Networking has long been considered a vital tool for career advancement. As the saying goes, if you want to get ahead, who you know is just as important as what you know (and in some cases, even more so).
However, most people have traditionally applied this wisdom to external opportunities. They think of networking as an activity that only happens outside of their current place of employment. It’s how you gain the crucial introduction or job interview to land that sweet new gig.
If this is how you currently think, you may initially be puzzled by the concept of internal networking. But rest assured: The idea is simple. Instead of focusing solely on expanding and deepening your connections in the outside world, why not do the same thing each day in your own workplace?
With internal networking, you have the opportunity to raise your profile and build your reputation with colleagues across the organization. When it comes to advancing your career where you currently are, these are the relationships that really count. With a little effort, you might be able to tap into a wealth of opportunities right under your nose.
So, how exactly do you effectively network inside your own company? Here are a few strategies to get you started.
- Be Friendly in the Shared Spaces
One of the easiest ways you can begin networking internally is to simply smile more and make eye contact with your colleagues as you pass them in the shared spaces of your workplace. Whether you’re walking the halls, eating lunch in the breakroom or simply riding the elevator, don’t miss the opportunity for interaction. Sometimes, tossing out a small conversation starter (like, “Crazy weather we’re having, isn’t it?”) is all it takes to eventually create a meaningful relationship.
- Show Curiosity for the Goals and Work of Others
People are drawn to those who demonstrate a sincere curiosity in getting to know them. When you’re trying to build and enhance your relationships at work, ask people what has their attention these days and how you can help them be successful. Don’t worry about sounding nosy; if someone doesn’t want to or can’t share details, they won’t. But they’ll still appreciate your interest.
Likewise, when others show an interest in understanding your work, take the time to share whatever you can. Show your genuine enthusiasm for what you do, and others will naturally gravitate to you more.
- Celebrate the Wins of Others
When someone earns a promotion or achieves something really remarkable, take time to reach out and congratulate them. Doing so will demonstrate that you really do care about their success and you’re truly a supporter who wants the best for them. It also shows you’re not afraid or jealous of other people’s success.
- Invite People to Lunch
There’s something about getting away from the workplace that loosens people up and allows them to make connections more freely. Inviting a colleague to join you for lunch may sound weird at first, but it’s a great way to really get to know one another. Don’t make it a formal affair; this isn’t a date! It’s just a friendly conversation held over a meal in a new environment.
- Make Introductions
Finally, be a connector for others in your company. When you believe two people would mutually benefit from knowing one another, make the introduction. Adopt a service mindset and ask yourself, “What connections do I have that would help this person most?” Then, make it happen. Both parties will be thankful you did.
While internal networking is great for your career, it’s also a hugely helpful tool for everyday workplace productivity. Without it, it’s easy to develop a silo mentality, where you forget that all areas of the organization are interconnected and interdependent. By creating strong working relationships throughout the company, you have the ability to make better decisions, identify more cohesive solutions, and, ultimately, get more done. In short, this is one career tool that offers plenty of benefits for a minimal investment of time. There’s no reason not to get started today.