Networking in the Workplace: Collecting the Low-Hanging Fruit

Effective networking usually takes a certain amount of effort, but there are some situations where there are plenty of opportunities and it would be a pity to waste them. One is when you are studying -- former classmates form a solid core of your network if you handle it correctly -- and the other is your workplace.
Unless you work alone you are potentially in contact regularly with tens, hundreds or even thousands of people. How many of these people do you know well enough to ask for help? How many of them even know who you are?
Working with other people is an outstanding opportunity to get to know people. Don't just connect to everyone you hear about on LinkedIn because this has very little value. Focus instead of building a reputation for being helpful and trustworthy. This is actually much simpler than it sounds and consists of three basic activities.
Networking in your workplace is not just about collecting contact information. This has essentially zero value. What you should be doing is convincing people that you are a good person to work with, so that one day in the future they might think of you, or at least when you contact them they will have a positive memory of you.
Meet people. One of the most common mistakes is to spend nearly all of your time with the same people. You can just walk right up to people and introduce yourself but the easiest way to get to know more people is organically through opportunities like volunteering for activities which involve working with new people. Make good use of other opportunities that come up by themselves, like using public transport or signing up for training with people from other departments. 
Build trust. Meeting people isn't enough by itself. You also have to build a relationship of trust. This is much easier than it sounds because all you have to do is keep your promises and be helpful to other people. Keep your eyes and ears open. When someone asks for help or obviously needs help try to at least point them towards the answer. Maybe you can't help them directly but even suggesting who might know is still help and will be appreciated. Accept offers of help, too, because that also builds trust.
Build a platform. Once people know you and trust you, there is still one other thing that you have to do. They will never think of coming to you in future unless they know what you can do, what you do well and what you would like to do. This means that you have to develop a real-world reputation or platform that is solid and memorable. What do other people know about you? What are you doing to correct that? Reflect on what you want people to think and then on what you are doing now. Make sure that the two are aligned and if they are not it is time for some corrective action.
Ideally you should have a network that extends well beyond your existing workplace, but as you move through your career the relationships you built in previous workplaces will form a solid backbone to your network -- and probably the easiest to acquire.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing
For lectures, workshops, coaching and writing about professional networking, influencing, speaking and more you can contact Andrew Hennigan at speaker@andrewhennigan.com or by phone on 0046 730 894 475.

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