Networking is an essential part of one’s life. Over the years, I have consciously built a great network of friends, colleagues and associates for myself. Funny enough, I have different people in my life for different purposes, and this has helped build relationships that have lasted over a decade. You need a great network to live your best life, because among these networks are people that would be there for you through thick and thin; they can help elevate your life and affluence to a greater level. Your ‘contacts’ is your wealth. Most times, it is about whom you know.
Network in this context is a group of people interconnected, who have things in common. As humans, we are naturally interconnected and we are made to socialize with one another. From birth till death, we consciously or unconsciously build our networks through the schools we attend, where we work, official/unofficial meetings, our neighborhood, the kind of social gatherings we attend, ETC.
Building your network is practically building yourself to be among the caliber of people you desire. First, you must:
- Find Your Purpose and Be Real: Knowing who you are or the kind of person you aspire to become helps you attract like-minds. In building your network, you must be true to yourself; what you stand for, your values and ambitions. Attracting the right kind of people goes a long way in building a great network, because among them are connectors that may eventually help you meet other people of higher caliber. Fake people attract fake people, and even if you attract one real person, you may lose that contact/relationship in no time when they eventually know who you truly are. Be proud of who you are, develop yourself, your talents and learn skills that will make you invaluable.
- Develop Your Communication Skills: In building your network, you must learn to start a meaningful conversation and sustain it for at least fifteen minutes, talking about a particular topic or different range of topics. You must be very interesting to be with, be truthful and talk more about what the other person can relate with. That’s how to capture the attention of a meaningful individual. As a matter of fact, you should learn a five minute self-pitch that you would say when you meet someone for the first time. I went for a meeting one day with the intention to table down some projects, with an emphasis on a particular one; but when the meeting started, I realized the person was more interested in another project other than the one I emphasized on. I quickly dropped my interest and focused on him. That laid a solid foundation on that first meeting and has led to several meetings afterwards. Learn to talk meaningfully. I once read somewhere that a closed mouth is a closed destiny.
- Be Observant: You have to be collected, calm and observant when you get to an unfamiliar gathering. By doing so, you can choose among the crowd who you would like to engage. First of all, you need to know the caliber of people present, what the gathering is about and what topic is of interest to the people there. Don’t stop at just exchanging pleasantries. Be more engaging by talking about similar experiences like the one that has brought you all together. If the talk is worthwhile, the person may request for your contact in order to keep in touch, and probably continue the conversation later.
- Be Outgoing and Attend Events: You can’t build your network by staying indoors all by yourself. Attend events that bring the caliber of people you would like to meet together. If your interest is in nonprofits, business, entertainment, or governance, you should apply for programs, conferences, seminars, training that would enable you to meet people. Go out for weddings, birthdays, to the park and fun places that would put you in the relaxed mood to connect with people. Choose a lovely destination for vacation and be open to mingle. There are lots of free events, so don’t always say you don’t have money. Apply for funded international youth programs and others that are of interest to you. In the face of this pandemic, there are lots of virtual meetings and webinars, take advantage of these events and build your network. You can also leverage on social media. Use it wisely and connect with meaningful people that would help transform your life for good.
- Create a First Good Impression: What people perceive you to be the first time they meet you would go a long way if the relationship would last or not. This reminds me of when I was in my first year in University, as a JAMBITE(these are students who gained admission through the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board), during our first meeting as 100 level biochemistry students, we wanted to elect our head of class. A guy willingly volunteered to take up the role and we nominated a young calm lady to assist him. At that point and through the election process, I was observing this young lady. She looks so serious minded and dedicated. What I perceived her to be is still the reason she is my best friend till date. Even though I got closer because I knew we could study together and assist me with my course works, she proved her worth and we have connected all through the years.
When you hear people say ‘all na connection o’, it simply means it is all about your contacts, your network, who you know. Do all you can to be the kind of person that you want to attract. Thank you.
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