Do you want to up your game? To get better projects and higher quality work? To win promotions and titles and money and respect? Of course you do. And networking, yes networking, plays a major role in that whether you are working independently or in a company. It’s not just for freelancers chasing a new client – even when you have a staff job you surely are working with groups or teams in a more or less corporate structure – and you have to be networking.
To do well and get better at what you do within the organization involves more than just keeping your head down and doing your thing. You need to know what is going on in the firm so you can position yourself for your own personal career growth. There is an essential social and integrated component to a workplace that can squeeze you out if you don’t get on top of it. There is always competition – much of it healthy – but if you don’t know what’s happening you can be blindsided. So getting around in the organization, talking to people who know people, feeling out what is happening and what the mood is and who is rising and who is falling is the basis of your managing your own situation.
You need to manage the people who report to you of course. I have written on this here.
You also need to be managing up – to your boss and your boss’s boss. What are they looking for – so you can give them what they need to succeed and make yourself indispensable in so doing. Frame their needs so that they match yours and you can grow and succeed together. Present your work and pet projects in such a way that they are in sync with their POV so they will support and encourage them.
Equally importantly you need to be managing across. Your relationships with your peers in other groups or departments are sometimes the most significant ones in your ability to get your projects moved forward. Whether you need their active support or their contributions or whether you need to calculate how you can advance to your goals without bumping into others who maybe are coming at a similar prize from a slightly different direction. You will likely find that with the help of your peers you can get where you want to go much quicker.
So this all starts with networking. Get to know them all. Understand their needs and their passions, their hopes and the challenges they are facing. Make some deposits in the favor bank and build up the credit that will help you get to where you want to be.