After working in the Government of Canada for several years, I have seen many people build and others destroy their careers. Others stay stagnant for a long time and do not see much movement in their careers. So what is the secret to success? Interpersonal skills. It is important to know how to use these skills to your advantage. There are people who know how to network and those who don’t. Those who are strong networkers make substantial advancements in their career. Networking in the Government of Canada is NOT about contacting your professional contacts only when YOU need something. Rather, real networking is about giving and receiving from your network. So, how do you effectively network in the Government of Canada? Here are some strategies to get you on your way:
- Get out of your cubicle: There is no faster way to stay stagnant in your career than to hide in your cubicle all day every day. Yes, the majority of your day will be spent in your cubicle, but take full advantage of your breaks and lunch time to speak to people and build your network.
- Go for coffee (or tea): It is very common that productive networkers in the Government of Canada meet for coffee (or tea) with individuals in their networks. These meetings are usually used to exchange information on career growth or other pertinent information that can help one advance their career.
- Lunch: This is a big one. Avoid eating lunch alone. While it is great to eat lunch with members of your immediate team, make an effort to meet with other individuals once in a while. These individuals can provide you with information and a new insight on information that may be useful to you. Also, make an effort to attend most (if not all) of the organized lunches that you are invited to. It is a great way to display your interpersonal skills and strengthen your professional work.
- Use conferences and meetings to your advantage: While it is great to reach out to individuals in your immediate department. Take advantage of meetings, conferences, and training sessions to introduce yourself to others and build a professional network. You never know when someone can assist you or when you can assist them.
Networking is very important in any classification and at all levels in the Government. It will privy you to knowledge and guidance that others may not have access to. Remember that the more you give to your network, the more you will receive. So before declining the next invitation for lunch or coffee, think about the consequence that this may have on your career in the long term.