Networking at your office leads to positive outcomes for everyone who participates. It can build confidence, enhance team culture, and improve job satisfaction. Whether you’re the new kid in the office, a seasoned manager, or the business owner, promoting and participating in a strong internal network is worth it.
What is Networking?
Networking is the process of developing relationships with other professionals. Networking often starts with a casual conversation which, overtime, can lead to information exchanges, project collaborations, and open the door to new opportunities. Perhaps even more important, networking often produces a greater sense of well-being through our connections with others.
From the outside, networking looks like you’re just meeting someone new and getting to know them. What’s different is that it’s intentional and mutually beneficial. Networking is about sharing, not taking. It’s about building trust and helping each other move toward your respective goals.
Benefits of Networking Internally
Networking within the office is a great way to build a strong team. Internal networks promote a sense of connection that increases employee satisfaction, motivation, and productivity. Networking also contributes to a positive office culture. Co-workers and leaders learn about each other’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as their interests and goals, which enhances their ability to work as a team. Good things happen when team members feel valued as individuals and it contributes to a culture where people want to stay.
How to Start Networking
The good news is that networking internally doesn’t have to be complicated – start by being friendly. When you see coworkers in the hallway, by the coffee machine, or on the elevator, make a point to smile and say “hi.” If it’s someone you haven’t met before, introduce yourself. Instead of eating lunch alone, invite a coworker to join you. And don’t ignore office invites. When there are team-building activities such as social outings or community service projects, be sure to participate. If there’s a new employee, maybe you can be the one to help organize a “Welcome” lunch.
Networking Virtually Helps You Feel More Connected
Networking is even more important if you work virtually because of the risk of feeling isolated when you work alone. Having strong relationships with your colleagues can make up for the loss of social interactions that keep us feeling energized, connected and part of a team. Networking might seem more difficult when you’re working virtually, but given all the tools available, you can be just as successful as when you network in person.
Tips for Networking Virtually
Follow the company’s social media and use it to make yourself visible and connect with others. It doesn’t take much time to congratulate a colleague on an achievement or share an informative post your coworkers might enjoy. If your company hosts virtual events such as professional webinars, or more purely social activities like happy hours, be sure to participate, even if they’re described as optional. If your office doesn’t currently offer these opportunities, volunteer to organize one. Scheduling a team coffee break is easy to do and can be a great way to build camaraderie and strengthen team culture.
Networking Benefits Your Company
As good as internal networking is for employees, it’s also good for the companies that promote it. By improving communications, networking plays a big role in sharing knowledge, problem-solving, and facilitating innovation, all of which is good for business. Networking also helps employees have a stronger sense of belonging which translates into more motivated and productive workers, with less employee turnover. When your office is committed to networking, everyone comes out ahead.