How to build an internal network

Make the most of your internal network

Networking is essential for building strong relationships and improving organisations, so don’t miss out on building your own internal network.

One major thing we all frequently overlook is how visible we are within our own organisations. Very often we are so focused on doing a great job and working well with our immediate colleagues that we lose sight of the larger internal networking picture. According to research from Catalyst, women pursue career development within their own organisations more than external opportunities. It makes sense that some energy and effort have to be focused on raising our visibility in our wider workplace.

Remember your network is your net worth.

Become more visible

Creating a network of strong relationships at all levels in any organization is invaluable for everyone and will help you successfully get things done. Very often these relationships are the cement that oil the machine of our working day. It might be the fixer, or someone who knows the organisational short cuts, or a colleague whose brain you can pick. But very importantly there is the key person who is familiar with navigating office politics.

Networking is also allowing you to add value and showcase skills that will help your colleagues and stakeholders be successful in their roles. It’s a win/win. At its core, it’s unofficial collaboration that keeps you top of mind when an opportunity arises.

Internal network

Sometimes networking can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. Our Returner Roll-Up Session can help you with Getting back on the Networking Horse.

Who should be in your internal network

Take a look across the organisation and map out key players. They are not always the most senior or influential. Being on good terms with procurement, catering and IT can be really useful in times of need.

  • A peer network. Your immediate team and peers are your first priority. Invite people for coffee or an informal lunch to get a better understanding of what they do and whether there is any potential for synergy.
  • Look across functions. Build relationships with people in other departments that you may interact with. Get a feeling of how the organisation as a whole gels together. A simple question about what their job entails or asking what they are working on will be enough for them to share valuable information.
  • The hierarchy. Having an understanding of how the structure of the organisation works is important. It will help you grasp the politics and personalities of those major decision makers. In a hierarchical company it will the executive assistants and PAs who traditionally act as gatekeepers who will be key to developing that understanding. In flatter organisations which tend to be more informal, access to the people themselves will be easier in the cafeteria or corridors. Even saying hello and making eye contact is a way of making your presence felt.
  • Senior leadership. Depending on where you sit in the hierarchy yourself a good way to interact with the people two levels above you are to ask for a mentor. There might be an official programme within your company or if not push a request through HR or your own boss to facilitate the request.    
  • Key players – every company has rain makers and movers and shakers. As a bare minimum you should know who they are.

Create a networking plan

  1. Identify some internal networking priorities. Who should you connect with and why? Be clear how you can help them.
  2. Arrange one networking meeting a week, whether lunch or coffee, to get a better understanding of their function and their challenges.
  3. Remember you are not asking for anything other than knowledge transfer. Finding out how they spend their day, who they interact with, what are their goals and problems. This is all helpful information.

If your career focus is within your current company, an internal network is not just helpful – it is indispensable. You won’t be able to get ahead if no one knows who you are.

Building relationships is crucial for success in your organisation. 3Plus can help you 

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3Plus, 3Plus online e-Gazine for professional women, Networking, Skill building, Workplace
Staff Writer: Career
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