Here are the six rules for networking at work, from this article published on the Harvard Business Review.
- Build outward, not inward: "Start by remembering that the point of collaborative networking is to connect people who wouldn't ordinarily work together. Don't waste your time deepening connections with people you already know."
- Go for diversity, not size: "Rather than aiming for a massive network, focus on building an efficient one. This requires knowing people with different skills and viewpoints. They should be different from you, of course, but also different from one another."
- Build weak ties, not strong ones: "A strong tie is probably someone who knows a lot of the same people you do, whereas a weak tie forms a bridge to a world you don't walk in. And to keep a weak tie, you only need to touch base a couple of times a month."
- Use hubs, not familiar faces: "When facing a problem at work, most of us will ask a close contact for help. But because we tend to befriend people at our own level, our closest contacts are unlikely to know more than we do. Instead, identify the "hubs" in your company — the people who are already great organizational networkers — and ask them to connect you to someone who knows more."
- Swarm the target: "Say you've built a diverse network of weak ties. Using the help of a hub, you've identified someone who can help you: a target. Before you approach that person, you need to enlist the help of your network to increase the odds that she will come through."
- If people aren't pulling together, strengthen ties: "If you're managing a project that requires crossing organizational silos, and following the previous rules has not provided results, it's worth investing the time and resources to build stronger connections. Help the team get to know each other better. You'll start to see results."