Have you stopped networking at work?  Networking – there’s that word that we hear so often.  It’s an incredibly important and vastly overused term.  So what do we mean when we say “networking at work” and why does it matter to us?  Simply put, we are talking about investing in and building relationships with the people we work with directly and indirectly.  It means getting to know the people on our team, our manager and our coworkers in other departments (or even other locations).  This is a skill that rising rock stars excel at.  They are intentional and focused at getting to know those people that make decisions as well as those people that can help them get the work done.  They build their reputation and “sell tickets” on a daily basis ultimately helping them to rise up in the organization until they finally “top the charts.”  It is at the point that the rock star “tops the charts” that he or she is susceptible.  I often see a dangerous switch thrown in the superstar’s head.  They begin to say to themselves, “I no longer need to seek out relationships.  After all, I’m the important one around here.  It’s everyone else’s job to network with me.”

Have you fallen prey to this deadly trap?  Here’s a quiz to see if you’ve inadvertently thrown the switch and are heading in the wrong direction:

Rock Star Networking Quiz:

1.       The last time I invited a co-worker to lunch was:

a. This week
b. Last week
c. Last month
d. Over a month ago

2.       I know something personal (not work-related) about the following co-workers:

a. Everyone on my team
b. The majority of the people on my team
c. One or two people I work with
d. No one currently – all of those people have left

3.       The following people know me AND call me by my first name at work:

a. Everyone – from senior leadership down to the receptionist
b. Most people throughout the organization
c. My team only
d. No one calls me by my first name

4.       Of the new employees who have started work here over the last year, I have voluntarily introduced myself to:

a. All of them.  I take it upon myself to help them get used to the place
b. The ones I work with most directly
c. A small handful
d. No one

5.       People tell me that when my name comes up in meetings or discussions:

a. Several people sing my praises and mention me as a possible solution to the problem they are discussing
b. Someone in the meeting mentions me as a possible resource to speak with
c. I am rarely told that my name comes up in meetings
d. I can’t remember the last time someone told me that my name came up in a meeting

So, how did you do?  Add up your score using the following key:

a.=3 points                                  c.=1 point
b.=2 points                                 d.=0 points

Now that you have your total score, here’s a breakdown:

(13-15pts.) You are a true networking rock star – you see the value of constantly building strategic relationships and you are already reaping the benefits of that hard work.  You are more than holding your own and your star is likely on the rise.

(9-12pts.) You are doing an adequate job of networking at work– you might not be the household name in your organization that you would like, but you have some key relationships built that will serve you well.

(5-8pts.) You are slipping – you’ve lost your networking edge, but it’s not too late to get it back.  Refocus and don’t dine alone.

(0-4pts.) Your name is likely at the top of the wrong list – if there is another round of layoffs, you are at risk of being on that list.  You need to build some relationships and fast!

The rock star at work that stands the test of time understands that change is part of the game.  And that means players on the board change.  Enduring rock stars continuously and proactively build relationships with all of the people they work with, creating more opportunities for themselves and protecting themselves from possible disaster.  You can never stop “selling tickets” or “promoting your next show,” no matter how famous at work you may appear to be.