"John, Congratulations! See what Mr. Big is up to... You and Mr. Big are now connected...."
Sound familiar? So what's the big deal? Is this just another time-waster, narcissistic activity?
Or do "connected" people really have an advantage at work? What's a "relevant" or "real connection" anyway?
The real answer is that a "connection" is nothing more than a real relationship. And it takes time, authenticity and a willingness to give, to build a real relationship. The fact is, people who are more truly "connected" seem to get lucky, land on their feet more often in times of great chaos, and adapt to major changes more easily. Why is that? How can you get some of that goodness and "insurance" for yourself?
Here we are back at the home office. Dead of Winter. Deep in projects and racing towards “Q2” numbers and deadlines. Do you have time to spend on networking? Why bother? You’re not in “sales” and you don’t have that “extroverted personality” that seems to thrive on networking. And besides, you are too busy on your deadlines and projects for anything that “squishy” and non-core to your work.
Here’s the news flash: You can’t afford to stay as isolated and heads-down as you’ve been. But how can you start? Especially if you’re more “introverted” than not.
If you’re constantly expanding your network of colleagues and relationships at work, you are in good company. 58% of those across the WorkersCount community report that they make a concerted effort to reach out to others at work. Why should this matter?
It matters because expanding your circle of colleagues makes you a stronger team member in your core group or department. How? You have access and relationships with others outside of your team. This makes you a “connector” -which is a valuable and powerful role to play. It makes you much more aware of the bigger picture at your company, and again it makes you a much more valuable team member when you “see the whole field” –instead of just your small section of the world.
Most importantly, it makes you a “known quantity” outside of your core working group or department. This is really important when you start to think about lateral or other changes inside the company (or outside). You also start to build a wider reputation outside of your company as these “extended network” co-workers depart to other companies. You are at the top of their minds, should a need for someone like you arise there. And that’s always a great phone call to receive!
Here’s a great way to get started. Make it a point to volunteer for projects that involve cross-functional or cross-organization teams. This will force you to meet others outside of your core role and group. You can start to build real relationships working together. You’ll learn more about their world (if you ask) and you’ll build credibility and trust with them as you work together. You add to your “connections” and network without doing much outside of your comfort zone. Consistently offer to provide valuable insight about your “side of the world” to your new colleagues, and they will likely do the same. You will find that you start to be “requested” on these team projects and you are more valued in your own group as someone with “understanding” of the greater picture.
You don't need hundreds or thousands of contacts to make this work. You may only need a dozen or two to make your network effective. Building a wider network isn’t necessarily hard work. It’s a little bit of work done consistently over time. Keep volunteering for those projects. Keep meeting people and offering to add value. Keep putting them in your contact list and staying in touch via LinkedIn, Facebook, by following them on twitter or internally. Send them good ideas, articles and other valuable insights whenever you can, to show them that you understand their world and are offering something valuable. This will make you a “connector” and build a wider external reputation.
This is how you assemble your parachute. So that if the plane you’re flying in develops engine trouble (for any reason), you have more options and a great network to help you out.
By staying active in the WorkersCount community you can find where people like you thrive, and where they struggle. From insights like that, you can call on your network (be it large or small) and get help to find the right place for you. And we hope you also reach out to help others find their "best place" if you're happy and excited about where you've landed.
It's paying-it-forward time.
Come check-in at WorkersCount today. Vote your sentiment. Make your voice heard. Drive a better workplace for you and for your peers at your company and others.
Your voice counts.