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Asked by David on September 5, 2016

I work at a very large company. I've got a number of friends who work in my department, but I'd like to connect with more people in the company. How do I go about engaging the much larger corporate community?

Answered by Bret, Hiring Expert at Emerson, on September 7, 2016

Hello and thanks for the question! Networking for social or career reasons is an important way to stay engaged in a role or a company. While it often times seems daunting, simple steps can help you engage with the larger corporate community. First, take advantage of any company sponsored events, sports activities or volunteer opportunities. They offer immediate connections to new people and are typically not related directly to work. This allows people to begin networking socially and in regards to a neutral project or focus.
Second, step outside your comfort zone and sit with different people at lunch every day. You would be surprised at how many people are thinking the same thing you are and are just waiting for someone to make the first move in making new connections. Swallow your pride, have a bit of humility and you will see how easy it is to meet new people.
Third, participate in Employee Resource Groups. If these are available in your organization, it will allow you to connect to people with similar interests from across the company.
Finally, talk with your manager about working on an assignment in another department or function. It will be great development for you and it will also the opportunity to meet new people.
Hope this helps. Happy networking!
Bret

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Answered by Ashley, Hiring Expert at Cardinal Health, on September 7, 2016

Working in a large corporate company can feel as large or as small as you make it. You are smart to want to meet other people and expand your network.
If your company has employee resource groups, joining one, or more, is going to be the easiest way to meet new people. Employee resource groups are typically comprised of members across all departments and includes employee's at all different levels.
Another option is to join a Toastmasters group, book club, or common interest group, if your company offers any of these. Or, if your company offers any training courses, take these. It could be anything from an instructor led Excel course to a public speaking training. You could also join a local young professionals group. Chances are, there will be someone else in the group from your company.
Another easy way to get involved is by participating in community service. If your company offers any type of volunteering or fundraising, take part in it.
Lastly, another way to expand your network is to strike up a conversation with someone you don't know in the cafeteria or coffee shop. Don't be afraid to break out of your comfort zone and reach out to people to have a networking discussion just to learn more about their position. This is a great way to break the ice while also learning about other areas of the business.

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Answered by Steve, Hiring Expert at Caterpillar Inc., on September 9, 2016

Great question as it will be critical to your career advancement to build your network.  There are a number of different ways to go about this.  One, many larger companies will have internal affinity groups, such as young professionals or groups focused on gender or ethnicity.  Join a couple of these groups and be active in them.  Attend their meetings and events and if possible, seek a leadership position in the group.  This will give you exposure to many other leaders in your company.
Next is to seek out informational interviews within your company.  These are short meetings with key leaders and influencers that are not about a job opening, but rather about you learning from that individual.  Look through your internal resourced, such as phone directory or internal web site to identify with whom you wish to meet.  These should be people in your field or interest in the departments in which you have interest.  Work with them or their administrative support to set up a 30 minute informational interview and discuss things like what skills they feel are important to grow, etc.
Another way to build your network is through project participation.  Speak with the leaders in your current department and seek guidance on how to get on project teams that are not in your direct area.  Explain that your desire to do this is focused around building your internal network and they will most likely be supportive.  You would have to limit these projects to likely one at a time, but it will give others the opportunity to see your skills and abilities, and hopefully your leadership skills.
There are more things you can do, but these will go a long way towards building your professional network and establishing your personal brand.

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Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., on September 12, 2016

Way to hit on an idea that more people should consider!  It can be really easy to engage with the people who are in your immediate circle, but far more challenging to make meaningful connections outside of your team.  Some really solid suggestions have been made by other responders, but I wanted to throw in my two cents as this one is near and dear to my heart and personal work goals. 

A few years ago we implemented an idea we call Ride Days.  It is intended to be exactly what you're talking about.  Network, connect and really see the work done by someone outside of your business group.  Then spend a day in their shoes.  See what they do and how they do it.  Ask questions about how their work impacts the business and truly try and see the company through their eyes and experience.  I have done ride days with people in our Big Data department, legal team, executive training and technicians. These are roles I was not familiar with and I feel like I came away with a better understanding of a completely new perspective. 

In addition to your networking efforts, I strongly recommend taking the Ride Day idea for a spin!!  Best of luck to you!

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Answered by Patricia, Hiring Expert at ADP, on September 12, 2016

That is a great question! Join as many Business Resource Groups your employer may have to offer. Not only will it be a great opportunity for professional development, it will also be a great opportunity to network and meet new people outside your department. I also suggest sending out calendar invites asking leaders outside your department to connect. Take the initiative and introduce yourself and chat with people you normal wouldn't.

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Answered by Dean, Hiring Expert at Archer Daniels Midland, on September 20, 2016

Hi, that is a great way to learn more about the company and increase your professional development!  I would look to see if your company has an employee resource group that matches your background or interests.  These internal organizations do a great job of bringing together coworkers and leaders across the company to network and learn more about other aspects of the business.  The other way is to ask your supervisor if there is an opportunity to participate in a project that stretches across business units or departments.
Good Luck!

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