Whether you’re hoping to get promoted or hoping to be self-employed, get connected with the people you’re working with RIGHT NOW!
When I was first promoted to manager, one of the first things I did was I scheduled meetings with other managers at my level, and up one level, to learn about what they did, and how our teams interacted, and could better interact. The people I met shared some amazing things, and when I left the organization five years later, those people were still my friends and allies. I’ve done this with every job I’ve had since then, and it’s served me incredibly well. Networking inside my organization helped me even when I ventured out to run my own business a few times. These people have referred people to me, they’ve shared my updates with their friends that might need my help, and they’ve helped me find new opportunities in places where there was no visible opportunity.
What about you?
Do you want to get promoted or want to see if a new job is better for you?Are you hoping to one day start a business?
Take time to network inside your organization, and get to know people in your organization that you never talk to. Have a cup of coffee. Go for a walk. Or grab your phone or a Zoom room and just say hello. Find out what they do, who they are, what their hopes and dreams are.
Even if you’re shy, make it a habit to meet 1 new person a week. That’s 50 new people a year.
How do you meet with 1 new person a week?
Make a list
Write up the list of people you want to meet. Maybe you get to 100, maybe you only find 10, but make a list of those you want to meet. If you don’t know them well, see who you might know in their department, or who might know them, and ask for an introduction to them.
Schedule phone calls (yes, old school still works), Zoom meetings (eyeball to eyeball is wonderful) and in person meetings for just 25 minutes. Most people are super busy – but 25 minutes is time enough to get to know someone without seeming like a burden.
NOTE: If the meeting goes well, schedule another meeting – do NOT go over the allotted time in a first meeting, as the other person may not tell you they have another meeting, but they will remember that you didn’t respect their boundaries.
You may need to share about yourself first. Be open and share a few things of interest about yourself. Think about the questions you’re curious to learn about from them, and be ready to answer those about yourself.
Review the person’s LinkedIn profile and see if they post anything there. See if they are on Twitter or Instagram and look at a few recent posts. Do a Google search for them to see if they’ve been in the news, if they run 5Ks, or see if you can learn what they’ve done before their current role. If you don’t know much about what they do right now, say so, and ask them about it.
Ask deeper questions about these – and do let the person know you did your homework because you wanted to respect their time and get to know them as much as you could.
Write a handwritten thank you note after the fact. Mention one thing discussed in the conversation. Let them know how much you appreciate the time they shared with you.
This is a big one, and it’s the one I sadly often forget to do myself.
Get connected digitally
After the meeting, connect with them on LinkedIn (if they’re there) so you can keep up with them – and so they can keep up with you – in case of job changes, promotions, or new opportunities they have. Mention in the connection request something you shared in the meeting, both to let them know you value them but also so you can refer back to it in the future if you don’t talk to them for a while.
If you want to stay connected to this person, this connection will help you years down the road.
Start networking inside your organization now, before you need it. It’ll pay dividends for you for years to come.