“From 7am Monday to 7pm Friday, you were Accenture’s and you went where you were sent.” That’s a quote from my interview with Antoinette Oglethorpe in How to Make Partner and Still Have a Life. It’s what most consultants have to put up with, and it’s also the case for plenty of junior professionals.  You are just on the move all the time, and rarely get to see your home base.  However, it’s also vital for your career, if you want to make partner, to develop a strong and supportive internal network.  How can you do this if you are never in the office? In this article, I’ll give you seven ideas for ways to build relationships without seeing people on a daily basis.

1.      Prioritise your precious time

If you are only going to be in the office for a couple of days a month, then make those days worthwhile. Seek out the people who can help your career and make sure you meet with them while you are in the same place. If you are not sure who are the best people to influence your career, ask your mentor.

2.      Use the social and network part of social networking

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on. These are fantastic ways for busy professionals to keep in touch with clients, prospects, and colleagues.  Facebook tends to be more informal – great for office gossip and behind-the-scenes news – while LinkedIn is more formal.  Twitter is particularly good for raising your profile with a wide circle of people. Read some of my articles about using social media on the How To Make Partner website.

3.      Have a plan

Build a network map and plan who you need to talk to.  Put actions into your diary for making connections with these people. If you don’t know what a relationship plan is, then download a free relationship planning template in your Career Kitbag.

4.      Party (like it’s 1999)

Schmoozing.  It’s one of the best ways to get to know people.  Office parties, leaving dos, launch events.  Get along to all of them, loosen up your tie, and get to know people.  I’ve written about how to enjoy, and get value, from Christmas parties, and the advice applies all year.

5.      Ask to work with people who matter

Ask to be put on a job with people on your relationship plan. This is a great way to get to know them, as well as demonstrating to them what a super person you are to work with, and how well you get results.

6.      Use the phone

When you simply can’t get a face-to-face meeting, pick up the phone (or perhaps use Skype) to have a chat.  With people such as your counselling partner,  make these conversations regular events.  Get them into the diaries well in advance.

7.      There are alternatives to lunch

Remember, there are more opportunities to chat to people informally than arranging lunches.  When you know you are going to be in the office, arrange a breakfast meeting, drinks after work, or just coffee with people on your network map.   Never turn down a chance to get to know your colleagues better. Click on the links below to read more about the importance of internal relationships for your career. 5 smart strategies to use internal PR to accelerate your career Why you must not neglect your internal network if you want to make partner How to network without going out in the evening Build up your fan base with your partners [sc name=NetworkingPlan]

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