Internal networking is your primary resource for transforming your career within your company. If you want to be in charge and in control of your career within your organization, you need to develop an internal network of connections at and above your level, as well as with key influencers and key connectors in your company. This is the best way to fast-track promotions and find new opportunities you might never hear about otherwise.
The Benefits of Internal Networking
For the employee, internal networking is a key way to discover opportunities within the company. Casual conversations with other employees can help you gather useful information about career advancement requirements, new industry and business trends, and even a better understanding of how you can contribute to the company’s mission and vision.
For the company, encouraging internal networking can reduce employee turnover because employees feel more connected to other team members and to the company and its goals. Teams that know each other well can boost and maintain morale and bring out the best in each other.
Internal Networking Tips for Success
Now is the time to build and grow an internal executive network of mutually trusted relationships. Don’t wait until you’re ready to move up to approach these people. Instead, take the initiative to get to know them now.
- Start by identifying people who are already doing great work in their current role or have experience outside of their current role. These can be people you already know, people who interact with your department, or people in different areas of the company.
- Once you’ve identified these individuals, reach out to them, introduce yourself, and then ask them questions like: What do you see yourself accomplishing in five years? How can I help you accomplish those things? What skills do you think are important for success in my role? What have been the keys to your success?
- Be prepared to invest some time into developing these relationships. It may mean going beyond just asking questions and actually helping them succeed in their role.
- Remember that you should always be looking to add value. If someone asks you for something, offer to help them first before asking for anything in return.
- Keep your ears open and listen carefully to what others say. Listen for clues that tell you their professional goals and what they need to achieve them.
- When you identify someone who could benefit from your expertise, reach out to them again and let them know you’d love to help them achieve their goals.
- Remember that you don’t have to ask permission to connect with people. Just do it!
- Most importantly, keep your eyes peeled for opportunities that align with your interests and strengths. And when you find one, seize it!
The earlier you start building this network, the easier it will be to expand later on. As you grow your connections, people will know who you are and what you do. Your name will come up in conversations about projects and, over time, you’ll be seen as someone who drives productivity.
Approach Internal Networking with a Positive Mindset
Networking can feel awkward if you’re not used to it. But remember that it doesn’t need to be formal or complicated. The most successful networks are built around common interests and shared values.
If you’re nervous about approaching people, try starting small. Reach out to one person at a time and make sure you’re genuinely interested in learning more about them.
If you’re worried that you won’t be able to provide enough value to warrant being included in their network, consider reaching out to people who you think would appreciate your input. If you are interested in someone’s career path, ask them about their goals and aspirations. Ask them what they are currently working on and what they hope to accomplish next. Find out what motivates them and what challenges they face in their current role.
Asking questions and active listening are key to making a connection. Remember, you are there to learn something from the other person. Networking is not about talking about yourself or looking for opportunities to promote yourself. It’s about helping others succeed and feeling rewarded by the knowledge you gain.
The Value of Being Well-Connected
You’ve likely heard the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In your company, this means healthy relationships with your colleagues at all levels — below, at, and above your position.
Now is the time to build and grow an internal executive network of mutually trusted relationships. Your internal network is the key to promotions, new opportunities (new projects, new tech, etc), and a stellar professional reputation.
Your internal network will not grow on its own — you need to start and manage these relationships. If you’re worried about reaching out to anyone, remember that everyone likes to know someone is interested in them.