Networking Skills for Employees
If you’re an avid networker, then you’ll agree that networking is for everybody. It shouldn’t be limited to those in management or sales, because everyone can gain from it. Within a large company, networks of employees inside the firm can come up with new ideas that can help streamline processes and cut costs, while networking with people they know elsewhere can mean importing ideas that can work well in a new framework.
But what are the best ways to harness those networking possibilities and put them to work for your employees? Are there ways that have been tested, tried, and succeeded? Also, can networking also be a good way to recruit new, eager employees?
Social Networking and BusinessThere have been plenty of negative articles about social networking sites, but what’s often forgotten are the positives that can come from them. Yes, time spent on them might take staff away from the work on hand, but exchanging ideas with others can bring in new thoughts, or trigger something in your own employees. It might even slowly lead to more business through contacts.
For those reasons it’s well worth encouraging employees to use social networking sites and even allow it – within limits – on company time. Monitor what happens, obviously, but giving that leeway to staff will also make them happier and more relaxed in the workplace, which can lead to the indirect gains of greater productivity and possibly lower staff turnover.
Social networking can also be a good way to bring in new blood. If you have an employee who likes your firm, and he has a friend elsewhere who’s unhappy, then that friend might want to come and work for you. Additionally, business social networks can prove to be very fertile recruiting ground, where you can find good, qualified candidates.
Networks Within the CompanyWith large companies, especially those with a number of offices spread wide across the country or the world, internal networks, whether in-person or electronic, can be useful to the business. Employees have the chance to exchange views and ideas with colleagues and possibly come up with projects that can prove beneficial to the company itself.
For some large companies, networks can be just for women, or gay/lesbian employees, so they have the opportunity to spend time with those like themselves and feel less isolated. Again, this atmosphere increases employee satisfaction and, indirectly, productivity.
Networking Outside the CompanyWhere you have employees working in specialised fields, it’s worth your while to encourage them to network with their peers in other companies and organisations. The talk will inevitably turn to what they’re working on and advances in the field, so what they bring back to the company can turn into a new product or process that makes or saves money. Also suggest they go to conferences, where applicable, to hear about the latest progress in the field and exchange ideas at a high level.
It’s a good idea to encourage as many of your employees as possible to be actively involved in the networking process. That can be attending events and seminars or simply talking to others about the company and its products and services. There are potential leads everywhere, and the more avenues that are explored, the more effective your business can be.