Internal Networking: Why It's Time for Cross-Cubicle Convos

What comes to mind when you hear the word “networking”? You might think about mingling at industry events, exchanging business cards, and connecting with external contacts on LinkedIn.

However, an equally crucial yet often overlooked aspect of networking happens within the walls of our workplace. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

Internal networking — the art of building meaningful relationships with colleagues, supervisors, and team members — holds a transformative power that can be a game-changer for your career, and is important for success both in the short and long term. It's about fostering a sense of community, collaboration, and mutual support – with benefits you can't ignore.

So, why invest in building work relationships within your office itself? Let's explore the top 10 reasons why internal networking is important.

1. Foster Knowledge-Sharing

Tap into the collective expertise of your colleagues with different skill sets. Need insights on a project you’re unfamiliar with? Reach out to someone in another department – their unique perspective or subject-matter know-how could be your missing piece. Networking internally encourages the sharing of skills, knowledge, and best practices, ultimately enriching your and the entire team's expertise.

2. Create Collaborative Magic

Strong relationships promote trust and open communication, making teamwork smoother and more effective. When people are more familiar with each other, it becomes easier to work together on projects and share insights. Activities such as brainstorming sessions can become collaborative triumphs, not silent struggles. This, in turn, increases productivity and positive business outcomes.

3. Launch Up the Career Ladder

Internal networking can serve as your personal career accelerator. The more people you know (and know you) in the office, the higher your chances of getting noticed by potential mentors and the top leadership. You could also be among the first to hear about opportunities for development or more senior positions within the organisation that might not be advertised externally, and land your dream promotion. 

4. Boost Personal Growth and Learning 

From informal coffee chats to knowledge-sharing working lunches, internal networking keeps you at the forefront of industry trends and company developments. Besides aiding your professional trajectory, interacting with a diverse range of colleagues can also do wonders to inspire personal growth, expanding your perspective and skills beyond what directly applies to your role.

5. Build a Positive Workplace Culture

Positive work relationships make your job more enjoyable – and really, who doesn’t want that? When you feel connected to your colleagues, it boosts morale and reduces stress. Feeling “seen” and valued in the workplace can significantly increase job satisfaction, a great motivator that can inspire you to challenge your own limits and produce your best work yet. 

6. Ignite Innovation

When diverse perspectives come together, creativity thrives. Internal networking paves the way to closer collaboration across departments, sparking innovative solutions and the Next Big Thing. You might be passing up on major success simply by not connecting with the right people at your workplace who have been there all along. So, go on – strike up that conversation.

7. Promote Employee Retention 

Solid employee relationships lead to lower turnover. Employees are more likely to stay on with a company that has a stable and thriving work environment contributed in no small part by a sense of connection between peers. When the workforce is engaged and team relations are strong, employee retention tends to be high, reducing the need to train new joiners and maintaining a consistent work output in terms of both quality and quantity.

8. Strengthen Trust and Support

With internal connections that transcend departments, expertise, and rank, you are well positioned to have a supportive network that provides help and guidance during challenging times. In times of professional setbacks, you are likely to have “cheerleaders” backing you up and trading tips and solutions to get you back on track. Nurturing work relationships the right way can grant you this type of invaluable support, so start today.

9. Create a Sense of Belonging

Feeling like you belong at work isn't just good for your mental health. It supercharges your commitment to your role and your team, taking you from strength to strength. When you feel supported and that you belong, it renews your sense of purpose and allows for improved focus, creativity, and strategic thinking. After all, no man is an island. 

10. Facilitate Adaptability

A strong internal network provides the resources and support needed to adjust to changes swiftly and efficiently. Disruptive tech throwing you a curveball? Tap into your network for insider tips from subject-matter experts. Project priorities doing a 180°? Timely advice from your network can help you navigate the changes more confidently. This interconnectedness ensures that you are not left to face changes alone.

Now, what must you do to be able to harness the benefits of building relationships at the workplace? Here are 6 simple yet powerful strategies for internal networking.

1. Start Small

Begin by getting to know your immediate colleagues better. Invite them for coffee, chat during your lunch break, or simply engage in friendly conversation whenever you see them.

2. Seek Out Mentorship 

Identify individuals whose careers you admire and consider them potential mentors. Reach out, express your interest in learning from them, and start building a genuine connection.

3. Join Company Initiatives

Participate in employee resource groups, volunteer programmes, or social events. These are fantastic opportunities to connect with people outside your immediate team. 

4. Offer Your Expertise

Share your knowledge and skills with others. Offer to lead training sessions, mentor junior colleagues, or collaborate on interdepartmental projects.

5. Be a Connector

Identify colleagues with complementary skills and introduce them to each other. Fostering connections within your network strengthens the entire ecosystem. Remember to do so through clear and open communications. 

6. Be a Positive Force

Spread kindness, offer support, and actively listen to your colleagues. Genuine relationships are built on respect and empathy. Recognise and appreciate your colleagues' efforts so that you can foster an environment of gratitude and respect.

Making Connections Makes Sense

Internal networking is not just about advancing your career; it's about enriching your work and personal life in many ways. Building trust and solidifying professional relationships takes time and effort, but you stand to reap its many benefits not only in your current role, but also future endeavours.

By building strong, supportive relationships at work, you open yourself up to fresh opportunities, learning, and personal growth. Remember: you are not alone in your workplace. Leverage the power of internal networking to tap into your full potential, build a fulfilling career, and create a positive and productive work environment for everyone.

With some initiative and the tips in this article, you can turn your office into a place of powerful connections, support, and career-boosting opportunities. Go forth and build your internal networking skills — your future self will thank you.