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Coffeepot Chatter: Internal Networking

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Maria:  Do you ever feel like we only see these four walls and the three of us?

Tom:  Is that a problem?

Maria: I was thinking back to when I first started at Lehigh and attended Learning the Institution. It was so great to meet people from other areas on campus.

Tom: Oh, yeah. I’ve stayed in contact with people I met back then and often rely on them as resources.

Maria: Exactly, we need to network again.

Harry: Maria, why don’t you participate in one of the next REACH cohorts?

Maria: I’ve heard about that. What exactly is REACH?

Harry: The purpose of REACH is to build professional relationships, connect employees with each other, and learn about the institution.

Maria: That’s what I want. How do I sign up?

Harry: I’m not sure. We will need to look for that.

Tom: Hey, what about me?

Harry: Why don’t you learn more about it first, Tom?


As Harry might have learned from this month’s lead article, REACH is a program for staff and faculty to encourage greater connections among the Lehigh employee community. This kind of networking is known as Internal Networking, and it differs from the kind of networking you might think is only useful when you are looking for a new job.


Why Network Internally?

Leading career experts agree that internal networking yields benefits for both employees and organizations. Whether you are a new employee or have years of experience at Lehigh, the process of connecting to your colleagues across campus is worthwhile.


In his post
Internal Networking: It’s Not Just For Kiss-ups Anymore, Devon Shane of the Human Resources blog The Up Mover lists just a few of the reasons why you should be networking internally:


"Even if you’re not looking to change jobs, internal networking can help with career development, increase the impact of your responsibilities on an organization, increase individual resources in terms of information, references, and advice available to you, and raise your influence in the company."


Most importantly, Shane says, internal networking can break down the silos that often plague organizations. 


"Silos happen when a group, division, function, or even individual becomes insular and disconnected from other parts of the organization. The resulting mentality means that these groups don’t share information or goals with others in the same company. This can cause an enterprise to deteriorate into a group of isolated camps with organizational power-struggles, blocked collaboration… and ultimately limited productivity…"

Jennifer V. Miller, a Human Resources pro and blogger at The People Equation and Forbes.com says that internal networking sets you apart from the crowd.


"Even if your job rarely requires you to interact outside your company walls, you still need to know how to network... Internal networking is when you reach out to colleagues within your organization, even if your job doesn't require you to do so. It's going beyond your normal scope of job responsibilities.

Being an internal networker means you are looking outside your immediate, day-to-day activities and thinking about how you can connect with and create value for others in your company."


Internal Networking For New Employees

For new employees, internal networking is the way to develop ties that can get you off to the right start.   John Rossheim of Monster.com writes that “internal networking, right from the beginning, is key to maintaining the upward trajectory of your career.”  


If you're a new employee, who are the right people with whom to network? Rossheim states that you should start broadly, getting to know people in a variety of roles. Another expert in Rossheim’s article adds that it can be helpful to meet people who have been in a job similar to yours for about a year.


Rossheim notes that it’s important to be respectful of others’ time and suggests setting up breakfast appointments with colleagues you’d like to meet. With the REACH program, however, new employees can combine getting to know Lehigh better as an organization with meeting colleagues.


New REACH Groups Forming Soon

If you want to take the leap into internal networking, consider signing on for one of this year’s REACH cohorts. More information about registration will be available soon online and in Spotlight.

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Spotlight is published monthly by Human Resources. Please address any comments to Hillary Kwiatek, Spotlight Editor, Human Resources, 428 Brodhead Avenue, send email to hik210@lehigh.edu, or call extension 85165.

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