WorkHuman Wednesday: Rethink Internal Company Networking

August 19, 2015

by Traci Pesch

Recognize This! – Rubbing elbows with management at company outings might not get you as far as making friends with your coworkers.

Summer is the season for company outings. A company-wide trip to the amusement park or a community service event. These outings are meant to create bonds with colleagues who usually don’t have the time or opportunity to meet or socialize. There are some who view these outings as an opportunity to let loose and have a day of fun. There are also those who view these outings as the chance to connect with management for career gain.

I’m not against making friends with management—though I think managers should be accessible enough in the workplace that a party isn’t the only chance to spot one.

I just believe one chance meeting is not the most likely way to propel your career. What if you could use these parties as both a chance to make friends and forward your career?

Whether you’re being strategic about making connections at these company outings or not, be sure to mix business with pleasure. Make friends. The vast majority (89%) of US employees said work relationships mattered to their quality of life, according to the Fall 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker survey.

Make genuine friendships with all kinds of coworkers. After company social events, bring your coworker friendships back to your work and your workplace.

If you want to gain the attention of management, that ephemeral once-a-year meet and greet has a low chance of making an impression. Being a consistent fixture in successful projects? That’s how you get noticed.

Strengthening and reaffirming those relationships with peers/colleagues  at work just makes sense. If you’re friends with coworkers across the organizations, then you talk to and know a lot about those around you. These many different kinds of friends want to work with you on projects; or share ideas, perspectives, and expertise. You should share your ideas, as well. This isn’t a one-way street. You actually net better results and higher productivity when you’re a team player. Look for ways to work across departments and familiarize yourself with new concepts. As you consistently show up in collaborative teams producing innovative, successful projects, you will really gain the eye of management. You will also have made strides for your own department’s goals and projects by thinking outside the box. Your department’s projects will be enriched by collaborations that involve this cross-pollination of ideas and expertise.

On another note, you will have also gained more friends. Part of how we WorkHuman is having friends at work. Friends who look out for your best interests (as you look out for them) speed you up. And, you can have more fun, too. You can still get noticed if you’re in a team. Even if you don’t head the group, you can spearhead the project and be a catalyst as a team player.

As Mark Sanborn says, “You don’t need a title to be a leader.” Internal strategic networkers are essential because they value the humanity in their coworkers, are team players, and further employee engagement. Companies are better for them. If management is also being strategic, they will notice and reward collaborative employees.

How much do you know about those across your office? How much are you helping them? Are you having fun with your coworkers? Does your company’s management recognize the value of friendships at work? Who’s your best friend at work?

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