Many people think about networking to get a job, but what do you do once you’ve got it? Spoiler alert: networking in the workplace is just as important as networking outside work! Done well, networking at work can be a boost to your career and a great way to build meaningful, professional relationships. Here are some tips and tricks to help you navigate networking opportunities in the workplace.
#1 – Keep it positive
Want to build a strong network in the workplace? Keep it positive. You should strive to develop a positive reputation for yourself as a hard worker and someone who always says yes to any task, big or small. Your work ethic and your attitude will be the reason that superiors come to you with additional opportunities and responsibilities – or don’t.
It’s easy to sit down at your desk, put your head down, and get straight to work in your own world, but going out of your way to build a positive reputation and good relationships with your coworkers is important.
On the flip side, you should never be negative. Though it may be tempting, you should not excessively complain to your coworkers or tell secrets. No one wants to be around a negative nancy, and words spread fast! You don’t want to develop a reputation as a complainer or burn any bridges with other coworkers — you never know who you may end up working with or working for. While developing friendships with your coworkers is natural, it’s vital that you don’t blur the line between your professional and personal relationships.
#2 – Find mentors in the office
Mentor relationships are all about quality, not quantity. When trying to establish a mentor-mentee relationship, you should find individuals who you admire both personally and professionally. Find people with a life or career you’d like to emulate, whether in your own career path or not. Having diverse mentors who can provide different perspectives on any issue is best.When meeting with your mentor, you should remember to always show up prepared for meetings, do your research, schedule things ahead of time, and stay in touch. You should have a clear agenda in mind, topics you’d like to talk about, and questions you’d like to ask. Mentor-mentee relationships are not a one-and-done, but they’re cultivated over many meetings. If you are asking someone to be your mentor, you should be prepared to listen, learn, and keep in touch.
#3 – Think outside of the box
While networking within your company is crucial, you should connect with people outside of your specific industry or company as well. It’s crucial to build your network not only with people in your direct field but also other young professionals, industry experts, and those in different lines of work — both within and outside of your own company!
If you work at a regional office, reach out to people in other ones. If you work in communications, reach out to someone in accounting. If you work in the private sector, reach out to someone at a nonprofit.
The NeW Professional Network is a prime example of this, as it brings together local conservative women for professional development sessions and leadership training. Additionally, you can join Facebook groups like Rules of Networking or LinkedIn groups and attend events run by young professional groups and nonprofits. You should always seek opportunities to join groups with similar interests, skill sets, or in the same industry.
Networking shouldn’t be thought of as a negative or a thing you regrettably have to do. Networking should be considered an exciting opportunity to interact with, develop, and deepen your social and professional contacts.
Kelley Babphavong is the NeW DC Professional Network Leader.