many of us are lucky and have wonderful relationships with our managers while others are not so lucky. It’s always good to have more than one higher up be the recipient of your work. How do I build relationships with potential champions you might ask? It’s fairly simple. Just ask them for a coffee or for a fifteen-minute phone call to pick their brain about what they do or to simply get to know them. Stay in touch via email and try to have consistent conversations on a quarterly basis. Share with them what you’ve been working on, and ask them questions about themselves and or the business.
  2. Get to know individuals from other teams. This is important because the more you understand how other teams work, the more you will understand how the business as a whole works. That information can help you identify creative opportunities where you might be able to add value. It’s also great to know what roles other people at your company are in because down the road you may want to try something else but remain at the same place of employment. Having contacts in other departments is also helpful in the event you need to ask for help, advice or need to troubleshoot. There are also instances where your role may require you to work with another department and the better the relationship you have with someone in another department, the more likely they are to prioritize your request. There are many ways you can go about networking with other co-workers that can be as simple as attending company events or grabbing drinks after work. In the office, it’s always great to make yourself visible. Take your laptop one day and work in a high traffic area. Maybe that’s next to the kitchen. Put yourself in a position to be visible.
  3. Get involved in extracurricular activities or clubs. Often times, companies will have charity initiatives or various social activities. One thing we have at Lighthouse is Lighthouse Cares. Put yourself in situations where you’ll get to work with and or interact with individuals who you don’t encounter on a day-to-day basis.
  4. Tell people when they’ve done a good job! This is a great way to network. If someone in your company makes a speech at an event or you hear they close a large piece of business, reach out and congratulate them! Recognition goes a long way and I assure you that person will remember you fondly. If a colleague does a really good job or says something smart on a client call, send them an email telling them how much you appreciate them.
  5. Tell people what you’re working on. If you don’t tell people what you’re working on, there is a large likelihood that no one aside from your manager knows what you’re working on. There are many ways to share information about a project. You could ask someone for advice or let them know you’re working on this project and are wondering if they could offer their insight on a particular aspect. If a friendly colleague asks you how your day is, tell them about the project you’re working on!
  6. Directly reach out to individuals at your company whom you have not met. This one can feel a little strange but I think it is extremely important. If I see an individual’s name pop up on an email and I’ve never heard of them, I’ll often send them a note introducing myself. It is one of the best ways to get to know folks in your company who may work in other offices or remotely.

Building relationships with upper management by asking for 1:1s, asking advice from folks on other teams, getting involved in extracurricular activities or clubs, telling your peers when they’ve done a good job, letting others know what you’re working on, and directly reaching out to individuals whom you’ve not met are six simple ways to get you started networking across your current organization. The more connections you have, the more doors will open for you down the road, even if you can’t see them now let alone fathom what they may be.

If you have questions about this blog article or want to chat about the concept further, please feel free to reach out to me at NMacCallum@lighthouseglobal.com.

Nikki MacCallum

Nikki MacCallum brings over thirteen years of experience in the executive search space with a focus on litigation technology and eDiscovery. She’s spoken on panels and at conferences nation-wide (ABC News, Women in eDiscovery, LegalTech, CALSM, ARIAS) and was recently the key note speaker for a global Career Panel Workshop at American Express. Nikki is also a resident speaker at New York City’s Coalition for the Homeless where she privately mentors underprivileged women looking to re-enter the workforce.

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