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How to Find a Work Community in a Large Company

November 16, 2016

Finding a community where you work can be a challenge, especially if you’re working in a large company. We wanted to ask our hiring experts where we should start to look for a community when working in a large company. True to form they gave us some superb responses.

Start looking for a community in obvious places.

Ashley from Cardinal Health, “Working in a large corporate company, can feel as large or as small as you make it.

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 include employees at all different levels.

Another easy way to get involved is by participating in community service. If your company offers any volunteering or fundraising, take part in it.” Full Quote

Ashley brings up good places to start looking. Almost every company has employee resource groups or volunteering opportunities. You may also see if there’s a group of people that play trivia at a local pub during the week, or if there are some people in your building who need another player for their soccer team. These are natural opportunities for you to expand your community in a large company.

Please listen intently to the last thing Ashley said, “take part in it.” While that may sound self-explanatory most people don’t get involved because they’re tired from a long day at work, or The Bachelor is on tonight, or they’re excited to finish binge-watching the latest release on Netflix. You will have to prioritize making connections to find community. You will have to take part in it.

Make yourself known by gaining some face time.

An expert from Caterpillar, Steve, gave this advice when asked how to build community in a large company, “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.” Full Quote

Finding a community at work means you are expanding your network. Your main reason for wanting to grow your community may not be to expand your network, but you are doing that nonetheless. Taking an opportunity to lead a project outside of your current job opportunities is not only an excellent way to create community, but it’s a phenomenal way to advance your career.

If you take Steve’s advice, you’ll be able to demonstrate your leadership abilities to some people, while at the same time expanding your network within your company quite rapidly. Ask for the project and gain some much-desired face time with some people around the company.

Utilize any unique community building opportunities at your place of employment.

Stephanie, a hiring expert from AT&T, gave us these unique insights, “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 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.” Full Quote

While the Ride Days Stephanie talks about sound like an extraordinary opportunity to expand your community, it’s unlikely that your place of employment has a similar program. However, it is quite common for every company to have some unique program that empowers you to meet people across the spectrum. Send an email to your supervisor first to see if they know of any such program. If they don’t know, then send an inquiry through your HR department. You never know what you may discover already exists.

Ultimately you won’t find a work community in a large company; you will have to create a community. You will have to take part in the community events that are easily accessible and create opportunities to engage with other departments. To get where you want to go in your career and your personal life connections are key. Take the time to create a plan and put in the effort to create a community where you work. It may end up being the best thing you ever do for your career.

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