How Taking Your Networking In-House Could Help Your Career

Networking In-House

In “The Office” episode “The Meeting,” Jim, a successful Scranton paper salesman, sets up a meeting with New York-based CFO David Wallace to discuss company productivity and a possible promotion. Although things don’t go as planned (as usual, thanks to the antics of Michael Scott), the episode is a great illustration of on-the-job networking.

What’s on-the-job networking? Also called internal networking, it’s an often-overlooked method to help you advance your career within your current company. On-the-job networking is a smart move, because internal job applications often get preference over outside applicants for open positions. Compared to traditional networking, on-the-job networking is in many ways less challenging because you already know the firm. You’re familiar with its operations and can identify people you’d like to know better — and keep an eye on roles you’re interested in before they become available. The trick is to network effectively.

Connect with your colleagues.

On-the-job networking is going beyond chatting with your colleagues while getting coffee or hobnobbing with your cubicle mates. If you have a good working relationship with your boss, ask him or her about other leaders and sectors in your organization, and do your own research as well. Networking aside, it’s always a good idea to learn about all areas of the place where you work. To take it a step further, getting to know your organization’s leaders will help put a face with your name if you decide to submit an application for a different department.

Make a list of other important people in your organization whom you’d like to get to know — your internal networking A-list. If you’re uncomfortable approaching them directly, find someone to introduce you. When you meet for a casual conversation, let them know what you do for the organization and find out more about what they do, too. Ask them how you could help them, and to let you know if they hear of positions you may be interested in.

The most significant person you may overlook when networking internally is the executive assistant. Don’t make that mistake: Executive assistants can get you face time with executives and even help you navigate the interaction.

Be active.

Don’t overlook any on-the-job networking opportunities, even if at first they seem frivolous. Many offices organize employee groups or activities. If yours puts together a charity event or a softball team, participate. Volunteering at work-sponsored events expands your network, and you might have some fun, too!

And speaking of volunteering, volunteer to lead or participate in work-related training and development programs. Organizations often have these types of events that contain unlimited on-the-job networking potential.

Don’t forget to network at lunch. You can build your internal networking connections quicker than you can sign onto LinkedIn by inviting people out to lunch or simply breaking bread with new coworkers in the cafeteria.

Give before you get.

Remember the Golden Rule of networking: You must give before you get. Send congratulatory emails to colleagues who are promoted, receive an award or achieve another professional milestone. Show you’re a team player by publicly singing the praises of your colleagues’ achievements — sincerely, of course. During meetings, let others know about the good work your coworkers have done, and give due credit to those who have helped you professionally. You don’t want to be seen as someone who always has his hand out, but as someone quick to give a hand to others. Your efforts will be rewarded.

How has on-the-job networking worked for you? Let us know in the comments section.

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