Although there are any number of different networking groups and events you can attend, some of the best networking will occur within your organization. To build your reputation internally and understand “who’s who in the zoo” it is worth investing time to get to know the people around you. Try these suggestions to boost your internal networking skills.
Arrange a Lunchtime self-development session. Determine a topic your colleagues would be interested in, simply invite someone into your organization to give a brief presentation allowing time for questions and answers. You don’t need to pay this person; they may be an internal expert you invite. Choose someone who is an expert in their topic area. When organizing the meeting, set up the agenda so that there is time when people arrive to meet each other, allow 20 minutes for the presentation, 10 minutes for questions and a few minutes at the end to continue chatting to co-workers.
Organize a lunchtime sports team. This is a great way to build teamwork internally and also get to know people from other areas within the organization. Put up a notice or send an email asking for interested parties and then form a team i.e. basketball, football, tennis team are all fun and easy to organize. Find a park or gym close to the office you can use and set a regular time and day each week to meet. This is a great way to also get fresh air and exercise while networking. You might even like to get everyone to contribute some funds and organize team t-shirts to wear, your organization may even have some you can use!
Hold a quarterly breakfast forum and invite the CEO. Make an appointment with your CEO’s Executive Assistant and advise them you would like to invite the CEO to a quarterly breakfast where they can meet the team and also answer questions they might have. Once you get approval from the EA, book the next quarter’s date and find a suitable venue. Each person pays for their own breakfast so it doesn’t cost the company any money. Make arrangements with a café close to the office or in-house catering if you have it, and start at 7.30 and finish by 8.45. This allows people to meet, ask the CEO questions and get involved in discussions.
Seek or start a mentor program. Identify people you would like to learn from within the organization and approach them about being mentored for 6 months. If your organization already has a mentoring program, sign up and get involved
Get involved in a charity. Select a deserving charity and organize events within the company to raise money for them. Your company may already have a chosen charity, if so; invite someone from the organization to update your colleagues on suggestions of how you can help. This can be a fun way to help others and also help you get to know those you work with.
Hold a ‘brown bag’ seminar at lunchtime. Invite everyone to bring their own lunch; you can invite a speaker to provide information to the team. The topics might be relevant to them for outside life i.e. health, fitness, family or some way to add value to the people you work with. The topics can come from your colleagues – ask them for suggestions. You can hold these on a monthly basis and allow time within the agenda to meet at least two other people from other departments. Advertise it on the notice boards, email and in the bathrooms (you would be surprised how many people read information in the bathrooms).
Organize cross-function team events. Get to know other teams within the business by hosting a morning tea and asking the other team to explain what they do within the business and the challenges they face, and then you do the same. This is a great way to find about others and also share what you are working on.
Start a book club. Find a few people who are interested in similar books to you, set yourself a book to read every two months. If it is a local author, invite them to join you at one of your meetings to explain more about the book and why it was written. Most authors love to meet their readers. When you get together, chat about what you learned from the book, what your opinions are on the writing style and what you liked most about the book.
Get in a project team. Seek opportunities to work on projects within your team and with other departments. Ensure you have your manager’s permission to be involved. This is a great way to network and learn from others.
Write for the company newsletter. Offer to provide articles or updates for the internal newsletter. This is a great way to work with the production team (who are often volunteers looking for content for the newsletter).
Provide your business card to co-workers. When you meet someone from another department always offer your card. This will give them your contact information if they want to contact you again.
Make the most of getting to know those you work with, take time to learn what they do and how you can work together to achieve your goals.