Internal networking is extremely important for employee productivity and engagement. So how do you get started with internal networks?
What is Internal Network?
Internal networking is a process of reaching out to and connecting with colleagues within your organization, even if your job doesn’t require you to do so.
Many organization today strive to optimize internal networking among employee with the main goal to improve employee relations, increase employee motivation, engagement and productivity.
💡 Check out our guide on how to build a better company culture with Internal Communications.
Experts on Internal Networking
“Look around you and look everywhere. Make sure to build your internal network and use it to develop your ideas or to source ideas from.” Most business professionals echo this sentiment from global entrepreneur Ted Rollins. As such, we put an emphasis on networking, but mostly outside of the office, when looking for a job or trying to meet industry experts.
Networking inside the office is less talked about, but just as important for sourcing great ideas and finding inspiration. So often teams get siloed and forget that they have a network within the company that can help them complete their tasks more effectively.
“Being an internal networker means you’re looking outside your immediate, day-to-day activities and thinking about how you can connect with and create value for others in your company,” says Jennifer Miller, the founder of SkillSource.
For example, the marketing team may be struggling to get customer data for running tests, when the head of sales may already have it at-the-ready. The key to bringing this into your organization is making it easy for employees to talk with one another. Setting up and supporting an “internal networking initiative” is a great place to start.
How to Create an Internal Networking Initiative
An internal networking initiative will look different from one organization to another, depending on your goals, budget, tools, and needs. Regardless, the most important piece is making resources available to help employees connect. Here are a few ways to do exactly that.
1. Host Office Mixers
Put internal networking events on the calendar once a month. Instead of having them after work hours, plan to end the day an hour or two early, so employees don’t see this as another task on their never-ending to-do list. This can be as simple as an office happy hour, or more specific to a large company project.
You can even host department specific mixers, where you bring two departments together who haven’t been connecting as much as they should or can.
2. Create Online Chat Groups
If you use an office messaging system, like Slack that allows for groups, create networking channels or groups. Employees can use them to ask fellow co-workers a question, request resources, or share information about their role within the company.
Having a chat program like this in place is valuable, whether or not these internal networking groups are consistently used. Employees can exchange insights on posted content while investing in open communication.
3. Attend events as a team
Set the tone for internal networking by attending industry events as a team. If you can’t afford a big conference, look for local get-togethers. Many larger organizations have small chapters in various cities that hold educational or networking nights.
4. Scheduled lunch “dates”
Give employees a chance to talk to someone new once a month with scheduled lunch “dates.” One Friday every month, assign pairs of employees to get lunch together, whether they eat in the office or out somewhere. This gives everyone a regular opportunity to connect with a different person and is especially helpful for new employees.
If employees are weary to grab lunch with someone they don’t know, host team lunches instead. Digital Telepathy, a mid-sized agency in San Diego, does this as a way to maintain company culture.
One important tip they share: “During most lunches, we add on a table (or two) to fit our whole team plus guests from the community—especially family & friends”. This keeps everyone together, making conversation easy and convenient.
5. Try Employee Advocacy
Employee Advocacy programs support external and internal networking through content. When employees engage with company-related content and become aligned with the company's social media strategy, they are also more in sync with each other.
Tools that include internal communication and mobile features are particularly powerful in connecting the workforce and engaging them with the company.
Internal networking ensures employees work together more often, giving them a chance to speak with co-workers and learn about how they can be of value to one another. When they know what resources are available, or how others can make their work easier, they can be more productive and effective.
The Importance of Internal Networks
Internal networks can significantly improve your company's performance by directly effecting how employees communicate.
Here are just some of the reasons how internal networks and better internal communications can help your company be more productive.
Top 10 Benefits of Internal Network
1. Improve job satisfaction
When employees are connected, the work atmosphere get more enjoyable. Being connected with coworkers helps employees make strong connections. Internal networking among employees from different department help employees understand the business better and increase their job satisfaction.
65% of US employees say that communications by their employer impacts job satisfaction. 45% of them say that their employer does not do a good job communicating with employees. Having internal networks can significantly improve employee communications.
2. Improve internal communication
This one is obvious. When your employees are connected, internal communication within the organization is much better and more productive.
Having internal networks help employees communicate more often, get to the answers faster and collaborate more efficiently on solving problems.
Poor employee communications cause poor company culture and it negatively effects employee motivation.
3. Increase employee motivation
Employee networking increase employee motivation. Being connected with coworkers and have the ability to collaborate easily, makes employees more motivated to achieve their goals and eliminate challenges.
4. Increase employee productivity
Better internal communication can make your workplace more productive. Internal networks help an easy information flow which allows employees to find relevant information faster.
Consequently, employee don't have to waste time to find information important for them to do their jobs more efficiently. We call this a #NoSearching Revolution.
5. Increase employee engagement
According to research about employee engagement, 90% of leaders understand how important employee engagement is. However, only 50% of them know how to address this issue.
Here, internal networks play a crucial role. It has been proven that companies with better employee connections have much higher rates of employee engagement.
6. Encourage employee advocacy
Employee advocacy is a benefit many companies are trying to encourage. The ability to reach employees’ external connections can have a big impact on the company’s visibility, brand awareness and productivity.
In order to achieve employee advocacy, employers have to be ready to work on creating efficient internal networks. They need to keep employees in the loop and share important content them.
Here are the benefits of having advocates in your company.
7. Improve employee retention
High employee turnover is one of the biggest problems companies face today. The cost of an employee leaving is significant. Therefore, many employees try to avoid that expense.
Employee retention can be improved in many ways, and internal networks are one of the best solutions.
Employees who are not connected to other employees feel frustrated and isolated. As a result, they feel insecure and often consider new job opportunities.
8. Encourage knowledge sharing
A knowledge sharing culture helps companies manage and curate information and thus protect employees from information overload.
Internal networks and knowledge sharing systems create real value for companies by accelerating learning processes, innovation and creative processes.
9. Encourage more innovations
When employees are networked and communicate daily, exchange of ideas is much easier and faster. Therefore, having internal netowrks can really help your kick start innovations at your company.
10. Employee empowerment
Millenials and generation Z want to be involved in many aspects of a business. They want to have a certain level of decision-making power.
This is called employee empowerment. It means giving employees responsibility and autonomy to manage their own work and make decisions to achieve their own goals.
In order to empower your employees, you need to have internal networks that help employees connect and communicate more easily.
Communication Tools for Better Internal Networking
There are software solutions that can help you start with your internal network initiatives.
With software like Smarp, organizations have managed to improve employee communications and, with that, increase their productivity, improve brand awareness and people management efforts.
Schedule a free Smarp demo to see how it can help you build internal networks and a health work atmosphere.
About the Author
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running a business and being resourceful. She’s been featured on Forbes and has written for StartupNation, Manta and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for small business tips and marketing ideas.
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