Why you’ve got to network at work. (Seriously.)
A few months ago I started a new job at a global company, 10,000+ workers strong. The big leagues! Instant brand recognition! It’s a far cry from the small startups and ~50 person organizations I’ve been with for most of my career. I was feeling ready to test out those small-fish-big-pond waters.
As I continue to learn the ropes of working within a constantly changing, insanely complex org structure, I’ve been surprised by how much networking I’m still doing.
Somehow I thought I’d leave it behind when I left the realm of the demi-employed freelancer. Strangely enough, networking has become more essential to me in this job than ever. Here’s why.
Silos are inevitable. Bust ‘em up.
It’s just a fact. When your organization involves teams around the world, you’ve got silos. The work you do could get handed off to somebody on another campus you’ll never meet. Good luck tracking them down.
Because of this, it’s important to build bridges, everywhere you can. Nobody’s going to do it for you. Anytime you can get coffee with somebody in another department or jump in on an unusual project is a huge opportunity to learn more about how the organization works, and how you can work smarter.
There will always be hidden dependencies—things that would have been great to know at the beginning of the project. Head them off at the pass by having frequent conversations with folks you don’t see every day.
Bonus: You never know which tidbit of info will make you look crazy smart in your next meeting.
Missing puzzle pieces are everywhere
Just because a company is huge and profitable doesn’t mean they’ve got all their processes sorted out. There can be a hefty amount of chaos, masked only by many layers of approval and a prayer.
The other week, I learned who my approver for a major project is in an unconventional way. I peed in the restroom next to the right person. (REALLY.) We chatted as we washed our hands, and I realized that the project managers had left out a large swath of the marketing team.
This is one reason why remote work might not work as beautifully as we’d all hope. It’s these little, casual interactions that make things hum (or prevent disaster).
It’s how you get work…and make a great impression
If you’re working in a creative capacity, you might have times where you’re low on work. WIth nobody filling up your calendar minute-to-minute, down times will happen.
I’ve found that the best way to keep busy and to build relationships is to ask the people around you, “Is there anything I can help you with?”
It’s OK to signal when you’re available. It doesn’t communicate that you’re lazy or not working hard or that your position is on the chopping block (hopefully!) It’s not only normal, it’s nice. Not a lot of people do this.
By offering help, I get to work across the company in new and exciting ways. I get to work on different brands, and get insight into what each is doing.
My offers to help are sure to stick with my coworkers. I’ve gotten cool projects out of the deal, and extra visibility. I want to be top-of-mind once there’s an exciting project coming down the line. Asking to help is a surefire way to get there.