The balancing act of internal networking and its importance to your career

A lot of people don’t realise how much of an impact effective internal networking can have on progressing within a company or securing your next contract opportunity.

Not only is internal networking significant to achieving your own career goals, it can also play a big part in overall job satisfaction and daily sanity.

Typically, in a working day, we spend more waking time with our work colleagues than we do our friends and family and therefore the relationships we build at work have a big impact on our daily happiness.

Quality of work is obviously a big contributor to progressing to the next level or securing your next contract, however you’d be surprised at how much likeability comes into play.

The key to achieving likeability and developing strong internal relationships in the workplace is BALANCE:

  • B – building relationships gradually – not everyone works in the same way as you and it is important to be aware of that in the workplace. It can take time to understand how certain colleagues like to work and how to get the best from them, and often, the key to achieving the desired reaction/work output is your approach. You can’t please everyone all the time, so there is a balancing act to this, however slightly tailoring your approach to better suit certain colleagues could see you get the desired outcome and strengthen your relationships with others in the office.
  • A – accountability and teamwork. Getting the balance right between your own accountability and that of others when working towards a team/business goal is important with how you are perceived in the office. There is a time to take charge and ownership of tasks, and there is a time to take a back seat and let others in the team shine. Being a team player is a huge part of building strong internal relationships and it is important that your contribution is seen as valuable, without you appearing to dominate or take over.
  • L – laughter / positivity – life would be very bland without fun and laughter, and yes you can have fun and be happy at work, whilst also remaining productive. Being able to have banter and a good laugh with colleagues is important, not only for developing stronger relationships with your colleagues, but also so you enjoy going to work each day. There is however a limit with having fun and banter at work, as you don’t want to find yourself being labelled as the “class clown” who is constantly distracting others. Remaining positive when things go wrong at work is also very important for how you are viewed by colleagues and is important for your own wellbeing. You can’t always be a ray of sunshine, as things do go wrong, however being able to look on the bright side, or being able to not allow a bad 5 minutes to turn into a bad day, will ensure people will want to be around you at work. There is nothing worse than waking up and dreading going into work, by having a laugh and remaining positive in the workplace, there will be something to look forward to in each day.
  • A – authenticity. It is difficult to build a relationship with anyone who you do not think is being genuine. Therefore, in order to strengthen relationships with your colleagues and build trust, it is important to ensure you are being authentic. There is obviously a balancing act to this, as I’m sure blurting out all the thoughts you have about your fellow colleagues won’t always go down well.
  • N – nice – it sounds simple (and quite obvious), however being kind and caring to the people you work with, at all levels, it’s important to how you are perceived in the office. Everyone plays a part in making a work environment operate effectively, and that includes all levels, from the cleaners to the CEO. Therefore, acknowledging and respecting everyone around you in a similar way is important.
  • C – communication / tone. We have all received or sent an email that hasn’t landed in the way it was intended, due to the words used and tone that is perceived. This can’t always be helped, however in most cases it can be. That goes for verbal communication as well, as I’m sure we’ve all said something in the workplace that we’ve reflected upon afterwards and thought perhaps our communication/tone wasn’t quite what we intended. Professional communication can be tricky to master, especially when you are frustrated and want to react in a way that HR would more than frown at. You don’t want to be constantly communicating in such a polite, inoffensive way that no one takes you seriously, however being mindful of your communication and tone, especially in situations where it has not gone down well previously, is important to your professional development and how successfully you build relationships with your colleagues.
  • E – expectation management. As the old saying goes, under promise and over deliver. This is extremely important with how you are perceived by your colleagues. It’s great to be positive and give people the answers they want to hear, however if you cannot deliver on the goods, it is much worse than if you just managed their expectations at the start. Balancing this is tricky, and there will be times you are unable to achieve what you thought was more than possible, however if these situations are few and far between (rather than a reoccurrence) you will be sure to gain and maintain the respect of your colleagues.

To sum up, achieving a good balance with how you build relationships, your accountability, having fun and remaining positive, being authentic and kind to your colleagues, your communication and how you manage expectations will ensure that you develop strong internal relationships, which in turn will help with your career development and daily wellbeing. In short – be the person you’d want to work with.