8 Reasons “Internal Networking” Is Good for Your Career
“Internal networking” is much the same as regular professional networking, except that the connections or ‘network’ you’re building come from your current employer. Too often we think that to be a successful networker we have to attend happy hours, luncheons, or conferences, handing out business cards at every turn and rattling off our elevator pitch to stranger after stranger.
Not so. Your current organization is a treasure trove of valuable professional connections just waiting to be discovered and nurtured, and by taking care to form meaningful relationships with your colleagues, bosses or even your employees, you can build one of the strongest, most beneficial networks of your professional life.
Still not convinced? Here are the most compelling reasons why you should make internal networking an immediate priority:
One of the greatest benefits from successful internal networking is the kind of “insider” access it can give you to new jobs or departments that may be opening up. It’s a great way to find out about career internal moves or opportunities for advancement before they are advertised publicly so that you can have ample time to prepare and express your interest in the role.
Good connections for future references
Your coworkers and bosses are an excellent source for references. Whether you’re asking a colleague for an endorsement on LinkedIn, a personal recommendation or you’re soliciting your boss for a formal letter of recommendation for a new position or opportunity, if you’ve laid the groundwork and formed solid relationships through good internal networking, chances are you’ll get glowing recommendations for whatever you need.
Your professional reputation
People talk. And, if you stay in the same field or industry long enough, your community of colleagues starts to feel smaller and smaller as the years go by and you get to know more people. As this happens, your professional reputation (what others think of you or how they perceive you as a professional) becomes increasingly important, and it is a highly valuable asset -- often just as much as your experience or technical skills -- that can play a large part in whether or not you’re considered for career advancement opportunities. By networking with your current team members and colleagues, you’re adding to the ‘equity’ of your professional reputation.
Expand your skill set
If you’re looking to expand your skill set -- either to become more marketable or well-rounded in your field or to ready yourself (and diversify your resume) for a career shift, internal networking can give you an avenue to reach out to colleagues in other departments or roles and ask them for ways that you can either contribute to their area, strengthen your skills or learn more about their workload.
Connect the dots
Successful internal networking isn’t limited to chatting it up with your closest co-workers. In fact, the more you branch out and connect with colleagues in other departments, teams or locations, the more you learn about the organization as a whole and are able to have a more holistic view of your employer’s mission or position in the industry. This will give you a much broader, yet deeper and richer sense of how the organization functions as a whole and will give you some valuable perspective on your own career path, field and industry.
Sometimes it’s simply easier to engage in internal networking when you’re already at work because, well, you’re already there! You don’t have to make a special effort or attend a fancy event to build a strong professional network -- just look around your office and start reaching out!
Boost your performance
Some studies have shown that employees who network internally often experience higher levels of success, performance or motivation in the workplace. Forging meaningful, valuable connections with your colleagues can be a great way to feel engaged and like an integral part of your organization, which may lead you to a heightened sense of overall satisfaction at work and push you to work that much harder or better.
If you’ve taken the time and energy to build meaningful relationships with your colleagues that are authentic and mutually beneficial, it’s pretty likely that those same colleagues will be there to support you or prop you up when challenges arise and problems need to be solved. Likewise, they should also be able to rely on you as a key supporter in their own times of need, strengthening the professional bond and sense of trust that you share.