Networking is more than just building your followers on Twitter or beefing up your contacts on LinkedIn—and it isn’t just limited to social media. In fact, internal networking within one’s organization is as important as building an external network, allowing you to create rapport with and learn from the people you don’t work with every day.
While managers tend to have more opportunities to network outside their departments, most employees don’t. That’s why leaders need to play a larger role in encouraging employees to network. Consider these ways to do so:
Stop relying on after-hours social events. For many employees, particularly married employees and parents, happy hours and dinners don’t work for their lifestyles. They’ll forgo them so they can get home to their families.
Turn to in-office networking events. Lengthen lunch break times, plan on- or off-site lunches or arrange an afternoon coffee break for the organization. Even short 30-minute breaks give people a chance to connect.
Don’t frown on chit chat sessions. Most managers are quick to put an end to “water cooler” sessions and casual conversations at work. If the small talk isn’t hurting productivity or quality, allow it to happen.
Welcome social media—within reason. Often thought of as a huge time waster, social media can help employees learn about and communicate with one another. Again, don’t ban it unless it becomes problematic.
— Adapted from “How to Encourage Networking That Boosts Company Culture,” Gary Beckstrand, Entrepreneur, www.entrepreneur.com.