Nokia has an interesting culture for promoting informal mentoring. When someone new comes on staff, their manager sits down with them and makes a list of the people they need to meet. The manager helps give the new employee an idea of what they should discuss with each person on the list and explains why building that particular relationship is important.
Nokia then supports this practice by giving the new employee time to visit with each person on the list–even when that means traveling to other company locations. The result is a very strong collaborative culture that gives new people a jump-start on building relationships that might take years to identify and build in a traditional organization.
While your company may not offer the same level of support for building your network throughout the company, you can get many of the benefits on your own simply by being proactive in attempting to network with your co-workers. Here are a few suggestions:
- Make a list of people you want to meet in person. People in other locations that you work with by phone or email are good places to start.
- Don’t just look for people with high ranking. An established friendship with a secretary may be more beneficial than getting 10 minutes with the CEO.
- Use social networking tools. Tools like Linked-In can help you identify other people in your company who are looking to network with others.
- Plan your travel. When you travel to a different company location or trade meeting, plan ahead the people you want to meet with. This can be formal in setting up a lunch appointment, or simply stopping by their office for 5 minutes to say “hello.”