Working at a large organization gives you twice the networking power. During my 20 years with a large Connecticut company, I learned that internal and external networks are both worth your investment.
7 Ways to Boost Your Internal Networking Skills
Training and Development Programs.
Participate in any training programs that the company offers. Company training is usually a great idea for the learning benefits, but added to that is the chance to meet colleagues from other departments, divisions or geographies. I made some valuable connections at both live and online programs offered by my employer.
You will find many colleagues from across the company participating in volunteer assignments. This can range from taking a seat on a nonprofit board to showing up to paint a house. If your department needs someone to be a liaison with another group, this is a golden opportunity to build your network.
Show up at Company Events.
Make sure you are participating in all company events. I always enjoyed going to the annual awards program for employees as well as several other cross-company events. We had industry and government officials that rotated through as speakers. Attend, network and definitely don’t skip the reception.
I really enjoyed my close coworkers but I tried hard not to eat lunch with the same people each day. I often made lunch dates with friends from around the company. Often, I found these lunch meetings the most enjoyable and interesting part of each week. Don’t eat lunch with the same people every day! If lunchtime can’t work, schedule a “coffee catch-up” with key people you want to get to know better from other departments.
Lead a company project.
You may start out by being a team member the first year, but be ready to take a leadership role in a company project. This kind of volunteering has many benefits to you and the organization. For me, I took a leadership role in my company’s annual giving campaign. Our team was global and included people from every division.
Support other Employee Efforts.
I tried to keep up and support my friends around the company, whether in my department or not. I was on a nonprofit board and many of my colleagues were also participating on boards. I would find myself attending, volunteering or donating to the other nonprofit organizations to show support for my various friends in the company. There’s always opportunities to volunteer, donate or attend things that your colleagues recommend. They will always remember that you came and pitched in.
Be a connector.
Take every chance to introduce people across departments or regions. You can also introduce your coworkers to your external network and vice versa. It’s amazing how many relationships will deepen once you have helped people to connect. Try to help your coworker’s daughter land an interview or meet a great connection. Your connecting efforts will be highly valued.
I left my company early in 2013 after many years of service. My internal company relationships are still a great source of continuing friendship and inspiration. I am now partnering with several employees or ex-employees in various endeavors. These are relationships that I will always treasure.
What other great ways can you think of to network internally?