When people think of networking, what usually comes to mind is networking online (e.g., via LinkedIn, email) or with people outside of their organization (say at a tradeshow or industry event). But what about internal networking? If you’ve never done it, you may be wondering what it is and how to do it.
Networking is what we do every day when we talk, text, email and meet new people with the purpose of sharing information. While external networking helps us grow our connections to professionals outside of our organization, networking with coworkers helps us grow and strengthen connections with professionals inside our organization – with the added benefit of increasing productivity and engagement internally. Internal networking is something many of us do naturally every day. Like external networking, internal networking is about building a group of people who know you and will help you if they can.
Although internal networking is talked about less, there are many advantages for both the employee and the organization.
Internal networking promotes:
- development of great ideas
- gathering insights into other functions within a company
- collecting industry information
- learning more about functional roles and open roles
- mentoring and career development
- collaboration between departments
The benefits of internal networking
For most professionals, external networking is a key way to discover career opportunities in new companies and industries. Internal networking follows the same idea, just internally: By asking the right questions of the right people within your organization, you can grow your career in your company. Engaging in casual conversation with members of your own organization will help you discover useful information (such as which certifications may be beneficial for your professional development), learn about new industry and business trends, generate new project ideas, gain details about upcoming product/service launches, discover company needs that may lead to role opportunities and get a better understanding of the company mission and vision.
For organizations, encouraging internal networking leads to lower rates of employee turnover because team members feel connected and tend to have a clearer picture of their organization’s purpose. Remember the saying, ‘what goes around comes around?’ Building mutually beneficial relationships can have a positive impact on individual career satisfaction and on the future of the organization.
How does internal networking help the employee?
Someone you already know or someone you could meet tomorrow from another department might be the critical linchpin in your success. Building on existing contacts and identifying and cultivating new associations is the key to career growth. It’s all about asking questions, offering help and maintaining mutually beneficial and ongoing communication within your network.
You never know what jobs are coming down the pipeline in a different business unit or when pursuing a new career path within your current organization may be an option. By networking internally, you can get your name in other people’s minds and help them understand your interests and goals.
In the future, there may be an open role that would be a perfect match for you. Even if you don’t have the specific qualifications, you’ll have made the connections and shown your ability to take initiative. If the hiring manager already has a good understanding of your passions and transferable skills, you’re well-positioned to be considered for job openings that may be just outside of your expertise, but for which you have the aptitude or interest.
How does internal networking help the organization?
Internal networking develops symbiotic relationships with coworkers and leads to a higher sense of empowerment and personal achievement – improving engagement and longevity with the company along the way. Without internal networking, it’s easier for employees to feel disconnected, which can cause performance issues and lead to talent searching for roles outside the organization.
Instead of losing employees to other organizations, HR leaders can use the power of cross-company social connections to help employees develop more passion and purpose in their work and a stronger connection to their colleagues. Engaged employees with sociable work environments boost the morale of their coworkers, encourage everyone around them and bring out the best in others. This can lead the organization to outperform competition across every business metric and gain that winning advantage.
Another way internal networking helps the organization is by cultivating satisfied employees who are so well connected and content within the company environment and culture that they’d rather not leave the organization at all. Even if there’s a layoff, companies that have a powerful internal network of employee evangelists may see a rise in boomerang employees. These are people who have left an organization only to return to work for that same employer. This isn’t just beneficial for the employee – who’s rehired based on previous experience and reputation – it’s also ideal for the organization because it’s more cost-effective and efficient to rehire someone with cultural knowledge and internal contacts than to hire someone who’s completely new.
‘When boomerang employees return, they bring legacy knowledge with them,’ explains RiseSmart Senior Practice Development Manager Kimberly Schneiderman. ‘In other words, they already know what the company is about, and on some level, they’re already on board with its mission. This historical knowledge can jumpstart the boomerang employee in their new role and make the hiring and onboarding processes much easier.’
Internal networking is all about conveying value through social relationships. Whether you are in HR or an employee, having internal social connections makes the environment more pleasant and increases the teamwork spirit – ultimately creating a better overall work experience and positive workplace culture.
Full article can be found on the Randstad RiseSmart website here.