“Your network is your net worth. Nurture it.”
Humans are social beings which means we relate with others. For some socializing is as easy as drinking a glass of water while for others, it might be the toughest thing to even imagine. Whichever side of the spectrum, at the very least we do have people who are close to us and we relish these connections for most often they nourish us. This is the basis upon which I’m writing this piece.
I believe in the power of human connections and the ability to have all our needs satisfied by other people provided we know them and can tap into our relationship to get what we need. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had chats with some of my friends and often than not the concern has been about having connections who can help them out. This isn’t my specialty but out of experience, there are key observations that I have been able to make over time and I’ll share them with you here:
- Get in the Ring: You’ll never network with someone unless you are in the same space. In the pre-COVID-19 period we had so many physical events taking place that we could attend to meet people. These were ideal place to network with people you shared an interest with for most times, there is a common interest that drew both of you to the function. That’s the genesis of a relationship and if nurtured has the potential to help you out when you need it. Currently, even without meeting physically, there are so many webinars ongoing which can help you network with individuals you have common interests with. Additionally, there are a couple of social media platforms at our disposal with almost all the people you’ll ever want to connect with. Take advantage of these platforms, know what the people you wish to connect with are talking about, learn from them, connect and discuss issues. Get into these spaces and make the best of them. My favorite for professional networking so far is LinkedIn.
- Reach Out: “A man who hangs around a beautiful girl without saying a word ends up fetching water for the guests at her weddings.” – African Proverb. As the saying goes, unless you take advantage of your preferential positioning to reach out and talk to the people you wish to network with you’ll always see others taking advantage as you watch by. You need to reach out, contact them and get to know more about what they do. Everybody loves talking about what you do and so if you grant them a chance to, they’ll do it which gives you an opportunity to identify common themes and interest that may ultimately form a basis for your follow up conversation. In case it works out, you’ll have someone in your circle otherwise you’ll know you don’t have common interests which opens your eyes to other opportunities.
- Follow Up: In case you happen to meet up with an individual you’ve always wanted to get to, ensure you follow up on that conversation after the meeting. It keeps the communication going and enables you to pick it up from there the next time you converse. Otherwise, there will be dead silence and reigniting the conversation may be tougher than it was to start it. In follow up, mention the key interests you discussed in order to ensure there is some direction onwards. You can do this by text or email depending on how formal the conversation was.
- Keep Tabs: There are high chances you’ll not be talking as often but it doesn’t hurt to check in once in a while. It’s a good way to keep in touch and also gives room for the both of you to get acquainted with developments in other peoples lives. That’s the power of connecting with people: to build a relationship.
- Make the Ask: In case there is something you need and you feel your connection may be in a position to help, do not shy away from asking. It shows some level of confidence in them and in case they are in a position to help, they will do so. Otherwise, they’ll keep an eye out for you in case they may prove themselves useful in the future.
In writing this piece, I am more pro-professional development and career growth. Currently, we’ve seen final year students resuming classes in order to get through with their final semesters and graduate. This is a critical time because once done, it will be you and the job market. This is the time to get acquainted with your lecturers, your supervisors, and any industry players you’ve ever interacted with in efforts to connect the dots from training to practice. It also makes your transition seamless as you gain insights and access to probable employers.
“Network diligently and know that you have the power in your hands. Do something.”