Advice for confidently and respectfully networking within my workplace
November 29, 2016 2:03 AM   Subscribe

I would like to change roles internally at my organisation. How might I approach researching this and meeting new people at my workplace?

I'm a junior employee working for a large company. I'm half a year into my new job at this new workplace, where I would like to continue working past the end of my current contract but in a different role.

My new job has some characteristics of my ideal job, but is not fully ideal for me. Part of the reason I accepted my job while it wasn't perfect was because I needed to leave my previous job. I do not feel that a "perfect" job exists and think there are trade-offs. This being said, but I have done a bit of freelancing and industry research so I think I know myself pretty well.

My previous workplace had some characteristics that wore on me: low pay and a bit of a toxic atmosphere. Sometimes it was great, but I was also bullied for part of the time I was there and even after the employees who did that to me left, the feeling never really left me. It was an 'every person for themselves' kind of place and I was effectively trapped and like I was doing time there for a number of years.

As a result of knowing my new job is a step up from my last, but not not my forever job, I am thinking about how I can prepare myself to take on new roles at my company. I've familiarised myself a bit with how to apply for roles internally at my new workplace if the time comes. I attend a fair amount of industry networking events outside of my workplace although I could do a better job of being outgoing (e.g., saying 'hi' to people). I have a very realistic view on my industry, which is in a rocky state.

During the period I worked at my old job, I was very anxious to leave but unable to because of some other things going on in my life. This feeling of being trapped spurred me to network a bit and learn skills in my spare time that led me to eventually getting my new job.

In my new workplace, I don't know how to approach people who work in my organisation in the departments I actually am interested in. I don't know if it would seem strange to ask for introductions or email someone out of the blue to say "hey, you're working on this cool thing and it interests me, could we speak about it". I don't want to seem weird. Personally, I am a bit sensitive and paranoid about being followed or sabotaged, which felt like a real threat at my last job and that does colour how I communicate with people today. Now is not the past and I sometimes have to remind myself how far I came and that it's worth asking for what I want. There is information I would like to know about future roles I am interested in, like what skills and experience are needed? How could I best prepare myself for future roles? Is it wise to approach someone out of the blue?

I found "What Color is your Parachute" helpful when I was looking for new work in the past. Now that I'm looking to change roles internally (not immediately, but in the next 1/2-2 years), I'd like to understand how I might approach networking internally in a confident and respectful manner. I'd really appreciate any advice or perspective you can offer.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (1 answer total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have you heard of informational interviews? They seem awkward to arrange but they're common in some industries, and most people are actually really happy to have someone take an interest in what they do and to dispense advice to open ears.

When seeking someone to interview in your own organization, I think it helps to ask a trusted peer for recommendations of / introductions to managers who are knowledgeable and approachable. Respect the manager's time and be extremely careful not to give the impression that you are trying to curry favor with them. (For example, never try to arrange an informational interview with someone who is the hiring manager for a current internal vacancy, even if it's a vacancy in which you have no interest.) And if you have a good manager, s/he may be very willing to help you arrange an information interview with a manager in a different division, especially if you talk about it in terms of long-term professional goals and development, not in terms of "I'd like to change jobs in a year."
posted by xylothek at 10:14 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

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