Get out there! Whether to strengthen relationships with colleagues (or to drum up new business prospects), we're told endlessly that we need to get out there and network. Many of us dread the activity - yet understand how vital it is for us to build relationships in the workplace (whether to increase sales, move up the corporate ladder or simply, to increase our workplace happiness).
According research conducted by the Society For Human Resource Management (SHRM) (2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: Revitalizing a Changing Workforce) 31 percent of surveyed employees said networking opportunities in the workplace were very important (yet, only 23 percent indicated in their survey responses that they were very satisfied with the networking opportunities offered). Networking may only have been ranked as very important by 31 percent of respondents, yet as an activity the builds stronger human relationships it underlies a number of the key engagement conditions identified in the SHRM survey:
- Career advancement opportunities (47% very important / 24% satisfied)
- Teamwork within department/business unit (43% very important / 26% satisfied)
- Relationship with immediate supervisor (53% very important / 40% satisfied)
- Immediate supervisor's respect for employee's ideas (49% very important / 37% satisfied)
- Relationship with co-workers (40% very important / 36% satisfied)
Increasing the number of networking opportunities in the workplace doesn't require you to leave your desk - or fill your calendar with awkward business lunches, informational coffee dates with management or attending every single company cocktail party. As I share in my book Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In A Hyper-Connected World successful networking requires understanding the immense power of regular daily activities to connect with someone else. In the workplace, this someone else means your immediate supervisor, members of your team, co-workers and senior management.
A checklist of new networking ideas to get you started on strengthening relationships at workplace without cluttering your calendar:
- Update your e-mail signature line to reflect your current title, department and office location.
- Re-record your voice-mail message.
- Check the accuracy of your profile on the company website (and think about updating your headshot too).
- Arrive 5 minutes early for your next all-hands meeting (and choose a different place to sit as well).
- Send a follow-up note to a colleague who has helped you in the past. Hearing how their guidance has continued to help you in your career will go a long way in deepening the relationship.
These may appear small (micro networking actions) however, how consistently you present yourself in any of these "little networking in the workplace encounters" may just be the key to better relationships at work.