After you have successfully completed a job search, your days of professional networking are not over. In fact, internal networking — especially right from the start — is key to maintaining the upward trajectory of your career. Here’s how to successfully launch your networking campaign at a new job.
When you start a new job, you want people to see you as someone who makes things happen, so networking is important from the get-go. But given your status as a new employee, your internal networking should be carefully calibrated. Soon after you start a job, you’ve got to increase your visibility without seeming self-important.
Even early on, your network needs to go beyond your neighboring coworkers. But where should you begin? Start your networking with people who started the same job you currently have before you did – say, about a year before you. They are the ones who will tell you how you’re going to be measured.
Next, seek out people with more clout. These are the people doing the big stuff every day, and you have to figure out who they are and whether you can — or want to — become one.
When you’re new on the job, you want to make a lot of contacts fairly quickly while also building your reputation as a hard worker — but you don’t want to be the person who’s hanging out at everyone’s cubicle. Take advantage of opportunities that occur during lunch or other moments of downtime. Be mindful of your colleagues’ schedules, so that you do not become a nuisance. The period before work starts or during a coffee break is a good time to approach people to pick their brains.
It is also important to extend your network beyond your department or division. Look for opportunities to branch out. For example, you could volunteer to serve on a cross-functional team. Meeting regularly with people from other departments is an ideal way to network and learn about other aspects of the business.
Especially when you are a new team member, a mentor can be a great help in extending the upward reach of your internal network. There are usually a handful of people who set the tone of the company’s value system. It’s good to have one of them as your mentor, as they’ll be someone who can help prepare you for your next step in the organization. But tread carefully: if you are creating a mentor relationship outside your immediate manager, you have to let your manager know.
Finally, most of your internal networking efforts should be low-key and informal. Although networking is important, many other priorities will compete for your attention in. Don’t let networking distract you from your actual professional obligations.