You, like many people, may feel dread in hearing the word “networking.” You are not alone, according to one study from Harvard Business School, people feel gross about networking being pushed by their superiors because of the feeling of how transactional it can be. That same study showed, however, that people do feel good about organic (or self-initiated) networking. Networking can be good for not just you as an individual but also good for your department and organization.
As vaccinations are increasing around the country, you might have thought about how or when you will return to the office. For some government workers, they are not going back to the office and are instead going 100% online. For others, going back to the office will be a strange adjustment. Some co-workers might not be back as they moved on from the office and other co-workers you will be meeting for the first time in person because they were hired during the pandemic.
One of the lessons learned through our PPE Procurement During COVID-19 research report was that past relationships between the procurement office and the other offices made a difference in the procurement office’s response to the pandemic. In going back to the office, whatever that looks like to you, networking will be key in the next emergency and moving forward in a hybrid work from home/regular office system.
Harvard Business Review recommends to readers to switch their mindset:
Treat networking as a learning opportunity. Try not to think of learning as a selfish thing but learn for learning’s sakes.
Identify common interests with the people you are networking with especially identify higher motivation outside of the self. Remember that unlike in private business, your government organization is filled with people who are motivated by service to the public. Play to that motivation in your networking.
Everyone has something to offer to anyone. The lowest level newest assistant has something to give to the veteran CEO. Many professionals will get stuck in the paradox of only seeing the tangible; and not capitalizing on the intangible like generational knowledge, or even company to the office event. Rapport is built through every interaction.
Those who study government networks break them down into 3 types. Think about your network through these types.
Do not be afraid to initiate networking on your own! Especially if you are working remote for the long term, self-initiation will be important. The importance of networking became apparent throughout the crisis and as the pandemic moves to a new stage, you will have to learn to adapt to the new way of working.
Read some more resources on networking:
How to Keep Networking from Draining You in Harvard Business Review
Making Time for Networking as a Working Parent in Harvard Business Review
How to Network When There are no Networking Events in Harvard Business Review