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Looking Inside… Networking Internally - by Monique Dearth Honaman
Looking Inside… Networking Internally
By Monique A. Dearth — ExecuNet CareerSmart Advisor
man approached me as I finished a keynote presentation on the
importance of personal networking and exposure in the workplace. He
told me he was living proof that people need to spend time developing
their connections inside work just as much as they develop their
external connections with clients and prospective customers. It turns
out that he had recently been downsized from his organization, where he
was a field sales leader. He prided himself on a strong work ethic and
the fact that his customers loved him, but he was a virtual unknown
within the walls of his own company. When he was cut, his immediate
manager told him that he just didn’t have enough top-level support or
sponsorship within the organization: people didn’t know who he was!
books and articles have been written about the importance of external
networking. We focus on building those “business card exchanging”
opportunities where we have opportunity after opportunity to deliver
our perfectly rehearsed elevator speech in hopes of making the ultimate
connection with someone who turns out to be the next big client. I
speak frequently about the importance of having all the pieces of the
P.I.E. — Performance, Image and Exposure. Of course, exposure is your
personal visibility and branding program that encompasses both external
and internal networking.
What about the importance of
networking internally? Networking not to land your next big client and
close that big sale, but networking to develop your reputation and
become a known entity within your own organization. I’m talking about
the kind of networking that builds your brand in an organization and
develops your sponsors. I’m talking about building connections with
people who will go to bat for you and always give you sage advice. I’m
talking about building the kinds of relationships that will create
long-term opportunities and open doors that might otherwise stay
We heavily focus on external networking...
participating in network groups, sales groups, trade shows,
associations, and the like, but are we paying so much attention to
external networking to the detriment of not being networked enough
internally? I challenge you to take a look at your calendar. How many
times in the last month have you scheduled time to attend a lunch
meeting to get to know people associated with a trade group or a
networking group in which you are involved? More importantly, how much
time have you dedicated to getting to know people within your own
office? Are these numbers different, and if so, why?
Benefits of Building an Internal Network
building your internal network and developing some sponsors has
benefits beyond just keeping your name off a reduction-in-force list.
Think about it. We all know the benefit of a referral. Whether it’s
looking for a new restaurant, or going to see a movie, we typically
prefer to act on someone else’s recommendation. Knowing that someone
else vouches for a particular restaurant or movie makes us more likely
to try that referral.
The same is true in the people game. The
more people who know you, the more internally networked you are, the
better chance you have of being connected into opportunities,
situations and projects that you might otherwise not be aware of. The
more people who know you, the better your chances of having new
opportunities and experiences brought your way.
It is not
simply the quantity of people with whom you are networked that is
important; rather, the quality of this network is just as critical. If
a large number of people know you, and they all think of you as
selfish, arrogant and dishonest, then it seems obvious that your
internal network will work against you. It is critical as you build
your internal network — which is really building your reputation — that
it is built upon a solid foundation of values.
Strategies for Building an Internal Network
networking is also different from the proverbial brown-nosing. Internal
networking must be altruistic. No one wants to feel they are being
schmoozed for some other person’s gain. Just as with external
networking, and perhaps even more importantly, internal networking has
to be sincere. It has to occur with the intent to build a symbiotic
relationship. No one appreciates feeling used, and that kind of
approach is often easy to see through.
Internal networking is
not simply an “upstream” maneuver. With rapid change as a cornerstone
in the workplace today, it is smart to network yourself across all
spans — up, down and across — within your own department and across
functional lines. As quickly as things change in the name game, it’s
important to not become known as an individual who only manages up at
the detriment of building relationships across and down.
the most important strategy for successful internal networking is to
cast a wide net. In today’s turbulent economic times, it would be silly
to place all of your money in a single investment. Similarly, in
today’s turbulent workplace, it would be silly to rely on one or two
key relationships while ignoring the nourishment and development of
others. We cannot become complacent in continuing to build our network.
It’s dangerous to have the mindset of being able to coast in
the challenge of internal networking simply because of a comfort level
with whom you are already networked. It’s amazing how many times I have
seen leaders on a fast track suddenly fall off that track, leaving
their network gasping for air, and trying to figure out what just
happened. Their support team is gone in an instant, and suddenly they
are an unknown. Their sponsorship, their inside track, has just ended.
The adage, “out of sight, out of mind” is true. We
need to ensure that we make internal networking a key part of our work
ethic. It is not something that just happens. To develop properly, it
takes focus, a commitment of time, and the desire to build meaningful
Five Strategies for Successful Internal Networking
- Both quantity and quality are important.
- Be meaningful and intentional. No one likes to be used.
- Networking down and across is as critical as networking up.
- Cast a wide net. Don’t limit yourself to a few key relationships.
- Make time for internal networking. It should be an intended action.
Last Updated 4 Year(s) ago
Keywords By-lined articles Monique Honaman