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Whether your question is where do I get the stationery or what does the MD think of X, having a good network can help you get noticed and progress your career. New joiners in particular need to work hard at getting to know the right people when joining a new organisation. Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Director in Charge of the Institute of Consulting, gives some tips.
A strong and wide network of colleagues not only helps you develop a greater understanding of the context in which you are working, it can help you both achieve personal goals and also fulfil your role effectively.
For new joiners developing a network can be a daunting task, but planning ahead and taking a systematic approach can help you get connected quickly to the right people; increasing your influence and ultimately, helping you develop your career. Here are our top-five tips on how to develop your own network:
First impressions count. Even if your new role involves asking difficult questions and challenging the status quo, it is important to do so in the right way and at the right time without alienating your new colleagues. Give people time to get used to you, be open-minded, approachable and forthcoming and take time to adapt to your new office environment and colleagues. Indeed, a friendly yet professional stance will help you earn respect in the office.
While it is likely that the majority of your network will be made up of your immediate peers, grow your network by connecting with people at all levels, from shop floor to senior management and in other teams and departments. Your network shouldn’t stop at the doors of your office. By broadening your network through the different social and work circles, you can significantly increase your reach and influence.
In most organisations a relatively small number of people tend to know many others within the organisation. These natural ‘connectors’ have large networks of their own and link groups within the organisation to each other. Identifying and connecting with these natural networkers is an excellent way of expanding your network.
You should always be maintaining or developing your network. Building a network as a new joiner is of course important, but once you’ve settled in and established yourself, don’t let up! If you don’t continue to put effort into building connections with people your network will atrophy, reducing its effectiveness. A strong network can lead to career and development opportunities in your current role and beyond.
Give others access to your connections, when you come into a new organisation your existing contacts may be unknown to your new colleagues. Be generous with your network, and help your new colleagues grow their own connections through you – by doing so you’ll find them only too happy to reciprocate.
Plan ahead when thinking about your networking activity, look for mutually beneficial relationships and demonstrate that you have something to offer to the groups you are seeking to join.
Many people view networking with trepidation, but the benefits of building a strong network are both huge and long-lasting – so what are you waiting for? Get connected!