I vaguely remember a Seinfeld episode where one of the characters (I think it was Elaine) took up smoking at work so she could hang out with the smokers during breaks. They kept getting promoted, and she wanted to build similar relationships so she could move up in her own career. It’s been so long since I’ve seen the episode that I don’t even remember how things turned out. Still, it provides a career management lesson that everyone can learn from.
No, it’s not taking up smoking! However, Elaine had a point when it came to networking with other people at work. Many of us think of it as something we do outside the organization when we’re looking for a new job. But, networking internally can have strong benefits.
As in the example, it can increase the odds of you getting promoted or making a move to a new department. On top of that, it can be a part of your long-term career management. With people changing jobs every few years, your internal network can open you up to numerous associations down the road.
So, how do you go about “working the crowd” at work? There are countless ways, but the below tips will help you get started:
1) Participate in “non-work” activities: if your organization has a softball league, volunteer committee, or other informal meet-up, joining can introduce you to people you wouldn’t have otherwise met.
2) Maximize on-the-job opportunities: whenever possible, take advantage of ways to meet new people or build upon existing relationships. For example, you may want to occasionally call someone or stop by their desk instead of sending an email. Or volunteer to participate in cross-functional projects, even if it’s in a small way.
3) Network socially: sit with new people in the cafeteria or ask colleagues to introduce you to their internal contacts.
These are just a few of the many ways you can go about building relationships with people you already work with. The great news is that with 25% of your waking hours spent at work, it won’t be too hard to fit into your schedule!