Recently, I’ve noticed clients asking for support in empowering staff to network internally with others at the organisation. These clients tend to be large organisations, or those where staff are working remotely.
The motivations I hear for wanting staff to network with each other are varied, including:
- We want staff to see how they can progress their careers within the organisation, by building strong internal relationships over time.
- We need our siloed teams to connect and feel like they belong to one community and under one overarching brand.
- We want staff to practice their networking skills and build their personal brands before they go out and build relationships with external stakeholders and audiences.
What is the difference between team-building and internal staff networking?
Programs to promote belonging, teamwork and psychological wellbeing are essential, particularly in large organisations… but they are not the same as internal networking.
The purpose of internal networking is to connect your staff to each other professionally, and help strengthen their professional confidence, professional relationships and career pathways within the organisation. It can be linked to peer mentoring or leadership programs, falling under the banner of HR and People Development… or the focus can be on strengthening how your people talk about the organisation and the brand, which brings it into the Marketing & Communications category. The work I do with organisations crosses over both of these.
Our approach to empowering internal networking
Because our focus is on how your people connect with and communicate the company brand, we create experiences with brand at the centre. Whether it’s a personal brand development program or a focus on developing team identities connected to the company’s purpose and values, staff are given guidance on how to communicate more clearly within and about the work they do. There are also embedded opportunities for staff to reflect on learning, plan goals and actions steps, and even share with other teams in the organisation.
Working with brand gives staff a common language to talk about the work they do, and this connects them and encourages confidence in networking with each other. Ensuring there is a ‘personal brand’ component means giving staff the opportunity to reflect on their own professional growth and what they want to achieve and be known for – not just in a broad sense but specifically with team members, managers, and other departments.
Where to start in guiding internal networking at your organisation
If this approach resonates with you, I suggest starting with an investigation of how connected your people feel to the organisation’s brand and to each other. How effectively have teams developed their own identities… and then found ways to share this with each other?
Guiding internal networking is more than just bringing your staff together… it takes a clear purpose and a plan to empower team members to connect and work more effectively with each other, through creating strong relationships and communication across departments, regions and even time zones.