By Nisa Chitakasem, creator of the 135 Networking Career Tips eBook and founder of career consultancy, Position Ignition.
A lot of us consider networking to only be a way of finding a new job or attracting external interest to our current employer. We don’t really consider how powerful networking can also be actually within the workplace. We all want to have influence at work, although the degree to which each of us wants this varies, of course. Networking with our colleagues, superiors and subordinates is a great way of consolidating and increasing our workplace influence.
So, how do we network with people we already see most days and know well? Well, we may think we know them, but do we really understand them? The more we make the effort to understand what makes our colleagues tick, the more successful we’ll be in connecting with them. Get to really know someone and their motivations by asking them questions about how their work is going and offering your help so you can spend more time around them. You may even ask if you can work-shadow them for a few hours or a day. By showing an interest in our colleagues, we not only learn more about what goes on inside their heads, but we also earn their trust and respect.
However, it doesn’t matter how much time you spend with someone if you aren’t real with them. Just as you ask them questions, be prepared to answer their questions—and answer them honestly. Get rid of all the management speak and office politics so many of us are prone to indulge in. Networking doesn’t work unless you’re genuine with it and workplace networking is no exception. Transparency is one of the single most important issues in today’s business world, and being transparent with the people you work with will earn you more leverage than you can ever imagine.
Of course, it’s unrealistic to expect everyone at work to always get on swimmingly well with one another.
Although you desire more influence at work and more recognition for your achievements, do not make this into a competition. Real networking isn’t about working against everyone else’s goals and dreams in order to promote your own. Real networking is about sharing your aims with others and supporting them as they try to achieve theirs. Working in an organisation is, after all, about the team effort. The more willing you are to buy into the ethic of teamwork, the more your star will rise.
Of course, it’s unrealistic to expect everyone at work to always get on swimmingly well with one another. There are going to be times when one or more of you are seriously stressed out. There will be times when misunderstandings or mistakes or errors of judgement set the whole team back. There may be times when people are looking to shift the blame to a scapegoat. Don’t let these tough times permanently upset the relationships you’ve worked hard to develop. When a potentially troublesome situation arises, be upfront about what’s going on and what needs to be done. This will encourage other people to do the same.
Once you’ve become a successful workplace networker, you’ll see your influence within the organisation begin to grow. And if you use this growing influence in the right ways, this can only benefit both your career and your employer.
By Nisa Chitakasem, Founder of Position Ignition, the UK’s leading Career Consulting Company, and co-author of the popular 135 Networking Career Tips eBook. Nisa co-founded Position Ignition to provide career consulting to people looking for guidance and support through their career change, new career direction, job search and career development.
ou can see our list of workshops and webinars for the first half of this year here on the WeAreTheCity Events Calendar
You can also see our list of eBooks here: http://www.positionignition.com/eBooks