Entry-Level to Exec: The Secret to Succeeding at Your Company
You’re in! You got the job—no shabby feat in this economy—and now you’re ready to start moving up in the corporate world. So what’s next?
The answer: internal networking. You might think that networking stops once you land a position, but the truth is, it’s important to your success and growth within the company to keep up the process. You’ll want to get to know your colleagues, find out what opportunities are out there, and promote yourself as a team player and leader within your organization.
Here are a few ways you can build and use an in-company network to boost your reputation—and maybe even land that next position.
1. Mingle With Others
The more people you know in the office, the more likely you’ll be on the tip of someone's tongue when a position opens up. And more importantly, the more you'll know about the different departments, positions, and career paths available. Meeting people across the organization and learning about their work will introduce you to roles you might not have known existed or encourage you to take a second look at the ones you did know about.
So, put yourself out there and socialize with your colleagues. Get to know the other assistants and associates at the office. Ask colleagues to lunch and show up at company happy hour—and if one doesn’t exist, take the initiative and organize it yourself!
2. Find a Mentor
You can learn a lot about your career by having candid conversations with people who were once in your shoes. A mentor can offer valuable advice and insight about your company, the opportunities it offers, and how your goals might fit in. And as a bonus, that’s another relationship that may come in handy when a job opening appears.
If your company has a mentoring program in place (most larger corporations do), sign up! And if not, find a mentor on your own. Ask someone (not your supervisor) to lunch in order to pick her brain, and continue to build on that relationship.
3. Take Advantage of Inter-Department Projects
These aren’t always fun. In fact, they might seem like signing up for extra work or a load of distractions. But quite to the contrary, taking advantage of any opportunity you have to work outside of your position will help you become known and connected across your company.
Does your department need to send a representative to a conference that no one else wants to go to? Volunteer! Does someone need to present sales data to the marketing team every Friday morning? That’s you! Getting face time with other departments is another great way to get exposure to a broader group of colleagues, plus gain experience in roles outside your own—both of which will serve you well if you’re looking to move around.
4. Attend Company Outings and Programs
Many offices sponsor 5K races or organize volunteer projects in the community. My company’s HR department even hosts a book group once a month. And even if these activities aren’t really your thing—do them anyway. They’re not only a great way to meet other people in the company, they’re also an excellent opportunity to prove your worth.
Also look for opportunities to showcase skills you don’t get a chance to show off in your current position. Need a place to prove yourself as a leader? Offer to help coordinate the annual summer charity walk. Or if you want to demonstrate your ability as a spokeswoman, volunteer to present to visiting groups of college students.
5. Don’t Forget Your Supervisor
While it's important to expand your network and inter-office experience, you also need to keep the conversation open with your supervisor—she’s still the one who signs your performance reviews! Every couple months, ask for a meeting to discuss your job performance, your career goals, and how you can take on new responsibilities within your current position. If your boss values you (and she should!), she'll see your ambition as an asset to the company, and she’ll value your growth as well.
Photo courtesy of NEXT Berlin.
About The Author
Born in the Netherlands but raised in the Northeast, Megan Halpern is a writer and literary publicist based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of New York University, and is currently (by day) a lecture agent at Penguin Books. When she is not working, writing, or cooking up a storm, Megan can be found exploring Boerum Hill, accidentally singing along out loud to her iPod. You can keep up with her on Twitter @megalie.