Rajesh is a very successful sales manager. He is known as a people’s person and is highly spoken of by both his team and his customers. His biggest strength is managing relationships and building trust with his team and customers. This has got him ample success in the market space he operates in. At the same time Rajesh struggles to use this strength of building relationships within the organisation. Apart from his immediate team and manager not too many people know him well. More importantly not too many career influencers in the organisation know him. Rajesh sometimes feels that he may be missing out on opportunities because of this. He knows he needs to spend more time and effort on internal networking as but at the same time he felt unsure of whether he really wants to do it.
Why internal networking is important
- Helps open up opportunities: Internal networking helps an individual make the most of the opportunities available in an organisation. People prefer to hire people they know. Connecting well with people across the organisation and outside your immediate team will also help you get your work done faster. When you take on a new or higher role knowing the people you are working with helps establish your leadership faster. Apart from this the longterm effect would be that when you need to move organisations people who have worked with you and are elsewhere will be happy to hire you.
- Builds a strong work environment: People who are strong at internal networking give others in the organisation a sense of belonging. People like to come to work when they feel they have a connect with the people they work with.
- Helps the organisation get the benefits of a persons skills: When you network internally you help the organisation ensure that they are getting the best out of you and your skills. All too often organisations(especially large ones) end up hiring people from outside in spite of having the same skills available internally.
What stops people from internal networking?
- Thinking it is a time waster: A lot of people assume that internal networking is a waste of time and meant for people who have”no work”. Nothing can be further from the truth. There is a difference between gossip and connecting with someone. Getting to know people and building relationships with them requires effort and intent that is bigger than idle talk.
- Not my job: In Rajesh’s case he found that he was excellent in connecting with customers and networking outside the organisation because he saw it as part of his job. At the same time he saw internal networking as not necessary for the job. Given the context and importance of internal networking he was able to move his thinking and start building relationships internally.
- Makes me a suck up: Often people feel that building relations with people higher up in the hierarchy is about sucking up to them. There are indeed people who do that and are generally not appreciated for it by most. On the other hand takes a lot more for people to trust you. When you think networking, think more about adding value to the other person rather than general conversation.
Obscurity is rewarded only in Heaven. To succeed in this world you have to be known to people. -Sonia Sotomayor
If internal growth is important to you then internal networking cannot be ignored. Approach it from the perspective of getting to know more and more people and building good relationships through the organisation. Look at how you can benefit others instead of looking at what you can get from them. Let people know what you are good at, what you enjoy and what you would like to learn. Look also at how you can use your skills to help and support others. The rules of internal networking are the same as any other relationship building and networking process. Genuine interest in the other person and the intent to support others goes a long way in building good will.
Before you become successful at internal networking a good start would be to make it a priority.