How to Strategically Build Your Influence Within Your Company
By: Jenny Pollock
Cultivating internal influence can help you propel yourself, your team, and your company forward.
Internal influence at your company can help you get buy-in for a project, gain that much-needed headcount approval, secure development resources, or supercharge any of your other initiatives.
Internal influence can be thought about in three buckets: internal networking, cross-functional collaboration, and fostering relationships at all levels of the organization.
Many professionals think about networking in an external sense, such as attending events, cultivating a personal brand, tracking or maintaining one’s network on social media like LinkedIn and Twitter, and scheduling informational meetings.
Those very same principles should be applied to internal networking, too. It’s essential to focus on growing your internal network by:
- Showing off your personal brand to your coworkers.
- Attending and securing air time at cross-team meetings and social events.
- Scheduling coffee chats or kicking off a listening tour where you meet with counterparts on other teams and listen to what they are working on.
Be strategic in your plan for making and sustaining connections with those inside your company.
When making your list of who to connect with, ask yourself these questions:
- Who has similar goals?
- Who can I help reach their goals?
- What team has skills I want to learn?
- What teams do I not know very well?
- What teams might have synergies with my current efforts?
[Related: Three Common Personal Brand Mistakes and How to Fix Them]
Navigating cross-functional collaboration.
Cross-functional collaboration can be tricky to manage with different team goals, schedules, and priorities. However, when done well, all involved teams will walk away achieving much more than they could individually.
The hybrid work environment means we all need to be more intentional in our cross-functional actions. Consider using your company’s kudos/praise system to shine a light on a coworker or team member who is going above and beyond, or plan monthly cross-team lunches or games sessions. There are virtual conversation starters and many virtual games that can be played in groups for free.
Document and share your collaborative successes. If you’re not sure of the best way to do this in your organization, audit how others share their success and emulate that. You can iterate on your success communication method as needed.
Foster relationships at all levels.
It is essential to foster strong relationships at all levels of the organization and be mindful of all your connections, from the new hire to the CEO. You should reach out and connect informally and formally at all levels. If you can find common interests with your coworkers then you’ll be able to form a deeper connection.
Understand their goals and look for win, win, win situations. This is where it’s a win for you, the other team, and the company. If you can find the overlap of your goals and objectives, it’s easier to secure buy-in and support.
[Related: Executive Presence Isn’t Just for Executives]
Now that you know the three foundational blocks of internal influence, apply them to the six steps to supercharge your internal networking strategy this year:
- Getting started: Identify one thing you will do this week to build internal visibility.
- Strategic networking: Identify three major stakeholders that having a stronger relationship with would be beneficial for you or your team.
- Coffee chat: Schedule one coffee chat with a coworker you normally wouldn’t connect with to help build visibility.
- 90-day view: Select three different activities you can do to build internal influence over the next three months. Focus on things that help you gain visibility and support. Put them on your calendar today.
- Envisioning the future: If you improve your internal visibility by 1% every day in 2022, what will it look like this time next year?
- Goal setting: Outline steps you can do to increase your internal visibility in Q1 2022.
You got this. Go grow your internal influence.
Remember: As your influence grows, make sure you’re wielding it properly. According to the BBC article “Why you say yes to requests — even if you shouldn’t,” our tendency to underestimate our influence is very relevant in the workplace.
[Related: Rising Leader Roundtable: Build Your Influence Within Your Company]
Jenny Pollock is IMVU’s Lead Subscription Program Manager. She’s passionate about helping high tech companies grow and scale by focusing on customers. Her experience spans SaaS and hardware companies.