Networking is an oft-heard buzzword in today’s career development. Every career adviser you meet has the same overarching message: “Go reach out and network your way to the top.” However, many don’t specify, what this actually means or how it is done.
Networking for the sake of networking, without any purpose or intent, doesn’t seem very rewarding. No matter how often you are encouraged to engage in it, interacting with every human being simply out of the wish to turn that encounter into a golden opportunity in the future doesn’t make it any more tempting.
Active personal campaigning in front of your managers doesn’t feel exactly natural, at least not in the context of the Nordic culture. That said, I was determined to improve my networking skills in order to share my observations and key learning points with you.
The most important thing I learned from my pre-blogging observations is that cultivating your professional network at Tieto requires surprisingly little effort and turned out to be astonishingly rewarding and fun, as long as it was approached and framed in the right, natural way.
By this I mean that I didn’t intend to actively flutter around the office handing out my business cards to everyone who passed by. Neither did I attend every possible press conference to “casually” meet the influencers. I think at Tieto, however, even that wouldn’t probably be too awkward, as it’s generally easy to approach any person regardless of their position.
Instead, I simply tried to connect better with my coworkers whenever we had a mutual cause or a project to work on together. Here are some of the reasons I found networking at Tieto a rather enjoyable and rewarding experience:
- Tieto's Gen-T trainee program and the trainee team, with people of divergent backgrounds offer an ideal opportunity to build your network with peers and managers who organize the common trainings and participate in them. This is actually very difficult to grasp in effective corporate networking because the easy-going graduate colleagues are perfectly disguised as your friends. (For those who don’t know, Generation-T is an annual training program for young professionals, which offers them a chance to kick-start their career in the IT industry.)
- Moreover, there’s an active Generation-T alumni network, who together with the Tieto young professionals network organize free time activities such as indoor beach volley or sauna get-togethers. You wouldn’t want to miss them, even if you disliked networking in its original sense. Without an exception, the trainee program alumni members have been extremely helpful in escorting the participants around and showing them the ropes.
- Working on complex and demanding projects that involve seamless cooperation between several different stakeholders both inside and outside of our organization, is a great way of natural networking. Of course, the tight schedules, limited resources and project-specific challenges set a certain kind of ambiance to the interpersonal communication.
This ambiance differs a little from the two above-mentioned carefree networking ways, but offers an invaluable opportunity to learn and grow together during the project. I suppose everyone knows how rewarding it feels to solve an insumountably difficult issue together and how this experience bonds the team.
I would like to express my gratitude towards Tieto’s executives, HR and the organizers of the Generation-T program. The program is ingeniously designed in a way where you cannot even recognize it as corporate networking, but rather consider it as casual bonding with your fellow graduate friends.
Whether our group members were carefully screened and selected, or if the group bonded so easily just by accident, or if it was in fact due to the friendly and open environment that the program setting enabled, the end result was extremely rewarding.
In my opinion, this trainee program feels more like an international exchange program. You are able to share your new and exciting experiences you’ve had during the start of your corporate career with similar-minded young professionals who can relate to your experiences. You can also share your joy and excitement and get support during the times of frustration or wonder.
Could you even ask for more from a corporate network?